(5th - 18th centuries)
A major heritage site in the Yonne, listed as such by many tourist guides, Saint-Germain Abbey is a must-see monument for art and history lovers.
Built on the tomb of Saint Germain, bishop of Auxerre, and emblematic figure of Christianity in the West, Saint Germain Abbey is a monastic complex preserved in its entirety. Although its origins date back to the 5th century, the oldest preserved buildings date from the 9th century. These are the crypts of the church, famous for their cycle of Carolingian wall paintings, unique in France.
The visitor will be seduced by the architectural ensemble, mixing Carolingian constructions (9th century crypts), Romanesque (Saint-Jean tower, chapter house and former sacristy from the 12th century), Gothic (cellar and upper church from the 14th century) or classical (scriptorium and dormitories rebuilt in the 17th century and cloister, former refectory and abbot's house from the 18th century). The western part of the church, which collapsed in the 19th century, leaving the Saint-Jean tower isolated, has been the subject of excavations for about ten years: an archaeological foreground shows the results of this research.
The Saint-Germain abbey houses the Saint-Germain museum, a museum of art and history classified as a French museum, which offers visitors the chance to discover a range of objects:
- the old sacristy: dating from the 12th century, it allowed the celebrants to put on the ornaments and liturgical vestments before the various services. It was also used to store the objects necessary for worship. Today, the shroud is dedicated to the life and iconography of St. Germain. Visitors can discover an exceptional piece of cloth, the Shroud of St. Germain, for its age, its luxury and its beauty. Dating from the year 1000, and having been used for a translation of the relics of the saint, it still has the status of a relic.
- Located in the east wing, in contact with the church, the former monks' dormitories, rebuilt in the 17th century, now house the collections of the Auxerre museums. Visitors can discover the life of the Gallo-Romans through themes devoted to religion, funeral rites and daily life.
- the scriptorium, a vast room dating from the 12th century and rebuilt in the 17th century, lit by large windows, was used by monks for reading and copying. Today, it houses medieval collections. In the extension of the scriptorium, a room is devoted to numismatics from the Gallo-Roman period to the 19th century.
Different areas are dedicated to temporary exhibitions and conferences according to the calendar:
- The cellar, a vast 14th-century Gothic space, and a former place for storing foodstuffs,
- The abbot's dwelling, the abbot's former house, built in the 18th century, then the only space accessible to the laity since it was located before the fence,
- The conference room, a former refectory dating from the 15th century, redesigned in the 18th century, now hosts meetings and conferences throughout the year.
The abbey is partly accessible to wheelchair users (cloister, church, chapter house, medieval room, toilets): please contact 03 86 18 02 90 during the week and 03 86 18 02 98 at weekends.