The alluring riverside town of Auxerre (oh-sair) has been a port since Roman times. The old city clambers up the hillside on the west bank of the River Yonne. Wandering through the maze of its cobbled streets you come upon Roman remains, Gothic churches and timber-framed medieval houses. Views span a jumble of belfries, spires and steep tiled rooftops.
The area south of the city, anchored by the pretty town of Irancy, is known for its ruby-red wines. Auxerre also makes a good base for exploring northern Burgundy, including Chablis, and is an excellent place to hire a canal boat. Quiet backroads and walking trails thread through the forests, fields, pastures and vineyards of the surrounding Auxerrois and Tonnerrois countryside, making for some appealing walking and cycling.