"A bit of Orient. . . ." Top 5 Page for this destination Le Puy-en-Velay by kokoryko

Le Puy-en-Velay Travel Guide: 61 reviews and 265 photos

A major stopover on the road to Santiago.

Le Puy is a major destination, resting place or departure location for pilgrims on their way to Santiago da Compostella. Some 400.000 tourists visit this city of southern Auvergne each year, of which 30.000-40.000 come on their feet or leave the city on their feet; they are pilgrims, (and may be few “normal” hikers or trekkers) walking on the “Via Podiensis”, the route to Santiago da Compostella beginning from Le Puy.
Not only is it the departure of a pilgrimage, it is also a pilgrim’s destination: thousands of pilgrims visit Le Puy for the “Vierge Noire” (The Black Virgin”), who is adored here since the High Middle Age; other local saints take advantage of this celebrity to also have lots of visitors. . . .

Not a surprise you find the atmosphere here a little bit (little bit is an euphemism. . . . ) catholic: there are cloisters, lots of churches, the streets are full of religious signs, and even most of the schools here are “écoles libres”, “free schools”, meaning in fact they are not bound to the laic French school system, since separation of State and church in France, and even integrist militants. . . . . If you want to meet deep Catholic France, it is here, in the Haute Loire Département (and in the Vendée Départment, Western France), the place to go! Lots of religious signs and activity, but not real pressure, be reassured. . . . Religion wars are over since 3 centuries, but it was an area where religion wars were terrible! There are a few protestants (Calvinist) communities in few villages, mainly in the North of Haute Loire (Chambon- sur-Lignon. . . ).

A quiet little city

Walking in this city nowadays is very pleasant, on the sloping (and slippery!) small cobblestone paved streets, looking at the churches, mansions, houses, people going to their business. . . . In summer are a few festivals which draw thousands if people from the area and from abroad: the best known is “la fête du Roi de l’Oiseau”, a street festival, with music, animations, fireworks, and opportunities to discover local food, some local folklore, local people dancing and singing. . . . A nice week indeed! In winter, it is very quiet, but cross country ski opportunities are not far, and plenty of wonderful hikes can be undertaken from here; many castles, museums in the city or not far (see my Auvergne pages) are worth visits.
I do not tell here about all religious celebrations. . … . .
And Notre Dame de France is always watching you. . . .

Lots of litle things. . . .

Here is the Fontaine des tables, one of the famous fountains in Le Puy, but there are lots of little things to discover in this city. Le Puy is a city where you do not get lost, it is quite small, but I like myself to feel like lost in the little streets, discovering a new building, a fountain a chapel, a perspective. . . . If you happen to travel in Auvergne, this place is not to miss, and even you may want to stay there for a few days. . .

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful capital of South Auvergne
  • Cons:A bit too. . . . Catholic ?
  • Last visit to Le Puy-en-Velay: Jul 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (24)

Comments (8)

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Apr 4, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Informative with decent photographs; thanks for sharing. Cheers, Ian

  • Elisabcn's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    I wanna go here! I wanna go here! Do you guess why? ;-) No hiking tips (?) but I enjoyed something more about the Romanesque Art in Auvergne. But I did not like the Pink Lady, she is very freaky.

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Aug 10, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    I guess you are right. There is a lot of Catholic influence in the area, and your pictures depict that. Nice job of describing the sites.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Dec 6, 2009 at 2:08 PM

    So the end of the world will be in 2016? Or did it already happen in the year 992 and we were just too busy to notice? Beautiful buildings and artwork, in any case! I think I would also make the side trip to Chavaniac. Glad you like my new jumping photo!

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Nov 15, 2009 at 2:06 PM

    The history, buildings, statues are all stunning and wonderful. Thanks for the history lesson about Jules Valles. In Baltimore they have a statue in honor of La Fayette. Thanks for your lovely page!

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2008 at 7:52 PM

    Le Puy-en-Velay is just the sort of place I would love to experience! What an amazing view over the city in your opening tips, with the city so 'at one' with its peaks. And, I have to agree with you regarding the 'Cloister of the cathedral' friezes!!

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Mar 5, 2008 at 3:07 PM

    I've really enjoyed returning to visit Le Puy through this fascinating, detailed and well-photographed page. Still mystified though, why the giant Madonna is painted pink! :))

  • robertgaz's Profile Photo
    Mar 2, 2008 at 3:18 PM

    I doubt that I will be testing St Michel with an 82m jump... except with a 'chute!

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