🇫🇷 Day 5 – Bittersweet Auxerre

The 4th largest city in Burgundy and the capital of the Yonne department, Auxerre is a beautiful place about an hour’s drive from Asquins. Last year it was significantly longer due to the wee bridge at Blannay being shut due to construction works. This year though, we are straight through. It’s a nice jaunt up to Auxerre through a tunnel and rolling hillside, arriving in Auxerre through a nice tree flanked road revealing the multiple cathedrals and churches on the south edge of the river Yonne.

We got ourselves parked in the usual place, underneath the dense trees that sit beside the river, and walked towards the bridge that crosses; there seemed to be a lot of photographers pointing their cameras so I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Turns out quite a lot; standing on the zenith of the footbridge reveals the magnificent water front.

We head up the hill towards Cathédrale Saint-Étienne d’Auxerre. What a cracking structure it is; the road slithers up the hill through high-walled passages and with each turn the Cathedral is revealed with another breathtaking view.

The real magic happens when you step through that wooden diddy door; the Abbaye Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Vézelay is vast and beautiful but this is on another level again. Towering vaulted ceilings flow down to meet ornate stained glass windows, each one more intricate and large as you walk around. The central area, which I guess going by the Abbey at Vézelay is called the Choir, is even higher; even more ornate. The main windows are circular plates of magnificent colour, depicting something…we never had a chance to really study them as Missy was making moves to every fragile thing available, whether it was rickety candle stands or the confessional booth, our eyes were mostly on her.

We made our way back into the blinding sunshine and up in the direction of the main drag. We found a lovely wee shop that sold what I can only describe as Americanisms; metal gas station signage, Coca-Cola stuff, retro serviette dispensers et al. They also sold some really lovely quirky bits and bobs. Missy found the sausage dog from Toy Story and had to have it, so I took her up to the till and lifted her up to hand over the money. The man smiled and made sure the dog was in the box and rang up the till. I thought it would be cute to lift her again to get the change back and in doing so managed to damage my back again. The unwelcome searing pain of my back giving in. It was brief but I knew immediately I had undone years worth of healing. I managed to hold it together and brought Miss back to earth smoothly, thanked the man for his time and left the shop rickety tick. Outside I mentioned to Mrs that I’d hurt my back but I didn’t let on how much. We carried on around Auxerre, up the main street and back down again – by this time Miss was fed up; it was really hot already and the streets were filled with market-goers, so we reasoned to head back to the car and head home via the E. Leclerc for some bread.

As we walked back to the car I could feel my back tightening and getting progressively more painful as I tried to take photographs and generally convince myself that it would be ok. We stopped at a small fountain area where Miss pottered in the water and I had a sit down. I knew then it was bad. The familiar shooting pain down both legs reminding me just how much I take pain-free sitting and standing for granted. We got to the car, sorted ourselves and headed to the shops where I thought my back was a little less sore, but we made quick work of the shops and got back home, where I kept quiet about the horrific pain I was in until we’d had our lunch and everyone had dispersed for afternoon naps or diddling around with Miss. I got myself upstairs and tried a few stretches but to no avail.

And so it is, 2 days later, I am still lying flat out and icing my back every 20 minutes. It’s getting better and I’m starting to feel a little less like my mobility is gone forever. But it’s going to be a bit of a struggle for the rest of the holiday, unless the inflammation dies completely and miracle of miracles I get my back strengthened again. I doubt it but if I can at least get out and about I will be happy. To spend the rest of this holiday lying down, sweating buckets and watching Netflix would be a travesty.