Explore the History of Autun, France


Autun is a fascinating town steeped in history. Take a stroll into its streets and you’ll be surrounded by ancient buildings, quaint shops and fantastic cafes. It’s a perfect day out for the whole family.

The Romans ruled this town and the surrounding area for more than two millennia. The resulting archaeological remains are some of the most visible in northern and eastern France, making it a highlight on any tourist itinerary.

There are also numerous other historic buildings in Autun, a number of which have been beautifully restored. One of the most attractive is the Cathedral of Saint Lazare, a Roman style building within the walls of Autun dating back to the 12th century with subsequent additions.

Other interesting sights include the impressive Lycee buildings and the ‘Covered Passage’, a shopping arcade that has a beautiful glass ceiling. There’s also the theatre and town hall, as well as a number of museums containing artefacts that reflect different cultures.

The Morvan Natural Parc lies to the west of Autun and is worth exploring on a day out. The area offers many walking and mountain bike trails and is an excellent place to spend a day in the countryside.

Bibracte, just over half an hour’s drive away is another popular place to visit. This was once the capital of the Gauls in France and is now a centre for archaeological excavations and reconstructions. There are many museums and reconstructed houses in Bibracte, including the Maison du Patrimoine Oral de Bourgogne where you can see orally transmitted traditions.

At the extreme south east of the town, is a pyramid-shaped funerary monument from the 1st century AD. This is one of nine necropolises around the city and it’s thought that this was once the largest of them all.

You can walk through the necropolis to see the tombs and the remains of a temple. There are a number of other interesting historical buildings in the town, such as the ancient theatre and the old prison, built on a circular plan.

The Rolin museum is a good starting point for your visit to Autun and has a large collection of Roman artefacts, as well as a great deal of information about the local history. It’s a popular place for tourists and students alike and is a must visit on any trip to Autun.

If you’re a keen photographer then there is an excellent photo studio here, as well as a gallery. There’s also the Musée des Arts Décoratifs where you can find a great collection of antique furniture and ornaments.

Archaeological digs are held at several sites in and around Autun, with a range of finds being studied. Among them is the necropolis at St-Pierre-l’Estrier, which emerged around AD 250, when the three main necropolises in the town had begun to decline.

Whether you’re a history buff or simply enjoy a good walk, you’ll be blown away by the 2,000 years of history that awaits you in and around this charming town.

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