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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€). 

Clock Tower Auxerre,  Josette Laliaux, Auxerre Tourist Office Auxerre on river Yonne

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 Then the railway superseded river transport and it turned into a trade backwater.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. L'Aspérule at 34 Rue du Pont was awarded its first star in the 2015 Michelin Guide. 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.

Market Days

Tuesday and Friday at Arquebuse the market hall off Boulevard du 11 November
Wednesday in the centre, Rue Draperie

Boat Trips

One or two hour duration on L'Hirondelle, departing from the Quai at 15.00 and also 10.30 in July and August

Irancy in SpringBIVB, Gadenne Chablis Wine Growing areaBIVB Ibanez

around Auxerre

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.

For a top of the range luxury bed and breakfast experience we recommend Château de la Resle and La Borde Maison d'Hôtes. For stylish self-catering accommodation, Desjardins Cottage is a good find in the countryside 14 km from Auxerre.

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Hotels in Auxerre

Overlooking the River Yonne, the Hotel Le Maxime is a good location, traditional in style In the peaceful setting of the garden and grounds, Parc des Maréchaux is a relaxing venue  Le Relais des St Pères is B&B in a renovated coaching inn with four rooms in the centre of Auxerre


Find wineries to visit at a click on the Rue des Vignerons website. This is a free service where you book online, there's information about the visit, prices, map and directions, and you can buy the domaine's wine at a reduced price.

Pam Elson