It is easy to find charm in the leaning medieval half-timbered houses and churches of Troyes, the ancient capital of the Champagne region. The town also offers top-quality museums – including the outstanding Musée d'Art Moderne – and shopping outlets, and is a good place to try the regional speciality, andouillette.
The centre of Troyes is scattered with marvellous churches, four of which are open to the public. The first is the sumptuous, high-naved St-Pantaléon on rue de Vauluisant, which is filled with sixteenth-century sculpture, stored here away from the ravages of the Revolution. North is Troyes’ oldest church, the twelfth-century Ste-Madeleine, on the road of the same name and remodelled in the sixteenth century, when the delicate stonework rood screen – used to keep the priest separate from the congregation – was added. A lovely garden provides a peaceful oasis in the summer. A short way to the southeast, between rues Émile-Zola and Champeaux, is St-Jean-au-Marché, the church where Henry V of England married Catherine of France after being recognized as heir to the French throne in the 1420 Treaty of Troyes. Between it and the cathedral is the elegant Gothic Basilique St-Urbain, on place Vernier, its exterior dramatizing the Day of Judgement.