Most travellers to Burgundy arrive in Auxerre, the chief population and industrial centre in the north of Burgundy – and with good reason. A very pretty and historic town of narrow lanes and lovely open squares, it looks its best from Pont Paul-Bert over the river Yonne and the riverside quays. From here you get a lovely view of moored houseboats and barges, with churches soaring dramatically and harmoniously above the surrounding rooftops. To enjoy some local colour, and pick up some local produce, try the market in place de l’Arquebuse (Tues & Fri morning).

The most interesting of Auxerre’s many churches is the airy, light abbey church of St-Germain, famous for its ten-ribbed vaults, containing three of only five in existence worldwide. The monks’ former dormitories, around a classical cloister, now house a historical and archeological museum, but the real highlight is the crypt where the tomb of St Germain, fourth bishop of Auxerre (378–448), was the epicentre of the bishops’ burial catacombs. The tomb is empty – St Germain’s remains were used for various reliquaries and what was left was desecrated by Huguenots in 1567. The crypt is one of the few surviving examples of Carolingian architecture, with its plain barrel vaults still resting on their thousand-year-old oak beams. Its wonderfully vivid and expressive ochre frescoes are the oldest in France, dating back to around 850 AD.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Quiz: where should you go in France this summer?

Quiz: where should you go in France this summer?

France remains one of the most visited countries in the world – and it's easy to see why. From the bucolic charm of Provence to the metropolitan allure of Par…

14 Jul 2017 • Rough Guides Editors help Quiz
7 reasons why Lyon should be your next European weekend break

7 reasons why Lyon should be your next European weekend break

The ingredients for a great European weekend break are simple. You’ll need a walkable city centre, a handful of excellent restaurants, some cool bars, afforda…

14 Jul 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

Festivals are a different beast in 2017. They used to be associated with drinking warm cider while watching crusty bands in your naffest clothes; now the best e…

07 Jun 2017 • David Hillier insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right