Video: Auxerre and its Magnificent Cathedral

During our cruise we visit the medieval city of Auxerre France. Originally the capital of Lower Burgundy, the town prides itself on its lavish Renaissance houses, fine churches and particularly its magnificent cathedral situated close to the river.

At the junction of the Canal du Nivernais and the River Yonne, Auxerre is a beautiful city and a pleasant port, with elegant buildings gracing its waterfront. Auxerre was an important spiritual center and a big market town for timber and wine.

The River Yonne made Auxerre’s fortune. When rivers were the only viable means of transport in Europe, a good navigable river flowing towards interesting markets was the secret of wealth. Its town center has a pedestrianized main square, timber-framed buildings and a 15th century tower with a richly-decorated 17th century clock.

Cobblestone streets line the old quarter, and an open-air market beckons. Spires of three churches form an impressive skyline. The Gothic Cathédral St-Étienne, aka Auxerre Cathedral, was completed in 1560, taking over three centuries to build. The interior is lit up by 13th century stained glass. Flying buttresses lend support and architectural interest. The Musée St-Germain houses an exhibition of Gallo-Roman finds. It occupies a 12th century abbey founded by the wife of the first Christian king of France. The crypts are decorated with the oldest frescoes in France (9th century).

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