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Auxerre France Auxerre

Auxerre (pronounced 'oh ZAIR') has a picturesque old town on a hill on the west bank of the River Yonne, with winding streets and squares below belfries and half timbered houses. The best view of the town is from the Pont Paul Bert, built in 1857, where there has been a bridge of one kind or another since the Romans came to town.

If you arrive by train at the gare SNCF on rue Paul Doumer, you will most likely cross the river into town using this bridge. From Auxerre you can visit the Chablis vineyards in northern Burgundy and it is also a good place to hire a canal boat at the pleasure port.

Important sights in Auxerre include the Carolingian crypt in the Église St Germain (€5.60) on the rue Cauchois, which has frescoes of St Étienne that were painted in 850 AD, some of the oldest in France. Building work on the Gothic Cathédrale St Étienne began in 1215 and it is yet to be completed: one of the west front towers is unfinished. The stained glass windows have remained in place since the 13th century, and there is another crypt here (€2.50), this time from the 11th century, with some interesting frescoes of its own.

Map of Auxerre

The old quarter abounds with nice looking old houses and, as the centre is pedestrianized, there is no better way to discover its charms than on foot. The Tour de l'Horloge is the centrepiece of this area, with its spire and clock faces, and was built in 1483 as part of Auxerre's fortifications. It is now mainly of interest for the two colourful clock faces, with one 'sun' hand that tells the time of day and another 'moon' hand that follows the lunar month, rotating every 29.5 days.

There is a food market on Tuesday and Friday mornings at place de l'Arquebuse, a couple of blocks south of the old town.