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The countryside around Sens is known as Burgundy’s granary: cereals and orchards predominate. The town grew up on the River Yonne, and with the Cathedral St-Etienne at its centre, it became an important ecclesiastical entity. Sens is small and easily accessible, with the main points of interest radiating out from the cathedral.

This was the first of the great Gothic cathedrals in France, and it has been inspiration in layout and design for many others, including Canterbury Cathedral in England. Work began around 1135, initiated by Archbishop Henri Sanglier, and up until 1622, this diocese had pre-eminence over Chartres, Auxerre, Meaux, Paris, Orléans, Nevers and Troyes. The cathedral itself has magnificent stained glass windows which date from the 13–19thC.
At nightfall, the magnificent facade will light up. A hi-tech 20 minute light show will bring the 850 years of history to life every Friday, Saturday and public holiday from June 28 to September 13.

Alongside the cathedral, the Palais Synodal has been turned into a museum complex housing Le Trésor, the finest collection of church vestments in France. Tapestries, robes ( including that of Thomas à Becket) and chalices are on display. Other sections of the museum include archaeological finds, and the Marrey private art collection includes a magnificent piece by Rodin 'L'Age d'airain', and works by artist Peter Brueghel. Don't miss the Orangerie garden on the south side of the cathedral, a prize winning exhibit.

The 19thC covered market building is a stone's throw from the cathedral, and the charming Italian style theatre in Boulevard des Garibaldi, dating back to 1882 is worth a visit.

Le parc du Moulin à Tan in Sens has just been awarded the label ‘remarkable garden’ by DRAC, the government arts and culture organisation. Covering 10 hectares by the river in Sens, this garden offers a variety of landscapes with tropical plants, a wild area for natural flora and fauna, and a rose garden. The next step is to extend the park by a further 4 hectares to include an arboretum. Of the 18 parks with this distinction in Burgundy, this is the only public park.

Enjoy the cafes in the Place de la République around the cathedral, the half-timbered houses and classy shops along the pedestrian walkway Grande Rue. There is an excellent cheese shop at 1 Vieilles Etuves called Parret, selling wines to accompany your choice.

Places to eat

  • La Madeleine, Rue Alsace-Lorraine
  • Le Clos des Jacobins, 49 Grand Rue
  • Au Crieur de Vin, Rue d’Alsace-Lorraine
  • Auberge de la Vanne, Ave Senigallia

Market Days

Monday and Friday

Bed and breakfast
Atelier Bob'Arts, Cornant near Villeneuve-sur-Yonne


car hire

Comparative and competitive prices and you can book online now

getting to and from Sens
Sens is 120 km from Paris by road.
By train:
TGV services
regional trains

By bus:
Travel by bus

Pam Elson ©burgundytoday.com