Le Puy-en-Velay Things to Do

  • View of the belfry and dome.
    View of the belfry and dome.
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  • The pieta and the
    The pieta and the "pierre des fievres".
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Most Recent Things to Do in Le Puy-en-Velay

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    Then, Climb UP the Statue Notre-Dame de France

    by ViajesdelMundo Written Jul 13, 2009

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    If you need more excersize, you are allowed to actually climb up into the Statue, which has several viewpoints along the way, thru small windows.

    The statue is 16 meters high and weighs 110 tons. The statue is made up of 105 bolted on pieces, which are visible from inside (see photos).

    Window inside the Statue view fr part way up Bolts descending the inside of statue
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    Climb to the Statue Notre-Dame de France

    by ViajesdelMundo Updated Jul 13, 2009

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    The bronze statue of Notre-Dame de France stands on top of the Corneille Rock, and is made from 213 Russian cannons taken in the Siege of Sevastopol (1854–1855). It was presented to the town on the 12th of September 1860.

    The initial approach is via the Cathedral. It is a reasonably easy ascent, with many places to stop and rest and view the countryside. There are also benchs, toilets and fountains on the way up.

    Statue Notre-Dame de France view fr one of the rest areas from the base of the statute statue of Notre-Dame de France resting part way up
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    A feast for the palate. . . .

    by kokoryko Updated May 28, 2008

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    Lentilles du Puy

    Lentils are quite a common vegetable, which you can find almost everywhere on the planet, with thousands of recipes to prepare these little seeds for the enjoyment of our palate. . . . I had recently wonderful dals in India; I like lentils in almost every way (soups, salads, cooked with smoked pork loin, etc. . . . . ), but there are lots of varieties of lentils and the “Lentille Verte du Puy” is to lentils what “Chateau Lascombes” (a Margaux, Medoc wine) is to red wine: the nec plus ultra!
    The lentille Verte du Puy (The Green Lentil of Le Puy) is grown is a very small area around Le Puy, on volcanic soils, without fertilizers, and benefits of a special label in France, an “appellation contrôlée”, and not all green lentils are from Le Puy. Regulations are very strict to get this label. These lentils have a very thin skin, are soft and sweet, a very special earth flavour, hazelnut perfume, and just as salad with onions and garlic they are the best for me.
    On the main picture they are displayed in the gift shop in Chavaniac’s castle, but in Le Puy area, you can find them in supermarkets, and in good groceries elsewhere in France.

    This lentil has an official website (and an English version), where you may learn a lot more and even download recipes!
    The second picture shows blonde lentils and green lentils; easy to make a difference!

    Metallic boxes of wonderful grains. . . Blonde and green (Picture William Daniels)
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    Fontaine Vibert

    by kokoryko Written Mar 1, 2008

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    The Vibert Fountain

    Leave a little bit the catholic atmosphere and walk around the old city; on Boulevard Carnot, on the west side you will find this small fountain and the statue decorating it on top.
    I did not find information about this little fountain, it is just nice, I like this . . . euh. . . shepherdess ( ? she leans on a billy goat), siren (?) , well, young woman above the strange fishes spitting the water of the fountain. Enough of Holy Mary, this is beautiful too! And near the shades of the linden trees, just enjoy and relax after the walk in the steep streets of Le Puy! Ah don’t drink the water.

    The little siren The sziren and her billy goat Detail
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    Jesus can be cheap here!!

    by kokoryko Written Mar 1, 2008

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    Le Puy is a catholic city, but there are some iconoclasts who manage to acquire crucifixes by dozens and sell them to the tourists; if you want to decorate your house, or just make a small gift, it might be an idea for shopping. . . Well, not me, but watch out, there could be real antiques among these little things.
    There are antique shops in Le Puy, but I did not visit till now.

    Lots of holy crosses !
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    Other religious or civil buildings in Le Puy.

    by kokoryko Updated Mar 1, 2008

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    There is too much to see in Le Puy. . . well, beauty is never too much, but there are lots of other churches to visit, and also, when you walk in the streets you will see remains of the ramparts, beautiful “hotels particuliers” (mansions), mainly of renaissance style, little towers. . . What I like is a bit the austere style of the buildings, not a lot of colours or paints; the shapes, the texture of the volcanic stones give a special cachet to the buildings. . . What to do? Walk and keep the eyes open, every time I come to Le Puy, I discover something new.
    Main picture is Tour Panessac, a tower which guarded the western entrance of the old city.
    On the second and third pictures is Chapelle St Clair, located at the foot of the Aiguilhe Rock a little chapel where the different volcanic rocks used to build it really give a special style to this building.
    There are beautifully carved doors at entrances of schools, convents, or other institutions, like on fourth picture,
    And I like this 17th century very classical house, on Place du Greffe (Picture 5), this luminous façade, the high windows. . . nothing really special, just nice on the little place with the trees. Ah, the sign says it has been sold. . . . . I’ll try next time. . . . .

    Tour Panessac St Clair Chapel St Clair Chapel A door. . . Mansion on place du Greffe
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    Chavaniac La Fayette (2)

    by kokoryko Written Mar 1, 2008

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    If you visit the castle of La Fayette, of course, you should not miss a visit in the beautiful parc; I was two times there, and both times it rained, but no matter, even under rain it is interesting to walk under the big trees, discover the little statues in the gardens, look at the castle from far. It is what gardeners calla “Jardin à l’Anglaise”, an English garden, funny enough if thinking La Fayette fought against the English. . . . But the actual lay out dates from after his death, and I confess, English gardens have more charm to me than the “Jardins à la Française”, French gardens.
    So take an umbrella (well, in summer it does not rain a lot) and walk in the garden, see the big trees, the basins, the statues. . . waterfalls. . . .

    Guided visit only: 5 euros,
    July August 9 am – 6 pm every day
    1st April, 15th November, 10-12 am, 2 – 6 pm
    Closed tuesday

    Little boy in the rain Rain on the pond Chateau seen from the park La Fayette and Washington Waterfall in the park
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    La Fayette nous voila!

    by kokoryko Written Mar 1, 2008

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    “La Fayette nous voila”; that was what the American troops told when they came to Europe in 1917, during WW1, to help the French and their allies against the German in Northern France.
    They remembered La Fayette who contributed to the birth of U S A, specially at the battle of Georgetown.
    La Fayette was born in the castle of the village of Chavaniac (Now Chavaniac - La Fayette), and travelled to America to fight for freedom of the colonies (euh, or against the English. . . ), and the little village of Chavaniac is very proud of his child.
    The castle which has been purchased by an American millionaire in 1917 has been renovated and is now managed by a French-American institution; an interesting museum and a beautiful garden are worth a visit here.
    The visit of the castle takes about 1 hour with a guide, and you will go through many rooms of the castle, from the kitchen to La Fayette’s sleeping room, via many big reception rooms, where is mainly 18th – 19 th century mobiliar; along the visit you will learn about La Fayette’s achievements, his friendship with Washington and his political life after he returned from America, his battles with the Parisian Revolution Establishment. If you American are not catholic and do not make a pilgrimage to Le Puy, you may go there and pay respect to one of the founders of your country. . . .

    Guided visit only: 5 euros,
    July August 9 am – 6 pm every day
    1st April, 15th November, 10-12 am, 2 – 6 pm
    Closed tuesday

    Arriving at Chavaniac The castle seen from the garden Young La Fayette In the corridors of the castle American friend
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    La Fayette

    by kokoryko Written Mar 1, 2008

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    One of the most famous childs of Le Puy is of course La Fayette, yes, the one who contributed to the birth of the United States of America, George Washington’s friend. He is in fact from a village not far from here. In Le Puy he has his statue, of course, which you can see on Boulevard St Louis, just outside the west part of the old city on Boulevard St Louis.
    Not a lot is told about La Fayette in Le Puy, as he lived most of his life in Paris (and America). If you do not have time to visit his birth village (next tips), pay respect to him, and tell the tales of this famous fighter for freedom and democracy to your kids, looking at his statue here.
    This statue, by the way had been hidden during the occupation of France by German troops during WW II, the local people fearing the German would either destroy this symbol of freedom, or more prosaically, use the bronze for their weapon industry. . .


    Boulevard St Louis, near Tour Panessac, west side of old city.

    La Fayette's statue
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    If you have no idea of what to bring back. . .

    by kokoryko Written Mar 1, 2008

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    Verveine du Velay

    The famous Verbena liquor of Velay which comes in green or red, is elaborated in Le Puy since 1859 with 32 different herbs, the Verbena being the most important; the recipe (proportions, distillation type, time of maceration of each, etc. . . ) is of course a secret. Since 1886, the Pages family runs the distillery.
    I am not very fond of sweet alcoholic beverages, but many mothers in law appreciate. . . . Besides its “unequalled taste”, it is said to be a good digestive liquor, helps to sleep, etc. . . Well, it is a very good liquor, but I do not have at home. Those who know the Chartreuse liquor from the Alps, or the Izarra, from the Basque country (did you notice, they all come from mountain areas?) may find some similarities with the Verveine du Velay.
    Good in Le Puy, is that tourists can visit the distillery (the modern one, located in the close by industrial area), learn about mountain plants during that visit, a bit about distillery techniques , have a liquor tasting session, and will be offered a big of choice in other products from the distillery; but the Verveine is the typical one!
    On the second picture is the campanile on the roof of the old headquarters of the Pages family, and the third picture shows this building located in the lower part of Le Puy.

    Visit information on the website (English version).

    Green Vebena liquor bottles Campanile on the head office Old head office of Pages Distillery
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    Jules Valles

    by kokoryko Written Mar 1, 2008

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    The communard from the catholic city!!

    Jules Valles (1832 – 1885), novelist, journalist and communard (Member of the Commune of Paris, the libertarian-communist insurrection,1871 (so well evoked by Victor Hugo in “Les Misérables”) has not the place he deserves in French literature history. Valles was born in Le Puy, in a small poor house and was all his life during a rebellious person. During his exile in London he wrote his major work, comprising three autobiographic novels, “L’enfant” where he describes his poor childhood in Le Puy and the small villages nearby, “Le Bachelier”, where he writes about his youth and how he built his political consciousness during his studies in Paris, and “l’Insurgé”, describing his political life before the Commune de Paris and giving an account on the events during the Commune.
    The catholic (since ever) municipality of Le Puy and the tourist office could not avoid to pay tribute to Jules Valles: he has his street, the house where he was born is marked, and there is a marked hiking path where it is possible to have a little idea of where he lived during his childhood, and may be of what contributed to shape his rebellious mind.
    Valles returned to France in 1880, and tens of thousands of Parisians accompanied him to his last rest place in the Père Lachaise cemetery in 1885.
    Valles’ writings contributed to my way of looking at the world, when I discovered them at 15-16 years old. . . . . and that is why I “visit” him when going to Père Lachaise, in Paris.

    Visit him, rue Jules Valles, of course! Begins Place de la Platrière, 200 m south of the cathedral.

    Jules Vall��s Valles's birth house Rue Julles Vall��s . . . Sign for the hike Valles's grave at P��re Lachaise (Paris)
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    Little statues everywhere

    by kokoryko Updated Mar 1, 2008

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    There are the giant statues of Notre Dame de France, or St Joseph, but if you look up, in the streets, you may see lots of tiny statues (mainly Madonna) in small niches, at house corners, above doors, etc. . . . Some are very interesting to look at, because of the character represented, the situation, the beauty. . . many reasons to keep the eyes up.
    The Madonna on the main picture is behind a grid to protect her from some indelicate visitors certainly; she is from late Renaissance; the same Madonna, on the second picture, in same posture in more modern version and with different material is high enough, to be out of reach of possible looters and is probably not so precious. Other Madonnas in different styles, on the next two pictures, and on the last picture a modern little statue. There are many more in the streets of Le Puy, you can even play with co-travellers or the kids at who will see first the next one, or who sees the most. . . but better is taking time and look quietly, some appear only the second or third time when you walk in the area. . . . . The little statues alone would deserve several pages to inventory them. They are a pleasure to look at when walking in the streets.

    Protected (?) by a grid. . . Another little Madonna Other style. . . but still a Madonna Little Madonna. . . . Modern little statue
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    Notre Dame de France

    by kokoryko Written Mar 1, 2008

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    If you do not remember you are in deep catholic France, she reminds you! Impossible to miss, not to see this giant foundry iron statue in le Puy! This 23 meters high statue has been built on the Rocher Corneille, highest point of the city with 213 cannons taken to the Russian army at Sebastopol in 1854.
    To have a nice birds eye over the city it is worth to walk up the Rocher Corneille and then the 260 steps inside the statue up to her neck, from where you cam look over the city.
    The Virgin is represented with a crown (Queen of heaven), holding her son blessing the city; she stands on a snake, almost dead, victory of the good on the evil (euh. . . ?).

    Small little windows are cut in the walls along the staircase (second picture) and from there, you can have views over the city (third picture). She watches you when you walk in the streets (Picture 4) and even not framed pictures show she dominates the city(picture 5).

    Open every day from February 1st to November 16th and during Christmas holidays
    Tel : 04 71 04 11 33

    Entrance: 3 Euros (1.5 for kids)

    N D de France in Her Splendor. . . View from a little window Whose hand is this? She watches you when you walk in the streets. Not possible to put her at the Cathedral's level.
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    The famous Le Puy spindle lace

    by kokoryko Written Mar 1, 2008

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    Experts recognize the different types of spindle lace of Auvergne (Le Puy, Craponne, Brioude. . . ), the one from le Puy is the most famous.
    The lace here is a made on a “carreau” (pillow lace), a sort of a cushion, on which a patterned cardboard is fixed and guides the worker who works with small needles, fitted along the pattern and, with a number of bobbins (spindles) he (she) unrolls, following to me obscure schemes, this above, then this in that direction, then this above but opposite direction, etc. . . . and they can work very quickly.
    The lace workers you see in the streets, are more or less there for demonstration, but they are skilled, and even men do this. Traditionally, it was done during the long winter eves, by girls or women , in the farms, then later, there were “factories” employing dozens of girls making this dentelle.
    In the streets of Le Puy, you will see them on the windows of the houses and in many shops, specially on avenue de la Cathédrale where people sitting on chairs with their cushion on the lap, work, for themselves and for the tourists.

    On the second picture are two experts working hard in front of their shop, and the third picture shows a man, and samples of this Le Puy lace.
    Work on the cobblestone street on picture 4 and a cushion with card board, , drawings for guiding the work on fifth picture.

    If you are really interested in lace, two places of interest:
    Workshop of National academy of lace, Rue Du Guesclin, (04 71 09 71 41): collections of antique and modern “works of art”; closed in 2007 for renovation.
    Spindle lace school, 38-44, rue Raphaël (04 71 02 01 68): collections of ancient laces; also courses and lessons, even by distance teaching! Check out:

    Needles on the cushion Two Laceworks Another lace worker More. . .
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    Treasure of the cathedral

    by kokoryko Written Mar 1, 2008

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    In the treasure of the cathedral (Entrance bear the cloister) you will find many gifts to the French Church by artists or some patrons; it is a bit a mix of all sorts of artefacts but there are also real relicts and treasures like this painted wooden statue of a pope of Avignon (Benedict XII, picture 2), these strange “vegetal” statues of the 17th century (picture 3), a gold plated bishop’s crozier, (picture 4), or this little altar cross (last picture).
    Many paintings, liturgical instruments will capture you eyes in this little museum; oops, should not be called museum, but “treasure”; enough with Catholics and religious life. . . . . There are other things to look at and to discover in Le Puy!

    2 Euros

    Breaking the chains. . . Pope Benedict XII Vegetal sculpture Crozier Altar cross
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