By Stephanie Sack, Barge Lady Marketing Guru
Welcome to Auxerre, one of our favorite “petite villes” in France and visited in October 2014 by Communications Manager Stephanie Sack, who was cruising on the barge Luciole. Here is her report:
The Barge Ladies love to explore and discover the best of all things French! Welcome to Auxerre, one of our favorite small towns in France. Situated on the River Yonne about ninety minutes outside of Paris, Auxerre is a pleasant borough with a welcoming ambiance and a beautiful port. As a main stop for barge routes in Northern Bugundy, Auxerre’s bustling commercial center and preserved Cathedral of St Etienne offer visitors a modern immersion into a mid-sized French city, as well as a reverential glimpse into the past.
The town originally became prosperous as an active port on the wine route; unfortunately the railway eventually superseded river transport and it turned into a trade backwater. These days, holiday cruisers and hotel barges bring the riverfront to life, making it one of Auxerre’s marquee attractions. Approaching the port in late afternoon, I could see the Auxerre’s picturesque skyline, showcasing the Cathedral’s elegant lines and intricate spires.
With 40,000 inhabitants, the town has a gentle, relaxed atmosphere with interesting shops and lots of casual restaurants. Walking through the steep narrow cobbled streets with their preserved timbered houses up to the newly restored Cathedral St Etienne, I learned about the town’s long maritime history, which recently was refreshed thanks to updated public paths and brightly lit bridges along the riverfront. Here I am in the streets of Auxerre standing by an oldtime British phone booth in its classic red color, a recent gift from a “sister” town in England! A walking tour of the interior of Cathedral revealed where Joan of Arc stopped by to pray, as well as the famous stained glass windows, which were nothing short of stunning. Jumping off into the pedestrian shopping area, I visited small cafes, boutique chocolatiers, and adorable florists, all the while enjoying the leisurely local pace. It was a perfect afternoon in Auxerre and I cannot wait to return.
For more information about this small city in Burgundy, check out: