The ecclesiastical historical Burgundian Sens!

And here I bring you to Burgundy right at the top of it, updating a nice post me think on the ecclesiastical historical Burgundian Sens! A beautiful town on history and architecture that I like visited by chance! Let me tell you a bit on Sens!

As we go to all over our belle France, we have so much to see ,sometimes even with money there is no time. However, this is a nice surprise visit to the beautiful ecclesiastical , historical Burgundian Sens. A bit of an anecdote as before never had visited Sens. While talking with my Franco-American friends in Paris one of them history teacher at Paris Univ IV (now retired) decided to get the group to visit Sens and so we went by car a group of about 8 ,and this is how I saw the city, later to come back with the family!

Sens  is in the  Yonne department 89 in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and about 100  km south of Paris.  Sens  is traverse by two rivers, the Yonne ,one of the tributaries on the left bank of the Seine river and the Vanne on the right bank.  The Yonne has a total of 292 km long crossing the town south to north coming from the Morvan before joining the Seine river at the town of Montereau-Fault-Yonne. There is an aqueduct de la Vanne that provides a great part of the water to Paris, long of 156 km the work started in 1866 and finished in 1874 ordered by the Baron Haussmann that wanted to bring potable water from sites far from Paris and provide a regular flow of water to the city.

There is regular TER train service from the gare de Bercy  and the gare de Lyon in Paris. Internally, the city has 14 lines of buses to cover its needs but the best is still the car here. The roads A6 and A5 passes by here very nicely. I only have come here by car.

A bit of history I like. The city was called  Agendicum in the Roman period , however, the actual name of the city comes from the Gaullic tribe of Sénons. By the year 53 BC, during the invasion of Gaul by the Romans Ceasar had spent winter six legions here just south of the city and you can see many remains of this period in the town of  Motte du Ciar  near the  joining of the Vanne and Yonne river.

The Diocese of Sens was founded in 240 by Saint Savinien. His archbishops had an important place in the Church of France: In the 9C, Pope John VIII gave the archbishop of Sens the title of “Primate of Gauls and Germania” and until the 17C, the Bishop of Paris depended on the archbishop of Sens. These seven bishoprics constituted an exceptional ecclesiastical province which was reflected in the motto Campa acrostic of the initials of the seven seats enshrined under the arms of the Cathedral of Sens. In 769, the Archbishop of Sens, Villicaire, was at the helm of the French Episcopal mission which was attending Rome at the council responsible for judging the intruding pontiff Constantine II, with the title of Archbishop of Gauls. The archbishop’s throne dominated in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, the episcopal throne of the bishop of Paris. In 1622, the Ecclesiastical province of  Sens  was divided into two, Chartres, Meaux, and Orléans became under the new archdiocese: Paris.

In 1015, the county of Sénonais was first attached to the crown and finally to the death of the last Earl Renard  the Bad in 1055.   In 1135, the city chose to rebuild its cathedral in an innovative style. It was the first Gothic cathedral in France in 1163, under Louis VII, for nearly three years, Pope Alexander III, exiled by Frederick Barbarossa, fixed himself with the Curia at Sens. The city receives the Archbishops of Canterbury Thomas Becket and Edmond (Saint Edme). In 1194, a bailiff royal is located in Sens. It is the first of the royal domain to be so localized while the institution has been known since 1184. . On 27 May 1234, Archbishop Gauthier le Cornu organized and celebrated the royal marriage between Saint Louis and Marguerite de Provence at the Cathedral of Sens, where many personalities were invited. May 28, 1234, Marguerite de Provence is crowned queen of France.  The Parliament of Paris gave the Archbishop of Sens the title of “Primate of Gauls and Germania” to remind all the pre-eminence of the Archbishop of Sens dating from the end of the 8C, when he was systematically appointed legate Permanent Pope for the free kingdoms. The title is preserved today. During the reign of Louis XIII, the Diocese of Paris was erected in archdiocese by dismemberment of that of Sens. Death of tuberculosis shortly before Christmas 1765, the Dauphin Louis-Ferdinand was buried in the cathedral. The Dauphine Marie-Josephus, who had contracted the evil of her husband by treating him, joined him a few months later. Their tomb was desecrated in 1794 during the French revolution, but their remains, thrown into the common grave, were placed in their tomb in 1814 on the orders of their son king Louis XVIII.

In 1914, the city welcomed the French General command  before the launch of the Battle of the Marne. The first Nazis motorcycles arrive in Sens on June 15 , 1940 at the end of the morning and troops with armored vehicles were in by 14h. By 1944, Sens was abandoned by most of its Nazis occupants  and the city was crossed on August 21st 1944 in the early afternoon by Troops of General Patton’s USA Third Army who left the next day at dawn in the direction of the east.

Things to see in Sens in my opinion are:

St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Saint Etienne) , the first Gothic cathedral in France. The former Archbishop’s palace: the Synodal and archbishop Palace. The covered market: inaugurated in 1882, it is located on the Place de la République, opposite the Cathedral.  The House of Abraham: half-timbered House of the 16C built for the Tanner Nicolas Mégissier, also called House of the Four winds. Tree of Jess carved on the post, representing the Virgin and eight kings of Israel. The working instruments of the tanners are carved on the studs.



The courthouse (palais de justice), built on the site of the former royal Palace, built in the 11C, it retains a round part corresponding to a Gallo-Roman tower of three levels (the ground floor is incorporated into a private property). This palace welcomed Saint Louis after his marriage with Marguerite de Provence, celebrated at the Cathedral of Sens. Its central body was rebuilt in the middle of the 16C, the walls of the royal Chapel (served by the parish priest the neighbouring church of Saint-Maximin) persists, encroaching on the pavement. The stables were located across the street in front of the courtyard. The Queen’s halls, located in the northern prolongation of the king’s halls, were done  around 1500. The Royal garden and the prisons have recently taken up constructions in the south.  Today, the TGI or main courthouse is the tenant there.

Saint-Jean-lès-Sens Abbey,  Church of Saint-Savinin-the-young of Sens,  Park of Moulin in Tan and its tropical greenhouses.  Jean Cousin Park, La Grande Rue: Pedestrian shopping street. The banks of the Yonne and the Church of Saint-Maurice. In the central aisle of the cemetery rests Saint-Denis, the last  Mamaluke  of Napoleon 1st, who after serving the emperor at St. Helena until his death retreated in Sens where he died. The museums of Sens, are in the building adjacent the Cathedral and Justice palace; more in the Sens museum webpage here:

Some additional webpages to help your planning for a visit to Sens, it is worth a detour. These are:

The city of Sens on its heritage and gardens:

The Sens tourist ofice

The Yonne dept 89 tourist office on Sens:

The Bourgogne-Franche-Comté tourist board on Sens

Hope it helps your planning to visit this wonderful city of Burgundy not far from Paris. This is Sens in all its splendors ,enjoy it as we did.  And, remember, Happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

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