Autun

Autun cathedral from Couhard village

Location:  45km West of the cottages.

Nearby: castle of Sully, Morvan landscapes, castle of Couches

Why we love this place:

It is a unique place which combines Roman and Gallic remains, walls from the early Middle Ages and Gothic monuments. There you wil find :
  • a roman theater, set into a green hill, 148m in diameter measurement which could accommodate up to 20,000 people. It was more important than the theaters (now extinct) in Nimes and Arles. Partially restored, it is now the place for cultural and folkloric events.
  • Two Roman gates in the heart of the city: the gate of St. Andrew and the Arroux gate.
  • The Gallo-Roman temple of Janus, 27m in height: it combined the two local methods of construction, Roman construction in stone and the architecture of Gallic monuments and temples using wood.
  • Roman ramparts (originally 4-kilometers long), into which a number of existing dwellings are now integrated.
  • The view of the whole city, built against the mountain of Planoise, from the village of Couhard. The ugly pyramid of Couhard (also called pierre de Couhard) located there was certainly a Roman tombstone. A pretty stroll taking 1h30-2h passes through Couhard which overlooks Autun (See the guide "Les sentiers d'Emilie" which is available to our guests).
  • Saint Lazare cathedralSaint-Lazare Cathedral built in the twelfth century. It is a perfect example of the harmony achieved between the Romanesque and flamboyant Gothic styles, starting from its original conception and incorporating many additions over time. It is distinguished by the quality of its conservation and the expressiveness of its many sculptures, particularly its "tympan" (see stunning interactive image and short videos). If it is not under restoration, you can access the tower by using the beautiful fifteenth century staircase.
  • The historic area around the cathedral is, in itself, worth a visit. From this district, the highest area of the city, you can look across the slopes of the mountain against which Autun is nestled: from this perspective you are spared the views of modern buildings and shopping centres!
  • The pedestrian street of the Cordiers has the charm of grand cities, but without their ostentation.

See Google Maps of the cathedral from Saint-Louis square and more images of Autun

A little history: Autun was founded by Emperor Augustus twenty centuries ago to replace the hill fort or oppidum of Bibracte. Designed from the outset according to a grandiose plan as the "little sister of Rome" it reached its peak in the third century AD. The end of the Roman Empire was disastrous for the city; it was besieged and devastated many times. The city was saved by medieval Christianity when the bishops of Autun, jealous of the spreading influence of Vezelay, claimed to have some relics of Saint Lazare which they exhibited in the cathedral. Autun then became a place of pilgrimage and the reputation of the city was restored. The first Dukes of Burgundy had their court in Autun before moving the court permanently to Dijon.

Autun cathedralAutun - Saint André GateAutun gallo-roman temple of JanusAutun cathedral empereur Constantin sculpture