France: Burgundy

Chablis

The wines of the Yonne
By Rosemary George MW

This Guide was last updated on 22 December 2009
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Main towns and villages

Chablis

There is little here to retain the tourist, apart from wine. The main street has butchers, bakers, a green grocer, a charcuterie selling regional cheese and andouillettes (offal sausage), and a cheerful café with a terrace that serves a good glass of Chablis. Market day is Sunday. Older houses are clustered around the church, which is said to be modelled on the cathedral of Sens, and the two conical towers of the Porte Noël are a reminder that Chablis was once fortified. The river Serein flows gently past the edge of the town, at the foot of the slopes of the grand cru vineyards. A few of the wine growers have shops but usually it is more rewarding to arrange a cellar visit. Stray into the side streets and you will find tasting caveaux with vaulted ceilings, and signs discreetly advertising a wine grower behind closed cellar doors.

Auxerre

The departmental capital of the Yonne, this town well repays a visit. Arrive from the direction of Chablis and you are greeted with a view of russet-coloured roofs and church towers. There are narrow cobbled streets to explore, an old clock tower and half-timbered houses from the 16th century. The cathedral of Saint Etienne is a fine Gothic building and the abbey of Saint Germain boasts some of the oldest frescoes in France in its crypt.

Noyers

In the valley of the Serein, this is a picturesque place, with medieval houses and cobbled streets.

Vézelay

This is the finest tourist destination of the region. The basilica, where Saint Bernard preached the 2nd crusade, is breathtaking, with magnificent carved capitals. You approach it up a fairly steep cobbled street that is lined with craft shops as well as the occasional wine shop.

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