Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Overnight in Auxerre

We left Sancerre after a quick visit to a rather disappointing brocante, more like a boot sale actually held in misty rain. We had now left the eastern extremes of the Loire and entered Burgundy on our way to Auxerre.

The town of Auxerre has a population of 45,000 and I have to say that we really didn't know much about it at the time. It was on the way to somewhere else and that somewhere else was for a week in Dijon. The town sits overlooking the River Yonne where the department takes it name. It's actually not that far from Paris, only about 170 kms but of course we travelled much further than that to get this far. We were in fact travelling north again. It was an uneventful drive but later that night I had the most wonderful dinner but more about that later.

I'm not sure from which direction we entered Auxerre but like most times we had an interesting time locating our hotel. In this case I learn't more about our hotel and Auxerre while posting this "Wednesday's in France". We still had the receipt from our hotel in Sue's trip diary. It was the Hotel de Seignelay and my research tells me it took it's name from Guillaume de Seignelay, Bishop of Auxerre during the 1200s. The Bishop undertook the initial construction of the Cathedrale St Etienne which sits at the highest point overlooking the River Yonne. Building began 1215 on the foundations of a 11th Century crypt and was completed in its first stage over 30 years. It did however continue to have rebuilding stages up until 1560. The ravages of the 100 year war and the wars of religion necessitated much construction over the three centuries.

Back to the meal and our hotel for the night - I guess we were feeling less adventurous after a couple of days on the road but we did wander into the old town and took a stroll around its narrow streets to discover its intriguing architecture. Many of the buildings are half timbered with contrasts of medieval carved stone buildings and wonderful arched walk ways. The hotel was entered by a small wooden double door lane way which I imagine allowed horse drawn coaches to enter. Things change and on our stay, there was a classic motorcycle that rested in the entrance. Our room was average but clean and comfortable. The rooms seemed to hide behind trees, bushes, and little courtyards with tables and chairs which we enjoyed on the sunlit spring afternoon. A glass of wine in hand, I was able to tap away some emails back home on our notebook.
Too tired to investigate a place to eat too far away from our hotel, we booked in at the hotel restaurant. It's menu appealed and we could then just walk a few steps back to our bed afterwards.

If it wasn't for the Maitre D I'm sure the night would not have been so enjoyable as it was. Sue was able to practice her French with the Maitre D who had a wonderful sense of humour.
For my entree I had les Ouffs Mourette which exploded with flavour in my mouth and we both had Coq au Vin washed down with a local wine suggested by our Maitre D.
Looking back at our receipt, the overall cost of our night stay, meal and a garage fee seemed very reasonable at 166 euro.

An early start was planned for the next day's drive which would take us through Chablis and Tonnere before then travelling south for a week in Dijon.

Our hotel was located on the edge of the old town. You entered via the wooden doors  to an sunlit and leafy courtyard.
It had a restful feel about it and we took advantage of its ambience with a glass of local wine while using the wifi and catching up on news from home.

And as we entered this classic motor cycle sat waiting for its owner to return.
Much of Auxerre's architecture in the old town featured many half wooden houses.

The area is famous for it's wine with Chablis only a short drive further down the road.

This is the main road as you drive further into the old town. We walked from our hotel through the back streets and lane ways to St Etienne Cathedral at the town's most highest point.

Then there were much younger buildings like this one that lacked the care of older ones. A bit sad really.

The curved section on the exterior of this building is what I imagine is a stairwell. Note the very small peek hole window at the top of the picture.

The various periods of architecture make Auxerre an intriguing town to explore.

Some of its past from the middle ages still exists.
Just out of interest, I checked out the hotel on the internet to discover that their prices don't seem to have increased greatly over the last 3 years and it has very good reviews - mostly applauding the staff on their friendly and courteous service. I wonder if a return visit to explore Auxerre in greater depth might be in order one day?


  1. Auxerre looks a lovely place, the sort of towns I like to spend time just walking around. Great history and architecture. Love your photos especially the one second from the bottom. Brilliant. Keep well Diane

  2. What a delightful old town. I love the architecture and I'm still drooling about that explosion of flavour you mentioned. France is one place to which we want to return for sure because, even though we saw a lot, we didn't see nearly enough!

    1. Kay - nice to hear from you. I'm afraid Sue and I have become a little boring with our travels. Friends ask where we are off to for our next trip and the answer is always - Oh we thought maybe France. Back there in May for the fifth time.
      Those eggs were fantastic.
      More delightful old towns to come - this is from our second trip.

  3. Diane - wish we also had more time to explore more - each time I post Wednesday's in France I seem to have learn't more but also missed more. I took that photo with just a little pocket camera that's travelled with us previous trips. It's finally been replaced.

    1. Leon I have just discovered what Linda means by no public profile which definitely means people will not find you. If you are signed out on your computer (may work signed in!) and you click on the picture on your comment on my blog it leads no further. It simply says no public profile..... Think you should look in to i, Have a good weekend. Diane

  4. I like the architecture in that region.

    1. Wish we could have enjoyed more of it with our overnight stay but our meal was something to remember.

  5. Stunning pics of this village with the old wooden houses ... Sue .. have you ever read the book "On Rue Tatin" ? it's set in the village of Louviers near Giverny and reminds me very much of this wonderful place.
    Great food .. good wine and a Maitre D with a sense of humour ... that's as good as it gets.

  6. I have heard the title, but not read it, Dianne. Just googled it and it seems to be a book I must buy. Thanks.


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