If you are like me, and enjoy walking the old town's, then when here, head to the Tourist Information centre.
They have maps of the Town that will take you past all the important sight's.
There is a "standard tour" of 2 hours
"The grand tour" of 3 hours
"night tour" of 2 hours.
The street's are narrow and cobbled, and the homes, the religious site's, and the arches are all interesting!
The Tourist Information centre is located at.............
2 place du Clauzel
43000 LE PUY-EN-VELAY
Tel : +33 4 71 09 38 41
Fax : +33 4 71 05 22 62
From Easter until 30 September: open every day from 8.30am to 12 noon and 1.30 to 6.15 pm.
July and August: all day from 8.30 am to 7.30 pm.
From 1 October until Easter: open from Monday to Saturday inclusive, 8.30 am to 12 noon and 1.30 to 6.15 pm.
Sundays and public holidays from 10 am to 12 noon.
Walking here is quite strenuous, as the main sight's are located on the volcanic peaks, so this means an uphill walk, and then, maybe a spiral staircase to the top."
Dates of construction of the cathedral differ from the 10th to the 12th centuries, as it doesn't seem to be noted much anywhere. Although give or take a couple of hundred years doesn't reall matter. It is generally recognised that there has been some form of chapel, pagan or otherwise on this hill since around 430 AD. Given the amount of room on top of the hill it was quite small, but due to the number of visiting pilgrims it has been expanded largely. This is why the central staircase arrives directly into the church. This is also the staircase where the pilgrims of yester- and today descend on their way to St. Jacques de Compostelle and all points between. Quite a point of view towards the southwest with its ridges and hills barring the panorama, over which they all will trudge.
Apart from its obvious Oriental based architecture, points of interest lie inside : "La Vierge Noire" or the Black Virgin sits above the main altar. Apparently one existed here in the 10th c but had disappeared by the time Louis IX came to visit in 1254 and offered anew statue to the cathedral. This one was removed and burnt during the Revolution in 1794. Today, on the 15th August a procession of the statue through the streets of Le Puy takes place every year, where the statue of the Virgin Mary is presented to the fervent faithful. This statue dates from 1856.
Also to be seen is the large stone just to the left of the altar in a small chapel and called the "Pierre des Fievres" and is reputed to be the table or coverstone of an ancient dolmen. Also reputed to have healing powers and legend tells us that this is why the cathedral is actually built on this site. The stone can be seen in the same chapel as a XVth c pieta.
Statues here include those of St Louis (Louis IX), Joan of Arc and the inevitable St James (St Jacques).
Coming from Clermont-Ferrand, we noticed a pull-off named Du Puy - Polignac.
We pulled off to see what was there, and saw a great view of the Le Chateau de Polignac.
Built in between 1385 & 1421, this Chateau was the birthplace of the largest family of Velay.
It's located on cliffs 100 m high, making it a fairly impregnable fortress.
On the ground floor of the castle, the mask of Apollo, the remains of a Roman temple, is exposed.
The tall building I was viewing was the rectangular Keep.
If you visit the Castle, you need to climb 141 steps for entry.
I walked right to the top, and into the statue of St. Joseph.
The Statue was approved by Pope Pius X in August of 1908, and was made by Parisian sculptor Debert, and dedicated on April 11, 1910.
It's 48 feet high, St. Joseph’s head is just under 8 ft., while his right arm is over 16 ft.
St. Joseph’s gaze is directed toward Our Lady of France, another colossal statue it faces in Le Puy. His left arm holds Jesus, while his right arm and hand point to Heaven.
Inside this massive statue, is another statue of St. Joseph.
The views from the top are fantastic. I could see way across to the other religious monument's in Le Puy en Velay.
Another site was the cave/grotto chapel, this was really beautiful and a must visit.
Be ready for plenty of climbing, it's worth it to see the Church and the wonderful view's.
Driving around Le Puy en Velay, we were amazed at how many huge religious statue's we saw sitting on volcanic plug's.
We weren't sure how to reach St. Joseph, no worries though, all we had to do was keep the Statue in sight!
We found a park, and then I did the same, weaving my way through narrow lane-ways until I reached the entrance.
This huge statue of St. Joseph and Child is in Espaly Saint Marcel (a few miles from Le Puy where the Sisters of St. Joseph were founded in 1650).
OPEN.....8 - 5PM
This unusual looking Tower certainly grabbed our attention!
In the 14th century, this Tower was the former entrance to the "Royal" Town. It was partly demolished in 1850, to make the road wider. You can still see what its actual size was, as it is marked in the pavement.
After we had viewed the Chapel of St. Clair, we then went for a walk around the outside. This area looks quite Old!
There is a small square where there is the old town hall, the monumental stone cross of the 15th century, and a pseudo-Gothic Fountain from the 19th century. There was a nice old house and views of St. Michael, I felt like I had stepped back in time!
The Chapel of Saint -Clair we came across as we entered the old part of Le-Puy.
The Chapel was a small, octagonal building from the 12th century. It is thought the Chapel, which is often known as "The Temple of Diana," may have been the former Chapel of the "Hospital of the Poor."
Inside,The Lintel, shows the phase's of the Moon and Sun. As you could imagine, the inside was small, and fairly bare.
The building's around in Le Puy, are built in a stunning byzantine romanesque style, where the brick's of dark grey and white are layered in a pattern, this Chapel has arcade's, with a background of diamond white mosaic's.
One of the most visited site's in the Cathedral, is the statue of the Black Virgin. This not the original from 1000 AD, thought to be carved by an Arab craftsman.
In 1794, the wooden image was publicly burned on the Place du Martouret. As the statue burned away, a secret door in its back was revealed, the door opened, and a roll of parchment fell out, unfortunately, no attempt was made to read the parchment before it was consumed by the flames.
The Statue I saw, came from the Chapel of Saint-Maurice at the Monastery of Visitation in 1844, and was crowned in the name of Pope Pius IX, in June 1856.
Now, Marian processioins are held on August 15th each year. On the Feast of Assumptiion, 1000's gather in the street's to pray and accompany the statue, which is surrounded by Bishop's.
This lovely Cathedral that was built in the 11th & 12th centuries, is built in the shape of a Latin Cross. The Cathedral is perched on a volcanic rock named either " Mount Anis or Corneille Rock " and overlook's the city of Le Puy-en-Velay.
THE LEGEND OF THIS CATHEDRAL IS..........
"In the 8th century, a woman suffering from a fever was inspired by a vision, to visit the rock on which the cathedral now stands. There she fell into a feverish sleep. When she awoke, her fever had gone and she saw the Virgin Mary seated on a dolmen next to her. The Virgin said she wanted a church to built in that place. Although it was July, several inches of snow covered the ground and a stag marked out the floor plan of a huge church with his hooves.
St. George was Bishop of Le Puy and he came to see the miracle for himself. He wished to obey the Virgin's request, but he had no money for such a grand church. So he made do with planting a thorn hedge over the ground plan until such funding could be found. The next day, the hedge bloomed with flowers.
Some time passed, and another healing occurred. The bishop (now a man named Vozy) therefore went to Rome to ask for permission to build a cathedral on the site. It was granted, and the Pope provided a Roman architect to build it. When it was completed, the bishop set out for Rome again to arrange its consecration, but two old men appeared to him on the way and said, "we shall go before you and take charge of all." Returning to the cathedral, the Vozy found it bathed in strange light, its bells ringing by unseen hands."
Since the Middle Ages, Le Puy Cathedral has been the main starting point in France for the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
To accommodate increasing numbers of pilgrims, the cathedral was lengthened to the west by a third bay sometime before 1000 AD and a fourth bay was added in the 11th century. Finally, in the 12th century, the last two western bays were added.
You have to walk up a hill to the Cathedral, so once again, you need to be a little fit!
Open daily 6:30am-7:30pm. Tours in French from early July to late Aug. Free.
Rocher Corneille - Statue of Our Lady of France is painted Pink, and can be seen from anywhere in the City. It is located near the historic city centre.
Quite a story to how it was built back in 1860!
During the Crimean War, 213 gun's from the captured Russian's, were offered by Napoleon III for use in building the Statue of our Lady of France!
The gun's were used to build the statue that is 23 metres high and weighs 835 ton's!
Inside there is a spiral staircase that takes you to the top for some wonderful view's.
YOU MUST BE FIT.
You have to walk up there, and then walk another 260 steps up a spiral stair case.
ADMISSION.....Adults 3 euros.
OPEN..... February 1 to March 15: 10-5pm / March 16 to April 30: 9-6pm
May 1 to June 30: 9-7pm / 1 July to 31 August: 9h-7.30pm / All Sept. 9-7pm
1 October to 15 November: 10-5pm
Closed: November 16 to January 31
How I wished I hadn't worn myself out!
I wanted to climb the 268 step's, but was too weary after climbing many hundred other step's to religious monument's earlier in the day, so I guess this is a warning. They say the steps are wide and in good order, and that there are resting places along the way.
You can't miss seeing the Chapel from the outside, as it is perched on a Volanic Balsat Pinnacle shaped like a needle, that is 260 feet high!
Just from the outside, I had to marvel at how they built this Chapel in 962, really, an outstanding feat! It was enlarged in the 12th century.
The Romans dedicated it to Mercury, the messenger god with winged shoes, before the Christians built a chapel and consecrated it to St. Michael, the Arch Angel, who is the patron of many high places throughout Europe.
Three great stones incorporated into St. Michael's Chapel, are thought to be the remains of a prehistoric dolmen built at the top.
The bell tower fell down in 1275 and was reconstructed in the 19th century.
Around 1850, when plaster was removed, 10th and 12th-century frescoes were found, and in 1955, archaeologists discovered a treasure trove of sacred objects in the altar, which are now displayed behind an iron grate in the wall.
Legend has it that Joan of Arc's mother made a pilgrimage here in the early 15th century to pray for her daughter.
If you do manage the climb, expect a good wide path around the church and sweeping views of Le Puy, the cathedral, and the surrounding countryside.
There is a lot of information and photo's on the website.
As you puff up the hill, eventually you will find yourself at the Cathédrale Notre Dame, at the top of rue des Tables. It is mainly of Romanesque form with Byzantine additions, making it a considerable contrast in style to the better known Gothic cathedrals. As it is built largely from dark volcanic rock, we found the interior rather gloomy, but it is quite a spectacular and different structure in its own right. I’d suggest you will obtain the best photo from up toward the Pink Madonna.
The main point of fame for this cathedral is that it houses a Black Madonna. That’s it in the second photo accompanying this tip (sorry about the quality). As can be seen, it is not large. I gather that the original was destroyed in the Revolution and that the one now on display is a replica. Please don’t ask me about its significance, that isn’t my territory. :)) Update: my VT friend lynnehamman has found more information at this web address - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black Madonna . Suffice to say that, if you’re a Black Madonna enthusiast, there’s one here.
Main photo: Cathédrale Notre Dame and the rooftops of Le Puy
Second photo: The Black Madonna of Le Puy
Another worthwhile climb in Le-Puy! In one of the photos, part way up, in the distance see the Statue of Notre-Dame de France. Beautiful views of course from here, too.
Much to see inside, and there are more photos in the Travelogue below.
This Cathedral is a national monument of France, and has been a centre of pilgrimage in its own right since before the time of Charlemagne, as well as forming part of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. Since 1998 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as part of the "Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France".
It forms the highest point of the city, rising from the foot of the Rocher Corneille, and contains architecture of every period from the fifth century to the fifteenth. However, most of the construction dates from the first half of the 12th century.
We spent several hours wandering through many of the nooks as well as the climb up to the Statue and also INTO the Statue (see other Tips). For many other photos see the TRAVLOGUE.