Situated between Paris and Dijon, in the north-west of Burgundy, Auxerre is the capital of Yonne and boasts an exceptional medieval historical heritage. The pedestrian quarter of the city is full of half-timbered houses, some of which are decorated with carved figures.
Once an episcopal city, Auxerre is now a listed City of Art and History with a number of majestic religious buildings. Overlooking the quays of the Yonne, the Gothic Cathedral of St. Stephen, a listed Historic Monument, stands out for its remarkable sculpted portals, splendid stained glass windows with medallions and a Romanesque crypt adorned with superb ancient frescoes.
Carolingian crypts from the 9th century known as the "Holy Caves", decorated with frescoes that are still visible today, can also be found in the former Benedictine Abbey of St. Germanus. In this beautiful monastic complex founded in the 5th century, you can admire the chapter house, cloister, cellar and prison tower, as well as the splendid St. John Tower which escaped destruction.
The 12th-century Church of St. Eusebius is another of the city's architectural treasures. Its Romanesque bell tower, Renaissance choir and superb 16th-century stained glass windows are sure to appeal to heritage-lovers. The historic centre of Auxerre has many other sights to offer visitors, such as the 15th-century Clock Tower in the Flamboyant style, surrounded by typical façades, or Place Charles Surugue with its cute, colourful houses and its fountain decorated with a statue of Cadet Roussel, a famous figure in the city's history. Take your time to admire the half-timbered houses with carved details, mansions, Renaissance dwellings and Art Deco buildings.
This attractive and eminently cultural destination is also home to many museums. The St. Germanus Museum, in the abbey, tells the story of the city and the region; the Leblanc-Duvernoy Museum houses a very fine collection of faience as well as Beauvais tapestries from the 18th century. The Natural History Museum is a certified Museum of France with exhibitions about the region's present and past biodiversity, as well as a pleasant French formal garden which makes an ideal place to relax.
At the foot of the Abbey of St. Germanus, you will find the unmissable Place Saint-Nicolas. A gem of the Marine quarter, this square has beautiful houses, a charming fountain, shops and restaurants. Not far from there, a footbridge over the Yonne will offer you a stunning view of Auxerre. And from the bridge, you can contemplate a vast panorama including the footbridge, the banks of the Yonne, the harbour and the historic centre's superb buildings. The quays of the Yonne have been landscaped to create a pleasant place to relax or take a stroll, but you can also opt to board a boat for a cruise, to discover the city and its outskirts from another angle!