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A day in Sens

"Sens, this is Sens!". You have just got off the train or left the A19 or A5 motorway to walk the cobbles of the old town and discover the "city of Brennus". Your first stop will undoubtedly be Sens Cathedral. When you arrived, you will not have failed to be intrigued by its silhouette gazing over the roofs of the town... .


9am, first stop: Saint Stephen's Cathedral

There is obviously no debate that this is where you should start… After visiting the cathedral, every other aspect of the town is crystal clear. We tend to forget that Sens is home to the first Gothic cathedral ever built, no less! A little historical reminder: Gothic art is the artistic movement that followed Romanesque art and is characterised by the use of ribbed vaults and flying buttresses to support a building. In Sens, we see these techniques being used for the first time on the scale of a cathedral and ours still retains many Romanesque features. It is for you to make the distinction. Each period, each archbishop, has contributed their bit to the building which has, nevertheless, managed to retain a beautiful harmony. The best way to discover the cathedral is to hire a tablet or audio guide at the Tourist Office. In summer, guided tours are available almost daily.

 

Portail principal de la cathédrale et statue de Saint-Etienne. - Photo Pierre Pichon

Saint Stephen's Cathedral, main entrance and statue of Saint Stephen. - Photo Pierre Pichon

 

10am, second stop: the covered market

After this very informative visit, the covered market is the perfect place to enjoy the atmosphere of the town centre like a true Sénonais, and to relax. Fully take in the colours, smells and flavours. Many visitors are surprised by the shape and size of our market and the variety and quality of its produce. What about you?

Don’t forget to go up to the upper gallery, a good idea if you want to take a photo!

 

Les halles du marché de Sens ouvrent leurs portes les lundis, mercredis, vendredis et samedis matin toute l'année. - Photo Pierre Pichon

Sens' covered market is open all Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings. - Photo Pierre Pichon

 

10.30am, third stop: tour of the town

As you leave the market, follow the arrows! The arrows bear the image of our local hero, the Gallic chieftain Brennus, who defeated Rome in 390 BC. Following a route indicated on the ground and in the booklet you bought earlier at the Tourist Office, you will explore some of the town centre’s most amazing sights.

As at the cathedral, you can also opt to hire a tablet or audio guide or to take a guided tour (summer only).

 

Le parcours Brennus, un itinéraire historique et commenté à travers la ville de Sens. - Photo Guy Giroud

The Brennus Tour, a historical tour in city center - Photo Guy Giroud

 

12pm, it’s lunchtime!

The town centre has many restaurants waiting to welcome you. With creperies, brasseries and cuisine from around the world, there is a whole selection of different restaurants in Sens for you to choose from.

Our recommendations:

La Cuisine de Lolie set back a little from the Grande Rue, where you can quietly enjoy quite inventive cuisine prepared with fresh market produce. You will certainly love the cheerful colours of the décor and its terrace, set in an interior courtyard, with its little garden and awnings.

L’Hôtel de Paris et de la Poste : this is quite an "historic" address in Sens. A former canon’s dwelling, it has housed a restaurant for more than 200 years. It serves a "Bistro-style" set menu with an introductory menu that is good value for money.

 

Déjeuner à Sens

Enjoy a gourmet break in one of Sens restaurants - Photo Studio Morize

 

 

2pm, head to the Museums of Sens

You have recharged your batteries, and it’s a good thing! You will certainly be amazed at the wealth of treasures at the Museums of Sens. If you don’t have much time and have only a little interest in museums in general, then concentrate on the Gallo-Roman collections (in the underground rooms) and the Cathedral Treasury, which is still one of the richest in France (or even Europe), even if the revolutionaries didn’t spare us. If you have time and are in your element, indulge yourself: don’t forget to take a look at the Treasury of Villethierry with its 847 Bronze Age artefacts. As you move through each room, you will come across two sculptures by Rodin, paintings by Brueghel, and a lovely Watteau de Lille, among other pieces.

 

Entrée du palais des archevêques qui héberge les Musées de Sens. - Photo Guy Giroud

Entrance to the Archbischops Palace, which nowadays houses the Museums of Sens. - Photo Guy Giroud

 

4pm, a spot of nature

Head to the  Parc du Moulin à Tan. This is a truly remarkable garden (indeed, it was labelled as such in 2011). There you will find a mini farm, play areas for children, an arboretum, a rose garden, a fitness trail and a wildlife trail and, above all, some very exotic greenhouses with tropical collections. You can even go there by bike: if you haven’t brought your own, the Tourist Office rents them out.

 

Serres tropicales du Parc du Moulin à Tan. - photo Jean-Luc-Boulard

Tropical greenhouses in Parc du Moulin à Tan. - Photo Jean-Luc-Boulard

 

Evening meal in Sens

Here you have an opportunity to try out a second restaurant in Sens. Why not go for a slightly more gastronomic establishment, such as le Clos des Jacobins or la Madeleine ?

 

An evening at the Lumières of Sens

If you visit us between mid-June and mid-September, this event is not to be missed. This show, projected onto the façade of the cathedral has become a must-see of the Burgundy summer season. Outside the summer period, open the door of our charming little Italian theatre. With its red velvet seats, boxes, balconies and ceiling fresco, it is truly a little box of delights with a programme that is varied and always popular.

 

Spectacle son et lumières sur la façade de la cathédrale de Sens. - Photo Pierre Pichon

Show "Lumières de Sens" onto the Cathedral of Sens. - Photo Pierre Pichon

 

If you stay longer...