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The Cathedral of St Étienne (Saint Stephen) at Sens, one of the earliest Gothic buildings in France, was begun in 1140 and belongs mainly to the 12th century, but was not complete until early in the 16th century. The architect who completed it, William of Sens, went on to rebuild the choir of Canterbury Cathedral in England – the link being Thomas Becket, who had previously spent several years in exile around Sens. The story of Thomas's murder is told in the twelfth-century windows in the north aisle of the choir, just part of the cathedral's outstanding collection of stained glass. Read more...
The 13th Palais Synodal has been turned into a museum complex housing Le Trésor, the finest collection of church vestments in France. Tapestries, robes ( including that of Thomas à Becket) and chalices are on display. Other sections of the museum include archaeological finds, and the Marrey private art collection includes a magnificent piece by Rodin 'L'Age d'airain', and works by artist Peter Brueghel. Read more...
Since June 1999, the fore-nave of the Abbey church has been open to the public. Archaeological digs conducted over a ten-year period have unearthed vestiges (stonework and sarcophaguses) from the 6th, 7th and 9th centuries. Worth seeing are the chapter room (12th century), storeroom (14th century) or cloister (17th century), and as you leave the Abbey, admire Saint-Jean Tower (12th century) and its impressive stone steeple with eight convex sides. The crypt has some of the most ancient mural paintings in France, and houses the tomb of the bishops of Auxerre. Read more...