10 largest cities in France




Sens is a town in Burgundy located north of the Yonne department. The city is dominated by one of the great French cathedrals. In the old center, inside the old walls, Sens retains many half-timbered houses as well as many 18th century mansions.

Tourist information
Sens and Sénonais tourist office, 6 rue du Général Leclerc (from the city center, walk along rue de la République then rue du Général Leclerc until the roundabout of the Demi-Lune), Logo indicating a number by phone +33 3 86 65 19 49, email: contact@tourisme-sens.com, from September to June: Mon - Sat: 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. (closed on Tuesday morning from December to March), July and August: Mon - Sat: 9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., May to October: Sun: 10:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. 30, for public holidays refer to Sunday schedules. - The tourist office has a documentation area on Sens and its surroundings and also includes a shop area. WiFi is available there.



Roman period
The city, named Agendicum in Roman times, has retained its plan with two main streets perpendicular to decumanus and cardo and part of its Roman wall. Agendicum is probably under the Roman Empire, the capital of Senonia, province of IV Lyonnaise.

The current name of the city comes from the Gallic tribe of Sénons, of which Brennus was the chief in the 4th century BC. There are remains of drains made by the Romans to raise water from a source, like an artesian well. These works were intended to supply an aqueduct.

In 53 BC BC, during the invasion of Gaul, Caesar wintered six legions, at a place called "Caesar's camp" south of the city.

Under the High Empire, buildings and various infrastructures were built to improve comfort. In the 2nd century, a sixteen-kilometer aqueduct fetched spring water from the Valley of the Vanne. Archaeological remains attest to the presence of an amphitheater, a forum and thermal baths. The thermal baths, and especially the facade, must have presented various sculptures.

In the Lower Empire, the city was protected by a wall, the materials of which were taken from buildings built during the Upper Empire. The fortifications covered a distance of three kilometers, partly based on the Yonne and were among the most imposing in Roman Gaul. The wall is based on large blocks of stone from public buildings or funerary monuments.

During the administrative reform of Diocletian, the city of Sens becomes the seat of the province of the fourth Lyonnaise. The future ecclesiastical province will continue within this framework inherited from the Empire. Like many Roman cities of Gaul (eg Lutetia), the city takes the name of the people of which it is the administrative and commercial center. The city will now be called Sens.

The Archdiocese of Sens
The origins of Christianity in Sens were the subject of fierce debates in the early twentieth century. It is true that in its known writing (very late), the life of Saint Savinien comes to be interpolated with that of Saint Colombe. She claims that this bishop was appointed directly by the apostles. But we can also notice that the term "apostole" means in Old French "pope", which can refer the designation to any Roman pope. On the other hand, we must credit the local Church of Saint Colombe. This Aragonese was baptized in the Rhône valley in Vienne and suffered martyrdom in Sens. His cult is celebrated in Visigothic collections from High Antiquity, which makes an imaginary cult impossible.

A Bishop Savinianus is mentioned in acts of a council from the beginning of the 4th century. We are now justified in assuming the existence of an ecclesiastical organization. But then we are at the end of Constantine's reign.

The diocese of Sens was founded around 240 by Saint Savinien. Its archbishops had an important place in the Church of France: in the ninth century, Pope John VIII gave the Archbishop of Sens the title of "Primate of Gaul and Germania" and until the seventeenth century, the Bishop of Paris depended on the Archbishop of Sens. As such, it had under its dependence Chartres, Auxerre, Meaux, Paris, Orléans, Nevers and Troyes. The ecclesiastical district was modeled on the civil district and the episcopal seat of Nevers when it was created at the end of the fifth century was also attached to Sens. These seven bishoprics made up an ecclesiastical province of exceptional importance reflected in the motto CAMPONT - acrostic of the initials of the seven seats - inscribed under the arms of the chapter of the cathedral of Sens. In 769, the archbishop of Sens, Villicaire, was at the head of the Frankish episcopal mission which attended the Council in Rome in charge of judging the intruding pontiff Constantine II, with the title of archbishop of the Gauls.

In the 7th century, the Pope was forced by events to take organizational action. He cannot communicate with the episcopate of Gaul. The Mediterranean is completely made inaccessible by the Muslim fleet from North Africa. The Muslims of Spain are themselves present in Narbonne. The devastation extends to the interior of Provence. Traffic can only be done through the Alps, and only in fine weather. The Lombards show little understanding. Forced, the Pope made the Archbishop of Sens his permanent legate for the beyond of the Alps, with the exception of Brittany (that is to say Great Britain). The Merovingian rulers are satisfied with this measure. Dagobert, in poor health, limits his travel around Paris. At the change of dynasty, nothing changes. The authority of the archbishop expands to the space controlled by the Carolingians.


At the beginning of the 12th century, commercial traffic became intense across the Alps (Champagne fairs). The function of permanent legate ceases to be of great utility. The bishop of Lyon (who tried to steal the archiepiscopal title from his metropolitan of Vienne), obtained from the pope the "recognition" of a primate authority in France. The reaction of King Louis VI will be energetic and of rare violence. The King refuses that his clergy come under the control of a bishop operating from a foreign land (the county of Lyon is in Empire). He sees in it a rupture of the multi-secular alliance of the kings of France with the papacy. The Pope steps back.

A new questioning dates from the reign of Francis I. King Louis XI had already encouraged the fairs of Lyon to the extreme, allowing the city to develop as late as it was spectacular. The Archbishop of Lyon (the conflict with Vienna is not yet over), supported by the rich bourgeoisie of his city, easily convinces François, desperately in search of money, of his cause. Aged, the Archbishop of Sens does not react. The Parliament of Paris provides a brilliant defense. The King makes him fold. In compensation, Parliament grants the title of Primate of Gaul and Germania to the Archbishop of Sens; the archbishop of Lyon will only be the primate of Gaul.

Middle Ages
Merovingian and Carolingian ages
At the end of the 4th century, Sens was the capital of the Quatrième Lyonnaise. This civil district serves as a framework for the Church for the foundation of the archdiocese of Sens. Its motto is Campont, after the initials of the bishoprics of: Chartres, Auxerre, Meaux, Paris, Orléans, Nevers and Troyes. The Hôtel de Sens is their official residence in Paris. The archiepiscopal throne of the archbishop dominated in Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral the episcopal throne of the bishop of Paris. In 622, the ecclesiastical province of Sens was divided into two, Chartres, Meaux, and Orléans became suffragants of the new archbishopric: Paris.

In 732, the Saracens landed in the Camargue went up the entire Rhône valley and plundered the town of Sens. This operation is seen as an attempt of diversion, in order to divide the Frankish forces to face, the year of the battle of Poitiers.

The first Capetians
In the Middle Ages, the city retained an important role from an ecclesiastical point of view. Several archbishops carry out royal coronations before it was reserved for the Archbishop of Reims. Its archbishops will subsequently bear the title of "primates of Gaul and Germany".

In 1015, the county of Sénonais was attached for the first time to the Crown and then definitively in 1055 on the death of the last count Renard le Mauvais. It was temporarily held by the Count of Blois from 1030 to 1032. The King managed his new possession through a viscount (based in Vallery) and a provost. The King has a palace (the current tribunal de grande instance), stables, a round tower and a square keep, gardens, an enclosure. But he only comes there once every three years, then very rarely once Philippe Auguste has set out to conquer the West.

The reunification of Bas-Gâtinais in 1080 made it possible to break the isolation of the royal domain of Senones, now capable of communicating with Orléans and Melun.

In 1120, Louis VI authorized Étienne, provost of the church of Sens, to fortify the cloister (doors, walls, moat).

In 1135, the city chose to rebuild its cathedral in an innovative style. It is the first Gothic cathedral in France. His style is characteristic of this period of transition. At the same time, the city briefly benefited from municipal institutions, which were withdrawn by Louis VI.

In 1147, the city revolted against the seigneurial tutelage.

In 1163, under Louis VII, for nearly three years, Pope Alexander III exiled by Frédéric Barberousse settled with the Curia in Sens. The city receives the archbishops of Canterbury Thomas Becket and Edmond (saint Edme). Alexander III placed the leper colony of Sens under his protection, which experienced significant development following numerous donations.


In 1189-1190, the city obtained a Charter of franking. The king of France Philippe Auguste (nephew of Guillaume de Champagne) allows Sens to have all the independence then possible by allowing it to have a mayor (who exercises justice with the peers over the king's men) and jurors and grants it a charter which places the city under its exclusive authority.

In 1194, a royal bailiff was located in Sens. It is the first of the royal domain to be thus located whereas the institution is known since 1184. The bailiwick of Sens includes in medieval times Melun, Nemours, Courtenay, Auxerre, Donziois, Puisaye, Tonnerrois, the region from Langres to the Saône, important elements of the Barrois Mouvant, the North-West of Troy, scattered elements near Châlons-en-Champagne. The subsequent creation of royal bailiwicks in Mâcon, Saint-Pierre-le-Moûtier, then the incorporation of Champagne into the royal domain, limited the action of one of the most important territorial officials of the Crown. Sens supplied the oldest lieutenant general of the French royal bailiwick, and was the first to work on shaping the oldest bailiwick customs. The tribunal not only provides work for magistrates, but also for hundreds of sergeants scattered in this vast jurisdiction. He greatly contributed to limiting the judicial ambitions of the feudal courts of Champagne, Burgundy, Nivernais, Auxerrois, Gâtinais and French Brie.

The city has sixteen parishes: Sainte-Croix (in the cathedral), Sainte-Colombe-du-Carrouge, Saint-Pierre-le-Rond, Saint-Maximin, Saint-Maurice, Saint-Benoît, Saint-Romain, Saint -Hilaire, Saint-Didier, Saint-Pierre-le-Donjon, Saint-Hilaire and outside the walls La Madeleine, Saint-Didier, Saint-Savinien, Saint-Pregts and Saint-Symphorien.

The Jacobins settled in Sens between 1225 and 1231.

On May 27, 1234, Archbishop Gauthier le Cornu organized and celebrated the royal wedding between Saint Louis and Marguerite de Provence at the cathedral of Sens where many personalities were invited. On May 28, 1234, Marguerite de Provence was crowned Queen of France.

The hundred years war
The bailiff of Sens puts the city in defense against the Anglo-Navarrese bands. He proceeds to the destruction of all the buildings approaching the fortifications (including the Petit Hôtel-Dieu of Garnier Despres where there is a treasure intended to rebuild it in the event of destruction!). The city loses its cloth industry embodied by the Chacerat family, considered to be the richest merchants existing between Paris (the largest city in Europe) and Avignon (seat of the papacy). The city provides the regent Charles V with the calm allowing him to resume the offensive against Étienne Marcel.

Until the loss of power by Queen Isabeau of Bavaria, the patricians of Sens enjoyed a quite considerable position within the central state apparatus. They largely contributed to developing it from the reigns of the sons of Philippe le Bel. The families of Dicy, Dallement, Col, Chanteprime, Quatremares, Bragelongne populate the Treasury, the Aides, the Parliament, the Royal Notariat, the Requests in incredible proportions.

During the second phase of the Hundred Years' War, the city was administered by the bailiff Guillaume de Chaumont until 1420. He was forced to leave the square in front of the military caravan made up of the King of England, the Duke of Burgundy and of Queen Isabeau of Bavaria, returning from Troyes and reaching Paris. He himself joined Orléans where he welcomed Joan of Arc who crossed Sens in 1429.

The city opened its doors to Charles VII only by following the example of the city of Troyes. But Provins, Montargis and Auxerre keep their rallying isolated. The countryside is liberated but ruined by Arnault-Guilhem de Barbazan, “knight without fear and without reproach” buried in Saint-Denis. The latent struggle after the Treaty of Arras certainly involved the provost of Villeneuve-le-Roi, but also the bailiwick of Sens, the backbone of royal legal harassment until 1477. Bailiffs were eminent figures of the State, sometimes even favorites of the King (Charles de Melun). Several of the grievances of the Duke of Burgundy put forward during the interview with Péronne concern the companies of the Bailiff of Sens.

In June 1474, the city was granted by King Louis XI the authorization to have a mayor and a municipal council. Louis XI begins the rebalancing of the judicial jurisdiction by withdrawing from the bailiwick of Sens the Auxerrois, the Donziois and the Puisaye. The resistance persisted until under François I.


The bailiwick of Sens obtains a presidial seat. Its jurisdiction includes, in addition to Sénonais, eastern Gâtinais, Tonnerrois, the country of Langres and enclaves in Champagne. It supports around 150 lawyers and prosecutors in the city alone. During the civil wars, the country of Langres is judicially emancipated.

Under François I, the Crown finally granted the Archbishop of Lyon (who had himself freed himself from the Archbishop of Vienne) the title of Primate of France. The Parliament of Paris resisted for a while. He finally bowed to this royal innovation interested in the financial capacities of the Lyonnais. In compensation, Parliament gives the Archbishop of Sens the title of “Primate of Gaul and Germania” to remind everyone of the preeminence of the Archbishop of Sens dating from the end of the 7th century, when he was systematically appointed permanent legate. of the Pope for the Frankish kingdoms. The title is preserved today.

During the Wars of Religion, Sens was particularly agitated. Charles IX began his royal tour of France (1564-1566) there in March, accompanied by the Court and the Great of the kingdom: his brother the Duke of Anjou, Henri de Navarre, the cardinals of Bourbon and Lorraine. The inhabitants repel the assaults of the Prince of Condé and Henri de Navarre who is almost killed by the sabotiers during an assault.

Modern era
Under the reign of Louis XIII, the diocese of Paris was erected into an archdiocese by the dismemberment of that of Sens. The metropolitan officiality loses knowledge of appeals from the province formed for nearly a millennium by Chartres, Auxerre, Meaux, Paris, Orléans, Nevers and Troyes. The major seminary of Sens was opened in 1651. Cyrano de Bergerac's paternal grandfather is from Sens.

The episcopal city gathers about nine thousand inhabitants. It is conveniently linked to Paris by the coche d'eau and is located on the post route from Paris to Dijon. At the tannery, it joined before 1789 large textile factories and a pottery. But the local economy only serves the surrounding countryside. On the other hand, the local clergy shines with all their fires. Canon Fenel creates a library open to the public. The Tarbé publishes a newspaper (Affiches Sénonaises) which is a prototype for the province. Marivaux marries the daughter of a notary from Sens. The archbishops end up opting for the anti-Jansenist government attitude, which will seriously upset the bourgeoisie. The minor seminary was opened in 1747.

Died of tuberculosis shortly before Christmas 1765, the Dauphin Louis was buried in the cathedral. Dauphine Marie-Josèphe, who had contracted her husband's illness while treating him, joined her there a few months later. Their tomb was desecrated in 1794 but their remains, thrown into the mass grave, were returned to their tomb in 1814 on the orders of their son Louis XVIII.

In 1789, the city failed to complete its plans for a department including Provins and Montargis. It becomes a sub-prefecture. She obtained a high school thanks to the interpersonal skills of Fauvelet de Bourienne, former private secretary of Napoleon Bonaparte. Under the Restoration, the archiepiscopal seat was reestablished, so as to honor the confessor of the Dauphine. The local tannery took advantage of a quarter of a century of war to rise to the second national rank. But overall, the city is not growing.

Following the success of the first festival singing orphéons, organized by Charles Delaporte in Troyes in 1849, the second took place in Sens the same year. These are the beginnings of a series of gatherings which will bring together thousands of choristers in many cities.

Contemporary period
In 1914, the city welcomed the French staff at the launch of the Battle of the Marne.


In 1940, the Germans entered France on May 15 and their air force bombed Sens station on June 7. The department was invaded on June 14 and 15, 1940 by German troops from Troyes and was subjected to numerous bombardments. The exodus of populations on the roads of France begins. The first German motorcycles arrive in Sens on June 15 at the end of the morning and troops with armored vehicles line up at 2 p.m. on the promenade. The surroundings of the station and the Saint-Maurice church (whose stained-glass windows are destroyed) were bombed during the night, then buildings on the main street and others, the gas factory, while the cathedral and the synodal palace are damaged. Fighting takes place until June 16. On June 17, more than three thousand French prisoners coming from Montargis were parked in the Place Saint-Étienne and in the market hall. Others arrive in the following days. Archbishop Mgr Lamy tries to set up an emergency aid committee, while all the authorities have fled. The Kommandantur installed in Place Drapès sets up a curfew from June 20 and a list of voluntary hostages (including the mayor and the archbishop) in the event of non-compliance with the instructions. After the armistice, Sens found itself in occupied territory. On July 12, 1942, the prefect of Yonne ordered the arrest of 14 foreign Jews (originating from the former Russian Empire and Poland) who remained in Sens (42 were arrested throughout the department).

In 1944, Sens, abandoned by most of its German occupants38, was crossed on Monday August 21 at the beginning of the afternoon by troops of General Patton's Third Army who left it the next day at dawn in the direction of the 'is.

In the 1960s, the city was at the head of the suburban network of the (Paris) Lyon station. A considerable number of inhabitants take the train every day to work in Paris and return in the evening.

After having closed the major seminary of Sens, Archbishop Stourm moved to Auxerre, the city where the prefect sits.

The city is skillfully positioned on the road network (A6, A5 motorways, and connecting bar), and recently on the waterway upstream of Paris (port of Gron). It thus plays on two thousand year old assets.


Getting here

By train
The Burgundy TER lines no 12 Paris (Paris-Bercy station) - Dijon (Dijon-Ville station) and no 15 Paris (Paris-Bercy station) - Auxerre stop at Sens station.

Sens station, place François Mitterrand - Accessible, without assistance, to people with reduced mobility Presence of at least one lift Ticket office. Shops and distributor of drinks and sweets. Parking area (two places for PRM).

By car
A5 motorway
interchange between A5 and A19 (E511)

A19 motorway
exit 1 Pont s / Yonne - towns served: Sens, Provin
exit 2 Paron St Valérien