Overlooking the Arroux valley, Autun is a must in Burgundy. Born from the desire of Emperor Augustus, around 15 BC BC, it is located 30 km east of Mount Beuvray, at a strategic crossroads of transport : request a private car service from Paris airport to Autun.
History of Autun
Founded by Emperor Augustus
Called “Augustodunum” in Roman times, Autun was founded by Emperor Augustus at the end of the 1st century. The city replaced the colony of Bibracte as the capital of the Eduens, one of the most powerful tribes of Gaul. Emperor Augustus wanted to build a large city in Gaul to demonstrate the power of Rome. He built a number of monuments that can still be admired.
Christianized in the 2nd century, Autun was raised to the rank of bishopric in the 3rd century and prospered thanks to a series of illustrious bishops. Cardinal Rolin, son of the Chancellor of the Dukes of Burgundy, played an important role here. In 1830, the opening of coal mines in the region and the production of mineral oil for lighting enabled the city of Autun to resume its economic expansion.
Few words about the remarkable Saint-Lazare Cathedral
Autun was a powerful religious center of the Middle Ages. The remarkable Saint-Lazare Cathedral, built in 1120, is a Roman masterpiece. Built in a Cluniac style, the cathedral was entrusted to the bishop. Approaching Autun, one is struck by the elegance of the high belfry of the cathedral which stands out on the green hills of Morvan. He is famous for his tympanum created by the sculptor Gislebert and representing the last judgment.
The Rolin museum, located in the mansion of Nicolas Rolin, Chancellor of the Dukes of Burgundy, houses an extensive collection of works of art dating from prehistory to the twentieth century. The Roman mosaics and Gislebert sculptures of the 12th century are particularly striking. There is so much to tell when it comes to the history of the city, that’s why we offer tours guided by your driver guide.
It is a city known for its rich architectural heritage. Thanks to its long and rich history, Autun retains many monuments. From the Roman era remain the gates of the city of Saint-André and Arroux (Porte Saint-André and Porte d’Arroux), the Roman amphitheater, with a capacity of 20,000 people. The temple of Janus was a sanctuary of Celtic civilization. In addition to the historical monuments of the city, the large street market of Autun is one of the best in the region. Located in the central square of the Champs de Mars and in the covered market next to the town hall, the Autun market will allow you to taste :
- the cheeses,
- organic products,
- honey and many regional specialties of the Morvan.
Wide range of leisure and sports activities
There is also a wide range of leisure and sports activities in Autun. Hill, lakes, rivers, the natural riches of the region offer a multitude of sports and leisure activities. There is something for everyone :
- canoeing and kayaking on the lake,
- Plan du Vallon,
- 18-hole golf course,
- expedition on foot or by mountain bike in the Morvan Nature Park.
For a refreshing dip if it’s too hot during your stay, you can enjoy the newly renovated Autun swimming pool with its large outdoor pool. Fishermen are rarely disappointed by the catch they make in the Arroux River that surrounds the lower eastern part of the city.
You have a wide choice of accommodation and catering in Autun. Apart from the cottages, there are also campsites and vacation rentals. Call our service if you are looking for a ride. After visiting the cathedral, do not forget to stroll through the narrow streets of Autun, lined with many pretty half-timbered houses.
Located in the family home (fifteenth century) of Chancellor Nicolas Rolin, Duke of Burgundy, the museum contains collections divided into four sections. “Roman Archeology” presents the appearance and activities of the ancient city. “History of Medieval Art” and “Local History” provide visitors with documents evoking the past of Autun from the 15th to the 19th century. Finally, the “Fine Arts”, a room dedicated to the decorative arts, brings together French and European paintings from the 17th to the 20th century. The Rolin museum is now enriched by the donation of André and Monique Frénaud which includes 94 works by artists.
The Cascade de Brisecou is a small waterfall located in Couhard-Autun. It is a soothing walk place for couples who want to walk alone, for families with children who want a little place to relax, and so on. It is especially in the spring that it is possible to admire the beauty of the waterfall. The trees do not have enough foliage and the water is oozing! A historic place, calm and especially still favoring the natural floristic beauty.
Temple of Janus
On the other side of the Arroux River, north of Autun, are the substantial ruins of the Janus Temple. At an impressive height of 24 m (79 ft), it was part of the sanctuary of a Gaulish deity adapted to the Roman religion. The picturesque temple of Janus stands in a field of grass on the other side of the river, far from the city. The two remaining brick walls are part of the central area of the temple.
Roman Theater of Autun
Built around 70 AD and located east of the ancient city, the Roman Theater of Autun was used for dramatic performances. With 148 m in diameter, it is one of the largest theaters in the Roman world with its capacity to accommodate 20,000 spectators. Built on the natural slope of the land, the theater has a classic style with steps in three semi-circular rows separated by stairs. An imposing wall closes the theater behind the stage, with a height of around 30 m.
Nowadays, sound and light shows (in summer) have replaced the “games” that took place here under the Empire. This Roman theater is a masterpiece of ancient art. During Roman rule in Gaul, it was known by another name: Augustodunum. If necessary, we provide you with a car service always on time.
Request a private car service from Paris airport to Autun
Autun is backed by wooded hills. The city is 27 km from Parc des Combes and 72.5 km from Château de Cormatin. It is 334 km from Charles De Gaulle Airport and 402 km from Beauvais Airport.