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Highlights in Auxerre: Son-et-Lumière in the beautifully restored Cathedral St. Etienne, from June 1 - Sept 30. Wine tasting each Thursday during July and August at the Tourist Office (3 €) or on L'Hirondelle II boat (11€).
Situated on the River Yonne, Auxerre is a very pleasant town with an unhurried air about it. The town originally became prosperous as an active port on the wine route. Then the railway superseded river transport and it turned into a trade backwater. Now holiday cruisers and hotel barges bring the river to life making it one of the focal points of the town. Stroll along the leafy boulevard on the bank and people-watch from the terraces of the cafes and restaurants.
Auxerre is the capital of the Yonne 'département' and home of the government offices and administration for the region. With 40,000 inhabitants, the town has a gentle, relaxed atmosphere with interesting shops and lots of casual restaurants. You can park on the quay and visit the tourist office at No 1. The old town starts right behind the quay. From here, walk through the steep narrow cobbled streets with their timbered houses up to the newly restored Cathedral St Etienne. Le Petite Monde d'Edith in Rue Fourier is a delightful little restaurant, but it is small so booking is advisable. Rue Fécauderie is also interesting with restaurants and boutiques. The Tour de l'Horloge, a magnificent sundial, leads into the pedestrian shopping area.
AJA the Auxerre football team is an institution in the town. Talent spotters are always on the lookout here - the club has produced some world star football players.
To the east of Auxerre is the prosperous little town of Chablis, 15 km down the road, famous for its white wine from the Chardonnay grape, sometimes referred to as 'liquid gold'.
During archaeological digs at Escolives Ste Camille in the south, evidence was found of vineyards in the 2ndC AD, and as a result, vines have been replanted in this area. The pretty village of St-Bris-le-Vineux in particular is worth a visit, coming under the Côtes d'Auxerre wine classification. Each Thursday at 17.30 during July and August, the Tourist office in this village offers wine and cheese tastings in the cellars for 3€ per person, children free of charge.
Apart from the vines, this area is particularly famous for its orchards of apple and cherry trees. In spring the landscape is a magnificent sight, epitomised by the paintings of Georges Hosotte who lives in the area and has a studio there.
In 1998 Irancy was granted an AOC (appellation d'origine controlée) for its light, fruity red wines from the Pinot Noir grape. Since then the prices of the wine have been on the rise but there is increasing interest in this area and it is worth a visit. For reasonably priced white wines visit Chitry. Vaux, Bailly, Coulanges la Vineuse, Jussy and Migé are other villages to note.
Tuesday and Friday at Arquebuse the market hall off Boulevard
luxury bed and breakfast
Places to visit Nearby
I Quai de la République, tel: 00 33 386 52 06 19 www.ot-auxerre.fr
Competitive, comparative prices and you can book online with Auto Europe
Centre Hospitalier Auxerre, 2 Bld de Verdun 89011 Auxerre tel: 00 33 386 48 48 48