The main tourist office is down here at the river and starts its walking tour here - here it recommends too to get the best panoramic vantage point of the town ie in their opinion to admire 'one of Frances most beautiful panoramas'! (and the town's not even mentioned in my travel bible, the Lonely Planet!)
But anyway where ever you start the walking tour if you're following the 'Follow the Thread of History in Auxerre' you will eventually arrive at the Marine neighbourhood where the bargemen and river workers lived and the river on which they worked!
In behind the Clock tower and the Town Hall is the square, which looks more like a big parking lot, is a building covered in medallions of local celebrities. This building was once a Count's palace and then Auxerre's bailwick and presidial seat were held here until the Revolution. It then became the law courts in the 19th century.
In 1869 the museum of Auxerre and the library were established here an the buildings facade was decorated with medallions by a local artist in homage to local celebrities.
In this square looking back to the clock tower is an interesting view behind the timbered buildings back in the square looking like a rabbit warren of small medieval buildings on top of and beside each other. Tucked down on the bottom in the corner is a WC!
The Town Hall's Square - Place de l'Hotel de Ville - called this in every french town i visited? - is a lovely square surrounded with interesting timbered buildings.
You can see the 15th century clock and bell tower from here and theres Marie Noels statue along with some interesting hanging shop signs! Apart from the elegant looking Town Hall built in 1733 the square looks nicely medieval!
Being pretty much smack bang in the middle of the town centre from here are interesting streets taking you out in various directions - down Rue Fecauderie past the pretty covered passageway and past the cathedral to the river or in the direction of the Counts Palace behind the clock tower - but otherwise follow the walking tour devised by the Auxerre Tourist Information Centre marked with a triangle along the streets giving you loads of information of the recommended sights.
Following the 'Follow the Thread of History in Auxerre' walking tour you get to see a significant number of historical sights with the accompanying information - but keep your eyes open along the way for pretty and interesting streets along the way in between those sights pointed out to you.
I found it a really interesting and photogenic town to roam around! especially with the number of old or medieval buildings and streets around the town.
and as usual I was in a hurry so unfortunately i didnt read about some other very interesting places on the recommended tour until too late!
The walking tour guide calls this a fine building of shops - it is certainly has a rather attractive facade to it - a neo-Renaissance stone facade built by architect George Roux in 1869.
this is apparently one of Burgundy's rare covered passageways! (along with that of Autun)
In addition to specific buildings pointed out and given historical information about as you read and walk your guide map on the 'Follow the Thread of History in Auxerre' walking tour around Auxerre keep your eyes open to see the many interesting and rather beautiful buildings, especially the 'half timbered' ones, and streets making up a rather delightful visit to the town.
So heres a few more you might enjoy...!
This lovely 16th century mansion seen along the road Rue de Paris is a good example of civil Renaissance architecture in the Auxerre region.
The facade is embellished with bays, fluted pilasters and extravagantly decorated dormer windows can be seen.
Not long before the Revolution this was the residence of Count Joseph Magnus de Sparre - colonel of the Royal Swedish Regiment in Versailles.
The sisters of the Visitation of St Mary (rather than the visitation of Jesus Christ?) established themselves in Auxerre in 1658 like many other 'counter reformation' congregations. Work on the chapel began in 1860 and lasted for 'several dozen years'.
The facade was not constructed until 1714 by the architect Guillaume Joyneau of Sens.
The chapels interior with its rare Burgundy dome is regarded as particularly remarkable. Now this building houses the Auxerre Museum and displays the work of local artist Francois Brochet, responsible for many of the polychrome figures and sculptures around Auxerre town centre.
Auxerre's college was founded in the second half of the 16th century by Jacques Amyot who was bishop of Auxerre and apparently a famous translator of Plutarch's works. The bishop donated the college to the city of Auxerre and it was run by the Jesuits until the order was abilished in 1762 during the Revolution.
It was then run by laymen followed by the Benedictines from St Germain Abbey and then converted into a royal military school in 1777.
It became a boys school in 1802 and then Auxerre's first high school during the 20th century.
This place is not open for visiting as its a school but the architecture and lovely sculptured garden can be admired through the gates from the main road.
The surrounding wall is apparently the only medieval fortification element that can still be seen above ground in Auxerre.
The current crenallated walls and tower were constructed in 1320. A windmill was built in the tower during the 15th century.
St Germain Abbey, up on the hill above St Nicolas Place and the Marine neighbourhood, has apparently held the remains since the 5th century of Saint Germain who died in Ravenna in 448.
Archeological work has only reached back to the 6th century construction but apparently the Carthingian crypts built between 841 and 859 are regarded as examples of some of Europe's most beautiful! - these are accessible by guided tour but unfortunately the place was closed when I was there!
The abbey church was reconstructed in the 11th century with the facade and Saint Jean tower completed in the 12th century. New monastic buildings were constructed at this time with the monks hall,( of the Benedictines order?), chapter house and sacristy which still exist, completed in the 13th century. The cloister, sleeping quarters and refectory were reconstructed in the 17th century.
The old conventual buildings now contain Auxerre's Museum of art and history with prehistoric, Gallo-Roman and medieval collections on display and temporary exhibitions held through the year.
This rather attractive mansion, in a rather attractive street heading up to the Saint Germain Abbey, may date from the 17th century and creates attention with its large roof and overlapping truss. It has recently been restored and now holds a master glassmaker's workshops and exhibition.
Interestingly tucked under some trees at the square a couple of houses along from this house is a British phone box!
This is where the passenger barges landing stage was located here on the river in front of this square. Passenger barges transported travellers and goods from Auxerre to Paris several times a week and interestingly apparently often included the young Napoleon Bonaparte who wouldve been travelling from Brienne to Paris and then later when he was older during his 'hundred day' attempt to regain power after his exile.
The large building with the statue of Saint Nicolas, the patron saint of catholic bargemen and their assistants, seems to have existed since the 17th century and the polychrome statue form the 18th century.
The Saint-Loup parish's brotherhood of Saint Nicolas begged from travellers here until the disbandment by the Revolution.
The fountain that you see here was built in 1832 by an italian artist for a square elsewhere but transferred here in 1909.
The large restaurant that you also here in the square, before the Revolution, was the passenger barges' warehouse and offices with stables on the ground level for the horses that hauled the riverboats. The stables were converted into the neighbourhoods wash house for a period of time during the 19th century.
The Tourist Information Centre 'Follow the Thread of History in Auxerre' walking map says that this place or square is one of the loveliest in the Marine area - its down near the river and where all the bargemen and assistances lived and worked.
The passenger barge landing stage was just near here in front of Saint Nicolas Place, and transported travellers and goods from here to Paris several times a week.
This apparently also often included the young Napoleon Bonaparte on his way from Brienne to Paris and again years later during his attempt to return from exile.
I thought this spot was particularly scenic and photogenic with lovely timbered houses and a water well with colorful flowers all below the also picturesque Saint German Abbey.
The large house in the mid of the photo is a beautiful residence characteristic of old time river warehouses with the lower half, or ground floor, in stone for the storehouse and timber frame for the apartment levels.
There are many lovely timbered or timber framed houses around Auxerre - most likely from around the 16th century -
look out for the ones with interesting sculpted decorations on the corner posts.
I saw a few of them which adds to the novelty of being in and roaming around a town with such character and historical sights to see!