A 12C Romanesque belfry is situated to the West of the other religious buildins at St. Germanus. The space results from the destruction of the nave of the desanctified church. Other conventual buildings of the Abbey centered around the remnants of the cloister: a sacristy, chapter house and cellars are today and Art and History Museum. The belfry is a popular landmark of the city.
St. Germanus is the ancient religious center of Auxerre. It was a Benedictine Abbey in the 6C. Remains odf a later Carolingian two-level crypt lie beneath the later 13 & 15C Gothic church. We visited the crypt but could not take pictures of the frescos. The church fabric consists of a Lady Chapel a crossing and South transept and a little more. A fine South doorway gives upon the cloister. The church is not in use.
The crypt is the only remnant from the previous Romanesque church and has massive groined vault construction tha t supprots the base of the magnificent Gothic choir. In the crypt are spectacular frescos of the 11 and 13C. One is of Christ and 4 Angels on white horses (my good copy was destroyed in a hurricane) and the later one of Christ in Majesty surrounded by Evangelist symbols and with a menorah at his left hand (7 branched candlestick). (It is dark there and pictures are hard to take).
The treasury of Auxerre cathedral is particularly rich in antique fine arts: enameled reliquary caskets as early as the 12C, and equally old portable polyptych altars. There are old hand scribed music books and early printed and hand painted ones as well (early 1500's). If it open be sure to visit and help support the church. You will enjoy the time spent.
The stained glass windows of Auxerre range from 13C medallion style in the choir area, with vivid reds and blues, to 16C lancets below the transept Rose windows. The early works reproduce such items as the story of David and Goliath, the Tree of Jesse lives of Saints (eg. Mammes). The oldest are of the Chartres type and worth a study of the detail.
The sculpture inside of the cathedral is decorative, but is variably realistic or even licentious under the consoles in the South transept. In other places they are mascarones that are symbolic, fanciful or historical. All are of high quality and unusual in such profusion. Not to be missed.
The transepts , their Rose windows and the crossing were added in the mid-16C. The tympanum of the South Door is devoted to the stoning of St. Stephen while the north tympanum displays the Life of St. Germanus.
This is Flamboyant verticality at its acme (although only 99 feet high). The fine limestone used at Auxerre allowed forthe elimination of capitals on the vertical columns so that they could run unimpeded into the vaulting. (The buttresses are internal). This is accompanied by a triforium that is delicate tracery. The clerestory windows copy those of Chartres: two lancets and a large oculus above.
The tympanum and lintel are intact here. The story is of the early active years of John and Jesus and its three levels includes the baptism and other events. On the flank bases are the story of David and Bathsheba somewhat damaged but showing skill at limning the human figures. In the border above are statuettes of the Seven Liberal Arts and Philosophy. On the right higher up is a large group depicting the Judgement of Solomon. The variety of subjects is somewhat like the South Porch at Chartres and is a worthy sequel
The tympanum is gone but the lintel shows the Coronation of Our Lady. The recessed arches depict scenes from her life (hard to decipher). On the bases of the arms of the doorway are medallions with scenes from Genesis carved in fine relief. On the right the creation of Adam and Eve and on the left their banishment and scenes of Noah's Ark. These are earliest 14C.
In 1217 it was decided to demolish the Romanesque church and build a cathedral in the new modern French style. The choir was the first part built (1234) over the retained ancient crypt. Apparently the old nave remained until the early 14C, but then was replaced with a daring new interior and a Flamboyant Gothic Facade of 4 arcaded stories with three portals and a large and a small Rose window The South tower was never built (lack of funds). There must have been a large pool of artisans available because the sculpture and interior stained glass were extensive and distinctly emulate Chartres. Unfortunately the Huguenots defaced much of the facade but the central portal can be recognized for what was there originally. The tympanum has a Christ seated between St. John and the Virgin. On the lintel is a Last Judgment and on the lateral door piers the Wise (rt) and Foolish Virgins (lt) while above are elaborate recessed arches
This is a small Museum, housed in an old Chateaux , it's more of an educational museum mainly for children as it has various "hands on " exhibitions. There is a permanent collection of fossils and minerals. At present there is a Polar exhibition showing polar exploration and animals that live in the polar region.
The museum is all in French, they do not have any English information.
Special entrance for wheelchair users, but some exhibitions are upstairs and there is no lift.
The museum is FREE.
Photo no 2 shows the opening times.
The house of the Francois Brochet the wood sculptor, is open to the public and free of charge.
There are a couple of rooms showing his art work as well as his colourful figures.
It isn't a large exhibition, but if you are interested in his work it's worth a visit.
This pretty little chapel houses a collection of colourful wood sculptures. They are all done by a local artist named Francois Brochet. You can also spot some of his work dotted around the town. They are brightly coloured and certainly put a smile on your face.
Entrance is free, and it's open July - September.
This Gothic style cathedral dates back to the 13th century. It has some beautiful stained glass windows, these are reputed to be some of the best preserved windows in France.
The crypt is worth a visit, it has a very an unusual mural on the wall.
Entrance is free, apart from the crypt (€3).
Just beware of the beggars that stand at the door.