Although Avallon (pop 7,700) has lost most of its old charm and importance, a portion of its history has withstood the test of time. The town was once part of great empires like the Romans, the Arthurian Kingdom and the Duchy of Burgundy. However, a significant part this glorious past has been lost to countless pillages, fires and plagues. These days Avallon spends its retirement peacefully; atop a hill that overlooks the River Cousin, surrounded by the lush greenery of the Morvan Regional Park.

Avallon’s old town sits on a triangular promontory that lies north of the River Cousin. You can arrive at Avallon via SNCF buses or trains, at the station located northeast of this.

The main commercial street of the old city is the rue Grande Aristide Briand. This north-south bound street unfolds under the looming 15th century Tour de l’Horloge whose spire dominates the old city skyline. Close by is the Musée Avallonnais [5 rue du Collége, +33 386340319, www.ville-avallon.fr/, Free, Guided Tours ad/ch €5/1.50]. The municipal museum was founded in 1862 and it features collections of geology, archaeology and even notable religious art and expressionist artworks (especially that of Georges Rouault).

The quirky Musée du Costume [6 rue Belgrand, +33 386341995, www.ville-avallon.fr/, ad/ch €4/2.50]. Located further up north from the Avallon Musuem, the intriguing Museum of Costumes stands in a 17th century hunting manor. This museum merits a visit for its vast collection of costumes and attires that date between the 18th century and the groovy seventies.

One of the oldest, surviving monuments in Avallon, is the 12th century Collégiale St- Lazare [rue Bocquillot]. Situated under the nose of the clock tower, this collegiate church was once a popular pilgrimage destination, as it housed a piece of the skull of Saint Lazarus himself. It was believed that this skull provided protection from leprosy. Although not as popular as it once was, the St Lazare church still attracts some visitors, thanks to its ancient Romanesque façade. The walls of the church are slightly battered and bruised; yet they still carry the marking of the old carvings regarding the zodiacs and the Apocalypse. There were originally three portals encircling the church. However, the church lost one of its portals in the 17th century, when the northern belfry fell, crushing the portal in the process. The two remaining portals boast the simple Burgundian Romanesque style.



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AVALLON:   1. Tourist office  2. Train station  (north of map limits)  3. Tour de l’Horloge  4. Musée Avallonnais  5. Hôtel de Ville  6. Musée du Costume  7. Collégiale St- Lazare  8. place Vauban (north of map limits)