The Yonne: Montereau-Fault-Yonne to Sens

Wanderlust inside one of the slope-sided locks on the River Yonne

Wanderlust inside one of the slope-sided locks on the River Yonne

By the time we reached the River Yonne, we were moving deliberately. True, the old towns along the Yonne, the last river of our journey to Auxerre, are particularly interesting. But beyond the appeal of the history of the region there was another reason for moving slow. Somewhere past Montereau I developed a nasty case of food poisoning, possibly self-inflicted. It took three days before I could eat again and a couple of weeks to feel “normal”. Consequently, for the first few days on the Yonne, I mostly just the saw the inside of the boat. At least Gigi and Becky could explore the area.

No matter the personal discomfort, we still needed to move. Ahead of us locks on the Yonne would soon be closing for repairs. If we didn’t get upstream of the closures Wanderlust would be trapped on the lower Yonne for months unable to reach her winter mooring before our scheduled departure from France. No matter what my body said, we had to go on. But at least I was able to stay at home while traveling. There are advantages to touring on a barge.

A church sits on the river in Sens.

A church sits on the river in Sens.

After a recovery layover in Pont-sur-Yonne we made it to Sens. Sens, like many towns along the Yonne, is fascinating. And now with the hostile microorganisms occupying my GI tract in slow retreat, I felt good enough to venture off the boat.

Sens has a deep and complex history. Humans have lived on this bend of the river for millenniums. The commune was once the capitol of the power Senones, a powerful Gallic tribe. Later, in the first century BC, Sens became an important Roman settlement. Even today Sens retains the backbone of its Roman street plan.

The covered market in Sens

The covered market in Sens

After the departure of the Romans, Sens became an important religious center with five abbeys. At the peak of its influence, the Archdiocese of Sens commanded the dioceses of Chartres, Auxerre, Meaux, Paris, Orléans, Nevers and Troyes. With the rise of Sens as an ecclesiastical hub came the construction of one the first French Gothic cathedrals, the Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Sens. Sens’ cathedral is the largest of the earlier Gothic churches; the structure influenced numerous Gothic cathedrals built later. Today the cathedral in Sens remains as the town’s premier attraction.

The heyday of Sens came to an end in 1622 when Paris was elevated to archdiocese. Nearly 400 years later, Sens remains as an intriguing destination cut off from the main tourist loops. It is a place that should be more popular with non-European visitors than it is.

The town hall in Sens

The town hall in Sens

For river travelers, Sens is a convenient town. In the center there are numerous restaurants and a covered market with the usual range of French culinary pleasures. We moored in Sens as long as we could, leaving just before the next lock on our route closed for repairs. As much as we liked Sens, we could not spend the winter there.

Wanderlust moored in Sens.

Wanderlust moored in Sens.


The segment covers 42 km with 8 locks.



We moored on the convenient pontoon on the left bank. There is no water or power available.



The famous cathedral in Sens


The quay on the right bank below the bridge is available for mooring. Mooring here is free; there is a 6 amp electrical plug nearby.   A water tap is in the area but our hoses were not long enough to reach it.

One word of warning: The quay is on the outside bend of the river. Debris, particularly after rains, tends to collect near the bow of the boats moored at the quay. Be careful about using your bow thrusters when you leave the mooring!

Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Sens

Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Sens


4 thoughts on “The Yonne: Montereau-Fault-Yonne to Sens

  1. Pingback: The Yonne: Sens to Migennes | Wanderlust

  2. Pingback: The 2016 Season | Wanderlust

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.