Friday, July 2, 2010

Our first sight seeing...Auxerre

About 20 minutes from our house is the delightful French town of Auxerre.  Sir Michelin says

The Romans built Autessiodurum on the road from Lyon to Boulogne, near a simple Gaulish village and from the 1C it thrived.  By the Middle Ages, Auxerre was a spiritual centre, and was declared a Holy CIty by the Pope in the 12C.  Two great figures in history have visited Auxerre (that is before the Irey's).  In 1429 Joan of Arc passed through twice and on 17 March 1815, Napoleon arrived on his return from Elba.

Today, we set off for Auxerre, to see what we would see.  As we approached the town, we were all a bit excited, as it was the first major town we had seen since landing at CDG.  We headed towards the city center and found that the farmer's market and the flea market were going on.  We found parking (about 1/2 mile from the market) and meandered towards the market.  The market had a lot of clothing vendors, which we weren't that interested in, but then we turned the corner and could smell chicken cooking.  Down the stairs we went to the undergound Farmers' market.  Oh my, what delights we did see.  Fresh fish greeted us at the door.  Then several cheese booths and multiple bakeries with so many temping delights.  In the center of the market were the fruit and vegetable vendors.  The produce was gorgeous and well-priced.  We ended up buying butter lettuce, tomatoes, goose berries, croissants, grougeres, beniets, and 4 different types of cheeses.  Dinner was in the making and here is what it ultimately looked like!

After the market, we decided to explore a bit more of Auxerre.  We walked to the old town centre along this street:

  and stopped for a quick lunch of these

Then we walked under the Tour de l'Horloge which was built in the C15.  The astrological clock (17C) has faces showing the movement of the sun and moon.

After walking through town a bit more, we arrived at the Cathedrale St.-Etienne.  This fine Gothic cathedral was built between the 13C and 16C to replace the existing Romanesque one.

Our first site of the Cathedrale as we rounded the corner.

The sculptures on the doorways (13C-14C) were mutilated in the 16C during the Wars of Religion, and the soft limestone has weathered badly.  Among the scenes are the Last Judgment, and Christ between the Virgin Mary and St. John.

The ambulatory is lit by a magnificent array of stained-glass windows, composed of 13C medallions in which blue and red are the dominant colours.  They represent scenes from Genesis, the stories of David, of Joseph and of the Prodigal Son and many saintly legends.
We also visited the crypt and treasury, however photos were not allowed in these areas.  The crypt is the only remaining part of the 11C Romanesque cathedral and has 11-13 C frescoes.  These were incredibly cool, especially given out beautiful they were and some were 1,000 years old.

James and Ethan with a praying Joan of Arc.

After the Cathedrale, we headed downhill to the River Yonne.

Auxerre is a charming, old town.  There are lots of more sights for us to explore on later excursions.  I will was the hottest it has been all year (about 94) and it was quite hot!  There is not a lot of air conditioning and we found ourselves going into a department store at one point, to just try to cool off.  We also stopped to have a drink at a bar along the river, but it was not very cool (however, they did give us one relatively large glass of ice to share!)
This is my gorgeous niece Katie who is traveling with us, enjoying break from the heat.

And her mom (my sis Kerry)

And James, so glad they gave us a bit of ice!

And to end this long post...James had to travel all the way from Pasadena to find this store!!!

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