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Travel back in time at the Museums

You only need to take a few steps before you realise that History has left its mark on Sens and Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. Visiting the Museums of Sens is also a journey into the past and across the ages, from Agedincum to the modern city.


SENS, AT ONE TIME AGEDINCUM, AT THE HEART OF THE WAR OF THE GAULS

Let’s imagine we can offer you a new kind of holiday: a journey back in time ! In the museums located in the former Archbishops’ Palace, you’ll be truly immersed in it. We travel back as far as the Palaeolithic Age to find our ancestors.

For the Gauls however, fast forward to 390 BC. On the staircase of the museum, you will come across an impressive statue of Brennus, chief of the Senones who defeated Rome that year. This is how the people of the Sénonais entered the history books..


Salle gallo-romaine des Musées de Sens

In the underground of the Museums of Sens', the Gallo-Roman collection - Photo Communication ville de Sens

 

350 years later, Caesar stationed six legions in Agedincum, the future town of Sens, before going to face Vercingetorix and the Gallic tribes at Alésia..

With peace established, a Roman city arose where the Gallic site had been, with streets crossing at right-angles. This urban layout still exists today, the Grande Rue corresponding to the old Decumanus Maximus, while Rue André Gâteau, extended by Rue de l’Ecrivain, corresponds to the old Cardo Maximus.

The town grew, as evidenced in the mosaics, sculptures and restored façade of the baths that can be seen in the underground part of the museums. Above all, however, it is the funerary steles which make up the richness of the Museums of Sens’ Gallo-Roman collections :Incorporated in the ramparts that were built in haste at the time of the Barbarian Invasions in the 3rd century AD, they have been kept in an exceptional state of preservation, having been protected over the centuries from the ravages of time. This collection has made the Museums of Sens a point of reference for the Gallo-Roman world..

 

Statue de Brennus sur le toit de l'Hôtel de ville de Sens

Anatole Guillot's masterpiece, made in 1904, Brennus statue on the roof of Sens' City Hall. A plaster example is to be seen in the Museums - Photo Hervé Letourneur

 

RELIGIOUS ART TREASURES OF SENS

The capital of a Roman province in ancient times, Sens became a religious metropolis with the advent of Christianity in the 4th century. In the Middle Ages, the Archdiocese of Sens ruled over the dioceses of Chartres, Auxerre, Meaux, Paris, Orléans, Nevers and Troyes (to remember this, think of the mnemonic Campont) and its Archbishop held the title "Primate of the Gauls and Germania", which means he was second only to the Pope, no less! The Cathedral Treasury is housed in the former chapel of the Archbishops’ Palace which adjoins the building. It has some wonderful remnants, even though the Revolution passed through here! You can see some exceptional pieces, including splendid Flemish tapestries from the 15th century, the chasuble of Thomas Becket and the Sainte Châsse, a reliquary in ivory. It is impossible to describe all the riches contained in the Treasury Room, you will have to see it yourself to believe it! Oh alright, here’s a little taste.

 

Le Trésor de la Cathédrale

Three of the most exeptional pieces of the Cathedral Treasury - Photos Musées de Sens, Emmanuel Berry, J.-P. Elie

 

WHY "MUSEUMS" OF SENS?

Where Sens is concerned, it is impossible to speak in terms of only one museum because of the wealth and variety of its collections. As well as the Gallo-Roman collections and Cathedral Treasury, there are other remarkable pieces, including the Marrey collection and its art ironworks, paintings from the Flemish and Dutch schools and two sculptures by Rodin. We have a soft spot – we must admit – for the Treasury of Villethierry, with its 847 Bronze Age jewels.

 

 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION