May 6, 2014 – Auxerre, France

Not surprisingly we slept like the dead last night. We’ve learned from prior experiences that usually we are so exhausted the first night that we sleep only to be followed by two or more restless nights.

Our red room at the Hotel Parc de Marechaux
Our red room at the Hotel Parc de Marechaux

We have breakfast at the hotel. It is a dreary looking day with light rain. We have only today in Auxerre so a few raindrops are not going to stop us. Our first stop is at Visitor Information. They have a walking tour of Auxerre which should take us to all the most interesting spots. After collecting our map, we are on our way.

A local artist, Francois Brochet (1925-2001) has carved wooden statues that are civic art around Auxerre. He has a museum here in Auxerre but it is only open July and August (of course.) The first statue that we come upon is of the 17th century writer, Nicholas Restif de la Bretonne. Further down the street there is a statue of Marie Noel, a famous poet in France. The last statue we encounter is of Cadet Roussel, a character from the French Revolution. The walking tour is named after him.

Nicholas Restif de las Bretonne, a writer from Auxerre
Nicholas Restif de las Bretonne, a writer from Auxerre

Marie Noel, poet
Marie Noel, poet

The statue of Cadet Roussel with half-timbered house in background
The statue of Cadet Roussel with half-timbered house in background

Because it is important that there is historical data that I actually participated in this trip, I allow one picture to be taken of me by the fifteenth century clock tower. The tower was built on an ancient Gallo-Roman structure. The town of Auxerre originally was a flourishing Roman outpost named, Autissiodorum.
Mary near the clock tower
Mary near the clock tower

Another view of the clock and tower
Another view of the clock and tower

We walk around town looking at the various historical sights. Up and down hill we tread. We see half-timbered houses and Gothic and Romanesque churches.
Fine half-timbered house with the Abby of St. Germain in the background.
Fine half-timbered house with the Abby of St. Germain in the background.

The Cathedral of St. Etienne built between the 11th and 16th centuries is our main goal of the day. Earlier on in our perambulations we attempted to get in but there was some sort of service going on. Now we head back to try for a second look. The outside of the cathedral has elaborate carvings on the three front tympani. Although it is ravaged by both war and time, the medieval art is very impressive.
Cathedral of St. Etienne
Cathedral of St. Etienne


The interior of the church is much like the cathedral in Sens only on a less grand scale.
Interior of Cathedral of St. Etienne in Auxerre
Interior of Cathedral of St. Etienne in Auxerre

According to what I have read online, the crypt is not to be missed. It is a Romanesque space from an earlier church that the newer Romanesque-Gothic current church was built upon. There are some pretty fabulous frescoes in this dimly lit, austere space.
John descends into the crypt
John descends into the crypt

Jesus with two of the gospel writers icons (the winged man and the eagle) along with two menorahs showing a link to Old Testament
Jesus with two of the gospel writers icons (the winged man and the eagle) along with two menorahs showing a link to Old Testament

Finishing up at the Cathedral we go in search of lunch. It is almost 2 PM and we know if you don’t make lunch by 2 PM you are SOL. Surprisingly there seem to be very few places open. We find a brasserie and sit outside enjoying a leek tart and salad for me and a salad Nicoise for John. Around 3 PM we head back to the hotel.

We are only supposed to be going back to change our outerwear since it is no longer raining and pick up the car for a short trip over to Chablis but we make the mistake of lying down to stretch out our creaky joints. Uh oh, I am asleep.

So John and I end up taking a nap instead of visiting Chablis. I guess we needed it. Later we head out around 8 PM in search of dinner. Now we are used to things not being open on Sunday. And also on Monday. But Tuesday, too?! Out of a list of five places that the hotel has sent us to only one is open. It’s pretty crowded but we get a small table next to a little girl who seems charmed by the mere existence of John. She smiles when he smiles and laughs when he laughs. She is intrigued by this extrememly large man speaking gibberish.

Our waitperson is a lovely young French girl who has been perfecting her English by living in Stockholm for the past year. John speaks his French to her and she speaks English back. I smile. She shows us the board with the menu on it. The menu is the menu for the weekend apparently since on a Tuesday most of the items are unavailable. It would have been easier if she had just told what to eat. It is all pretty good but not amazing.

We climb back up the hill to the hotel. We have a jovial Franglish conversation with Eric at the desk. It’s off to blog and bed.

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