Auxerre and its famous people
Born in 1868 in Villiers sur Tholon, he founded the AJA in 1905, hence why the famous football stadium is named after him. The Auxerre football team (A.J Auxerre) plays here regularly.
Born in Auxerre in 1833. After studying medicine, he specialised in zoology and physiology and became a member of the French Academy of Sciences in 1882. Alongside his scientific career, he entered political life in 1870. Elected as MP for the Yonne département from 1872 to 1885, he was Minister of Public Instruction in the Gambetta's ministry known as "Le Grand Ministère" and played a key role in drafting the main school laws (secularism, free of charge, creation of the Écoles Normales), while putting up a fierce fight against religious education.
In favour of the colonial policy of Jules Ferry, in 1886, he was appointed Resident General in Annam and Tonkin, where he died a few months later. A national contribution enabled a statue to be erected in his honour that you can see on Paul Bert bridge, dominating the magnificent panoramic view of the town.
Born in 1925, he created the multicoloured wood sculptures in the Visitandines Chapel, that you can visit in the summer, including the famous "Massacre des Innocents".
His signature can also be found in the streets of Auxerre with the statues of Cadet Roussel, Marie Noël and Restif de la Bretonne.
These sculptures belong to Auxerre by endowment.
Although his real name was Guillaume Joseph Roussel, he was nicknamed Cadet as he was the youngest member of his family. Born in 1743 in the Doubs, he moved to Auxerre in 1763, firstly as a servant and footman and then as a bailiff's clerk. He then bought an office and set up as an independent bailiff. This role and his many excentricities made his name among the population.
During the French Revolution, he became a Jacobite. One of his political enemies, the knight Chenu de Souchet, composed a famous song to make fun of him. This song was adopted as the marching song for soldiers during the Revolution in 1792 and so spread throughout France, just like the song "la Marseillaise", although it wasn't about the war at all !
Born in 1768 in Auxerre, Joseph Fourier remains nowadays a mathematician and a physician known for his numerous equations and discoveries in Mathematics. Mathematics professor in Auxerre then in the School “Polytechnique” in Paris (1795), he took part in the expedition in Egypt in 1799. He was named prefect of Isère region from 1802 to 1815 (building of the Lautaret pass). Humanity benefactor and Republican, a lot of technological applications (MRI for example) were made thanks to his studies. His science works (algebra, analysis, physics) made him elected to the Science Academy then in the French Academy.
Joan of Arc came through Auxerre on two occasions. The first time was on 27 February 1429: setting off from Vaucouleurs to go to Chinon, she stopped off in Auxerre to hear the mass at Saint-Etienne Cathedral and to pray. The second time was on 1 July 1429: the Auxerre residents refused to open up the town to King Charles VII and Joan of Arc who were walking to Reims. They only agreed to offer supplies in exchange for money.
They had negotiated with the lord of Trimouille, in return for a sum of money, so as to remain neutral in the conflict between the King, the Burgundians and the English. Evidence of her visits are visible in the Cathedral: a commemorative plaque of her first visit can be seen on the wall of the presbytery, put up in 1929, a statue of her, carved by Pierre Vigoureux in 1920, and a stained glass window by the master glass artist from Paris, Edouard Socard, in 1914, representing the Maid at the head of her army in front of the fortifications of Orléans.
Born in Auxerre in 1883, Marie-Noël was one of the greatest 20th century poets, admired by Valéry, Montherlant and Aragon. She praised Auxerre in her poetry collections and prose. Her poetry, tormented or joyful by turns, was inspired by daily life or expressed the battle with doubt and faith.
The French quotation meaning "I would have liked to have been a running hare but have been attached my whole rotten life" can be read on the plinth of the statue erected in her honour by François Brochet, near the Clock Tower. In 1960, General de Gaulle awarded her the Officer's Cross of the Legion of Honour. She was also Commander of Arts and Literature. She died in Auxerre in 1967 and bequeathed all of her literary work to the Société des Sciences Historiques et Naturelles de l’Yonne in Auxerre.
Restif de la Bretonne
Born in 1734 in Sacy in the Avallonnais, he became an apprentice to an Auxerre printer before working in Angers, Dijon and finally the Imprimerie Royale. He started to write in 1767 and from then on, his work flowed: Lucile, Le Pied de Fauchette, le Paysan Perverti, Monsieur Nicolas…
He printed his books himself from 1791. Imagination, sensuality and verve mingle in everything he described of the people where he mainly lived: villagers, workers, people of modest means, the lower middle class. He nonetheless kept company with Beaumarchais, the Countess of Beauharnais, Madame de Staël. He was ruined by the French Revolution and forced to sell his printer's shop to become a proofreader before the Convention, and then Napoleon, paid him a small pension until his death. His multicoloured stone statue was carved by François Brochet in 1995 and stands in rue de l’Horloge among the pedestrianised streets of Auxerre.