With its Gothic spire rising against the backdrop of the Morvan hills, Autun is scarcely bigger than the circumference of its walls; most of the enclosure still consists of Roman fortifications that have been maintained through the centuries. The emperor Augustus founded the town in about 10 BC as part of a massive and, ultimately, highly successful campaign to pacify the brooding Celts of defeated Vercingétorix. The splendour of Augustodunum, as it was called, was designed to eclipse the memory of Bibracte, the neighbouring capital of the powerful tribe of the Aedui. Autun did indeed become one of the leading cities of Roman Gaul until it was sacked by the Arabs in 725 AD. Today, it is a picturesque provincial town, and an excellent base for exploring the surrounding countryside, particularly the Parc du Morvan. This town’s past remains very tangible, and two of its four Roman gates survive – Porte St-André, spanning rue de la Croix-Blanche in the northeast, and Porte d’Arroux in the northwest – while a number of other remains are dotted about the town.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The world's quirkiest food festivals

The world's quirkiest food festivals

Tomato-drenched crowds wading through a lake of passata at Valencia’s La Tomatina festival might be a familiar image, but such passionate and eccentric cele…

22 Dec 2017 • Lucy Cowie insert_drive_file Article
Ebikes: are they worth the hype?

Ebikes: are they worth the hype?

Though they may be sniffed at by "real" cylists, e-bikes are opening up serious mountain routes to the more casual pedaller. Andy Turner dons some lycra to find…

27 Oct 2017 • Andy Turner local_activity Special feature
20 seriously weird places around the world

20 seriously weird places around the world

The world is a weird (and wonderful) place. And from a rose-coloured lake to a Japanese island ruled by cats, we've got twenty pictures to prove it. 1. Spotted…

26 Jul 2017 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right