Sens tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Sens in Yonne

Visit Sens (Burgundy, France)


Sens is an important local town on the Yonne River, north of Auxerre in the Yonne department of the Burgundy region.

Exploring Sens

As well as having several interesting historical monuments - above all the cathedral - Sens is also an important local shopping town and regional centre.

Cathedral Saint-Etienne

The main reason visitors come to Sens is the gothic Cathedral Saint-Etienne that dominates the town. The cathedral was especially important because it was the first gothic cathedral built in France and acted as a role model for many other gothic style cathedrals built later both in France and elsewhere in Europe.

Built in the 12th century the cathedral replaced an earlier Roman style cathedral on the same site. The new architecture was intended to bring a new sense of light into churches, principally be using side-supports along the length of the church on the outside, which reduced the structural importance of the walls themselves, and enabled windows to be added along the sides.

On the outside it is the facade with the entranceway and large rose window that is the main highlight. Inside, it is the stained glass windows that are the main attraction, and the 18th century organ. Louis IX was married in the cathedral in 1234, and Thomas Becket also sought refuge here.

Other Sens highlights

If you are interested in church relics and ornaments, be sure to visit the museum in the adjoining Bishop's Palais which has a very good collection of medieval religious art. The dungeons in the palace are especially interesting, with walls covered in graffiti by medieval prisoners.

Bishop's Palace in Sens, Burgundy

See also the Maison Abraham, a very lovely 16th century colombage house. The ornately carved corner post is an example of an 'arbre de Jessé' (which represents the family tree of Christ starting with Jesse, father of King David).

Take a look at the market hall across from the cathedral (market day in Sens is Monday, Friday and Saturday) then explore the  lovely streets in the town, with expensive boutiques set in medieval colombage houses.

The pedestrianised Grande Rue is the centre of the old town and activity in Sens, and the place to go when you are here for shopping.

Finally, the Yonne river banks in the town are very pleasant, and overlooked by the Saint-Maurice church.

Places to visit near Sens

Among places of interest nearby visit Villeneuve-sur-Yonne to the south and Villeneuve l'Archeveque to the east.

The Natural Reserve at Saint-Clement is just a few kilometres to the north of Sens, while the Chateau at Vallery to the west also merits a detour, perhaps passing by Villebougis (3* villages in bloom) en-route.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Yonne guide and the Burgundy guide.

See also:

Map of Sens and places to visit

Visit near Sens with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Yonne

Tourist classifications

Sens is classified as a village in bloom (ville fleurie) 4*

Address: Sens, Yonne, Burgundy, 89100, France || GPS: latitude 48.247, longitude 3.2877

Plan your visit to Sens, Burgundy

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Parc du château de Thorigny: remarkable garden (10km)
  • Chateau de Motte-Tilly: national monument (27km)
  • Joigny: recommended detour (27km)
  • Jardin botanique de Marnay-sur-Seine: remarkable garden (36km)

Market days in Sens, France

Regular market(s) are held in Sens each Wednesday & Monday all day & Friday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Sens (Francais)