The capital of Haute-Loire, the town of Le Puy-en-Velay is located in the south-east of the Massif Central. As the starting point of the famous Via Podiensis, one of the routes to Santiago de Compostela, since the Middle Ages, the Auvergne town is a major pilgrimage site, with its cathedral and Hôtel-Dieu listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Built at the foot of the Corneille Rock, an imposing volcanic peak towering over the historic centre, the Cathedral of Our Lady (Notre-Dame) is a remarkable example of the Romanesque style with Carolingian, Byzantine and Moorish influences. This magnificent 11th and 12th-century building is reached via picturesque sloping streets starting from the lower part of town and a long flight of 134 steps. When you arrive, be sure to take a look at its majestic polychrome façade decorated with mosaics and the ancient fresco on its western porch, before admiring the superb Romanesque cloister with polychrome arches and sculpted capitals, as well as the beautiful pieces in the treasure collection located in the former Hall of the States of Velay. Above the high altar is the famous 17th-century Black Madonna of Le Puy, which is processioned through the streets of the old town on 15 August every year.
Perched at the top of the Corneille Rock, the statue of Our Lady of France, a cast iron work created by the sculptor Bonnassieux in the 19th century using cast iron from the cannons of the Battle for Sevastopol, offers a splendid view of the city's red roofs from its platform!
Le Puy-en-Velay is also famous for its bobbin lace, which according to the legend was invented there. Visitors can learn about it at the Crozatier Museum, located at the bottom of the pleasant Henri Vinay Garden, which boasts a variety of plants. The museum's galleries also house collections dedicated to archaeology, fine arts, palaeontology, ethnology, natural sciences and mechanics.
To complete your knowledge of the lace-makers' art, do not miss a chance to visit the Bobbin Lace Education Centre (Centre d'Enseignement de la Dentelle au Fuseau), which offers courses and workshops: this ancestral skill will be explained to you in detail, from the equipment used to the different stitches and motifs. Its exhibition rooms reveal magnificent collections of old and contemporary lace from various periods and countries.
Located south of the Massif Central, in the department of Haute-Loire, Le Puy-en-Velay is the former capital of the Velay. The city takes place seventy-five kilometers from Saint-Etienne, at more than 600 meters altitude.
Classified as a city of art and history, the commune of Puy-en-Velay enjoys an exceptional architectural and natural setting. Formerly called Anicum, it was for a long time the stronghold of the Romans, before developing a strong Christian present through the worship of the Virgin. As early as the 9th century, it became Le Puy Notre-Dame, quickly becoming a pilgrimage site. The city is also known as a place of departure for the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. In addition to religion, the city developed a strong literary and academic influence in the Middle Ages.
Le Puy-en-Velay has always been known for its lentils, verbena, as well as for the manufacture of its lace of world-wide renown.
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-l'Annonciation, one of the most visited sites in the Puy-en-Provence region, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the Santiago de Compostela Trail and classified as a Historic Monument. -Velay. Important monument of the Romanesque style, it dates from the end of the eleventh century. The building stands at the foot of the Corneille rock, and has been strongly influenced by Byzantine architecture at the time of its construction. It presents an unusual mixture of architectural styles that make all its charm. Outside, one can not miss the porch at the end of the 12th century, which although seemingly Romanesque, reveals a vault on ribs, as well as Gothic windows. Restored in the mid-19th century, the 12th century cloisters evoke Spanish Arabic architecture with its red, ocher and white polychrome mosaic. In the cathedral you can admire an important collection of works of art such as the 17th century reliquary of the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, which houses the contemporary copy of the Madonna and Child, the Byzantine and Italian frescoes Porch and in the north transept, or the statue of Saint James. But the cathedral is best known for hosting a Black Madonna, the object of an important pilgrimage of devoted Christians. The present statue is a copy of that offered by Louis IX of France on the return of the Seventh Crusade and destroyed at the time of the French Revolution. Settled in the mid-nineteenth century, she was taken in procession to the city every August 15th, for the Assumption.
At the top of the Corneille rock, above the cathedral, you can see the statue of Notre-Dame de France. Painted in red, the latter measures more than sixteen meters in height and was erected in 1860 with the melting of the guns taken during the Battle of Sevastopol. From the platform of the rock, one enjoys an impregnable view on the red roofs of the city. Renovated at the end of 2012, the statue was inscribed in the Historic Monuments.
Other religious buildings are visible in the Puy-en-Velay, like the church of Saint-Laurent which houses the bowels of the constable Bertrand Du Guesclin, Saint-Georges church, Saint-Pierre- Des-Carmes or the Saint-Georges chapel of the Grand Séminaire.
Also present in the cathedral district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Hôtel-Dieu still stands proudly after ten centuries of hospitality and hospitality. The building and its pharmacy have been recently renovated.
The city, which has preserved its colors and its typical architecture, also allows to discover the time of a walk, the theater in the Italian of the XIXth and inscribed with the Historical Monuments, or even the town hall of the eighteenth also inscribed.
The fountains and squares are numerous in the city, and you will not fail to go to the Place du Plot to see the fountain of the Bedoyre of the thirteenth century and rebuilt in the eighteenth. The fountain of the Angel of the XIVth century and classified to the Historic Monuments or that of Crozatier, of the XIXth and inscribed, deserve also that lingers.
To discover the works of the sculptor Charles Crozatier, child of the country, direction Henri-Vinay garden. You can discover the museum dedicated to the artist inaugurated in the middle of the 19th century and which also unveils collections of natural sciences, geology, mechanics or lace to retrace the history of the Velay and the Haute-Loire.
The weekly market of Puy-en-Velay is held on Saturday morning. A Christmas market is also offered in December.
At the end of March or at the beginning of April, the International Court but Bon Festival highlights the short animated film.
During a week in July, the city hosts the Musicales highlighting music and Latin dances.
International Folklore Festival, Interfolk offers performances by artists from five continents at the end of July.
At the end of July, the Basaltic Nights present a festival of dances and local traditional music.
Each year on August 15, the Black Madonna of the Cathedral is the subject of a major pilgrimage. For the occasion, a procession is organized in the city.
In various religious sites of Puy-en-Velay, it is possible to attend concerts at the end of August, during the music festival of La Chaise-Dieu.
Every third week of September, the town offers the King of the Bird festivities. These great Renaissance festivals originate from an ancient tradition where the winner of a bird shooting became king of the city for a year. For the occasion, costumed parades are organized, and various animations plunge the inhabitants during the Renaissance.
La Vogue, a fun fair in Puy-en-Velay, is held for a whole month between mid-October and mid-November.