Burgundy: Places to Explore

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Auxerre

Auxerre is an evocative, architecturally interesting town with a trio of imposing churches perched above the Yonne River and an ample supply of antique houses. Yet it’s an underappreciated place, perhaps because of its location, midway between Paris and Dijon. Fanning out from Auxerre's main square, place des Cordeliers (just up from the cathedral), are a number of steep, crooked streets lined with half-timber and stone buildings. The best way to see them is to start from the riverside on the quai de la République, where you can find the tourist office (and pick up a handy local map); then continue along the quai de la Marine. The medieval arcaded gallery of the Ancien Evêché (Old Bishop's Palace), now an administrative building, is just visible on the hillside beside the tourist office. At 9 rue de la Marine (which leads off one of several riverside squares) are the two oldest houses in Auxerre, dating from the end of the 14th century. Continue up the hill to rue de l'Yonne, which leads into the rue Cochois. Here, at No. 23, is the higgledy-piggledy home and shop of a maître verrier (lead-glass maker). Closer to the center of town, the most beautiful of Auxerre's many poteaux (the carved tops of wooden corner posts) can be seen at 8 rue Joubert. The building dates from the late 15th century, and its Gothic tracery windows, acorns, and oak leaves are an open-air masterpiece.

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