May 4, 5, 2014 – From home to Auxerre, France

Today started really, really early. We are up at 2 AM and on the road to the airport at 3 AM. The nice check-in lady at American seeing our hiking poles and limps, asks us if we’d like wheelchairs. Nothing like getting the trip started on an upbeat note. We are now officially elderly. We demur. We are selected as TSA pre-check people and zip through the security lines with our shoes, belts, laptops and liquids in tact. We are happy to see that the Admiral’s Club opens at 4:30 AM and settle in until flight time.

John in lounge with walking stick
John in lounge with walking stick

Our flight to Dallas goes smoothly and after a long layover we board the flight to Paris. We both get a glass of champagne before the flight departs. John gets up to get something out of the overhead bin. In the act of turning around he knocks over his glass of champagne onto my lap. Oh, eek, my whole left leg is awash in champagne. In his horror at the error John sits down and pulls out his handkerchief to start to try to mop things up. In doing this, he knocks my glass of champagne onto his right leg! So with champagne pants and caviar dreams, we start the second leg of our journey.

Well, really no harm done. The champagne dries. We watch movie after movie. We do not sleep. We arrive in Paris, collect our rental car, and plug in our GPS. We have decided to stop in the city of Sens on our way to our first night stay in Auxerre.

It is market day in Sens. We drive around and around the city center trying to find a parking space near the cathedral. Finally we find a space several blocks away. The car is parked and we are off in search of lunch.

Near to the cathedral we find the Cafe de la Halle offering a plat du jour with entree, coffee and dessert for E12.50. The entree turns out to be duck confit with Lyonnaise potatoes. It’s really good although a little heavy. The coffee is rich and the three little desserts are pretty impressive. Thus sated, we head to the cathedral.

The interior of Cafe de la Halle
The interior of Cafe de la Halle

Duck confit and Lyonnaise potatoes
Duck confit and Lyonnaise potatoes

Dessert consisted of a slice of chocolate pie, a slice of coffee pie (fabulous) and a fresh strawberry mousse
Dessert consisted of a slice of chocolate pie, a slice of coffee pie (fabulous) and a fresh strawberry mousse

The Cathedrale St. Etienne (St. Stephen) is one of the largest early Gothic churches in France. Begun in the 12th century, it was finally completed in the 1600s. Its flying buttresses were among the first ever constructed. It still sports a fine Burgundian roof and a tall spire. Incongruously there is a flea market going on in the cathedral square.
Front facade of St. Etienne
Front facade of St. Etienne
Colorful Burgundian roof
Colorful Burgundian roof

Inside the space soars to the vaulted ceiling supported by massive columns. Fine stained glass windows dating to the 12th century adorn the walls. There is a whole window telling the story of Thomas Beckett who sought sanctuary in this church and later returned to England to die a martyr.There are at least four large windows dating from around 1140.
Interior space of St. Etienne
Interior space of St. Etienne

Early stained glass panel of St. Eustace
Early stained glass panel of St. Eustace

Unfortunately during the Wars of Religion many of the fine sculptures on the tympanum were beheaded.
Beheaded apostles and saints on the tympanum
Beheaded apostles and saints on the tympanum

We’ve been up about 36 hours now and are beginning to flag. Auxerre is still 58 km away. I find I am falling asleep without knowing that I am falling asleep as we begin the drive. John starts to get tired as well. With a series of breaks for coffee and walks to keep us awake, we arrive at the Hotel Parc du Marechaux in Auxerre. Exploring will have to wait until tomorrow. Around 5 PM we crash and sleep until 8ish. By the time we decide we should eat something, the kitchen is closed. We opt for a glass of wine and some cheese and bread in their cute bar. Hopefully our nap will not keep us up tonight.
Cute bar with fringed bar stools
Cute bar with fringed bar stools
John looking at the vintage travel posters in the bar
John looking at the vintage travel posters in the bar
Our dinner of cheese and bread with a glass of white Burgundy from Vezelay
Our dinner of cheese and bread with a glass of white Burgundy from Vezelay

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