Abbaye St-Germain

Abbey in Auxerre

This ancient abbey with its dramatic flying buttresses began as a basilica above the tomb of St Germain, the 5th-century bishop who made Auxerre an important Christian centre. By medieval times it was attracting pilgrims from all over Europe. The crypt, accessible by tour (in French, with English handout), contains some of Europe's finest examples of Carolingian architecture. Supported by 1200-year-old oak beams, the walls and vaulted ceiling are decorated with 9th-century frescoes; the innermost sanctum houses St Germain's tomb.

Housed around the abbey's cloister, the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire (admission free) displays rotating contemporary art exhibits, prehistoric artefacts and Gallo-Roman sculptures.