Trek Notes - France

Auxerre to Avallon

Auxerre to Avallon Walk (Burgundy)

HOLIDAY TYPE: Independent (no minimum group size)
MEALS: Continental breakfast and 6 dinners
DEPARTS: Every two days from May 13 to Sep 20
DURATION: 9 days (8 nights)

General Information
This is one of France's best rambles, following the GR13 south. It starts in medieval Auxerre, one of the prettiest cities in France, with its narrow streets of half-timbered houses. Joan of Arc slept here (twice). You go on to stay in the fortified medieval town of Vézelay, from where St Bernard of Clairvaux launched the Second Crusade. You pass through the Cote de l'Auxerrois vineyards (with opportunities for wine tasting at Irancy, and Coulanges) and cherry orchards with lovely views down across the Yonne. Then across hillsides crowned with little woods and pretty riverside villages, including Arcy and St Moré (with once-inhabited caves).  

We use the local train service to give you considerable extra flexibility. It allows you to shorten the walks (if you want) and take in more on your rest days. (We provide tickets and timetables.)  

Day 1 - Arrive at Auxerre
A medieval city with narrow streets of half-timbered houses. Two Gothic churches: St Etienne, 13-16C with magnificent stained glass, and St Germain, 13-14C with 9C crypt are worth a look.
Day 2 - Auxerre/Accolay(17km/5hrs) 
Half an hour's pleasant walk through the old town to the station, then a 7 min train ride to pick up the GR13 at Champs-sur-Yonne. Then through vineyards with lovely views over the river, through the wine village of Irancy, down to the Yonne again at Cravant, and on to Accolay.
Day 3 -At Accolay 
Perhaps walk to Arcy-sur-Cure (10km/3hrs). Here you can visit the extensive caves and grottoes in the limestone cliffs. The halls and galleries extend for over 800m and contain an emerald-green lake. Or visit the intriguing Manoir de Chastenay, then catch the train (20min) back to Accolay.
Day 4 - Accolay (Sermizelles) to Vézelay(13 km/3hrs) 
Start with a 30min train ride to Sermizelles (or you can walk from Arcy, adding 3hrs). Then follow the GR13, across the wooded slopes of Montmartre (the hilltop offers circular views over the whole region). Then on through the picturesque village of Domecy-sur-le-Vault, to Vézelay.
Day 5 - At Vézelay 
Our delightful little hotel here has a quiet garden overlooking the countryside beyond. In 1146, St Bernard of Clairvaux launched the Second Crusade from the abbey of this fortified medieval hilltop town. From the plain an old pilgrims' path climbs to the Basilica of St Madeleine - it dominates the town and is visible for miles around. Inside, the sculptures surrounding the great pillars are like a medieval miracle play in stone.
Day 6 - Vézelay/Avallon (16 km/ 4 hours)
Walk down through vineyards to the River Cure. Picking up the GR again, there's a short climb, then an easy walk through vines and woods to Pontaubert. Finally, you stroll along the shady banks of the Cousin to Avallon.
Day 7 - At Avallon 
Formerly the Druidic college of Aballo, this ancient fortified town has survived numerous sackings. You have the whole day to explore the place: stroll round Vauban's ramparts, visit the church of St Lazare and the clock tower. Perhaps visit the Musée du Costume and the new Maison des Traditions Agricoles et Artisanale in the old abattoirs.
Day 8 - Avallon/Auxerre
Today you take the train (1hr) to Auxerre, giving you time to explore the medieval city (Son et Lumiére at the Cathedral at night). Or stop off en route and do any missing bits of the walk (Sermizelles to Arcy) or explore the Roman site at Escolives. Or, for a last wine-tasting, take a short walk to the very popular "Caves de Bailly".
Day 9
Leave Auxerre after breakfast.


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