Vézelay Travel Guide

  • Vezelay, city on a hill
    Vezelay, city on a hill
    by Beausoleil
  • The basilica at Vezelay
    The basilica at Vezelay
    by Beausoleil
  • Carvings over the door
    Carvings over the door
    by Beausoleil

Vézelay Highlights

  • Pro
    ATLC profile photo

    ATLC says…

     Historical 

  • Con
    ATLC profile photo

    ATLC says…

     Bit touristy 

  • In a nutshell
    Helga67 profile photo

    Helga67 says…

     A beautiful town with a spectacular cathedral 

Vézelay Things to Do

  • Watch the people parade.

    Vezelay has been a pilgrimage town for centuries. It still is, including religious pilgrims, history pilgrims and scenery pilgrims. They all receive satisfaction here.As you walk up the hill, you join a crowd of people heading up with you. There are tourist shops, restaurants, religious item stores . . . and yes, real monks and nuns padding about...

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  • Visit the church

    The wonderful church at Vezelay is not a cathedral which must have a bishop's chair. It is a basilica . . . a fine point for such a magnificent church. After Chartres, this is my favorite church in the entire world. It is not as ornate as, for instance, most Bavarian churches, but the very austerity is what I love about it. When you step inside,...

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  • Picnics, Enjoy the Spacious Grounds

    There are spacious grounds around the BASILICA; which give fabulous views over the countryside, as well as go around the building to see its nooks. If you had the day, you could plan a picnic after seeing the cathedral, and then walk down the hill browsing the various shops, etc.

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  • BROWSE ARTISTS' STUDIOS and SHOPS

    The street which climbs to the top of the hill and the BASILICA is lined with shops, studios, restaurants, etc.

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  • The Great Tympanum Is Under the Narthex

    Because the original church tympani are under the Narthex, the Revolutionaries did not destroy them very badly. They did vent their rage upon the outer (West) face and portal of the Narthex. The inside ones were finished probably between 1120-30, a handful of years after the first ones ever created in Moissac and Toulouse. (There are experts who...

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  • Enter the Church of Ste.-Magdalene

    The nave is very long (200 feet compared to Notre Dame of Paris’ 198 ft; these are nave only figures; the total length is 394 ft., 30 ft less than N.D.) with an aisle at each side and only a two level elevation (no triforium). A portal precedes the nave and each aisle, requiring three tympani. The nave and aisle arches are of alternating colored...

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  • Don't Forget the Tympani of the N. & S....

    The North Portal Tympanum depicts the Resurrection with Christ appearing to the Apostles, Below on the lintel he meets them on the road and then again at Emmaus. To the right is his encounter with the Magdalene. The South Portal is devoted to the birth of Christ. Above is the Adoration of the Magi, while below on the left is the Annunciation, then...

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  • Examine the Narthex Closely

    The Narthex was built between 1140-45. It was created apparently to accommodate the large number of pilgrims arriving. It has a 13C facade in Gothic style that adds a gable above the tympanum. (covered in a Separate Tip) not to be confused with the other three tympani over the doors that lead into the aisles and nave of the church and entered from...

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  • The Narthex: Viollet-le-Duc's Tympanum

    The tympanum on the central door of the West facade of the Narthex was created in 1856 by a sculptor named Pascal under the guidance of Viollet-le-Duc who collected remaining fragments , pictures and pertinent documents. These, plus a deep understanding of Romanesque and Gothic design and early stone carving technics allowed him to synthesize a...

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  • holy Madeleine basilica

    VEZELAY : Basilica Un des joyaux de l'architecture romane, plein de symbolique !

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  • Vezelay: The Pelgrimage.

    VEZELAY: On the way to Santiago de CompostellaVezelay has been a magic place in charge of history at all times, and this for more than thousand years, the pilgrims left the Basilica in direction Santiago de Compostella, Galicia, Spain. In 2004 we were somme of these.The sign of the photograph indicates to the pilgrims the places where they can...

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  • La Madelaine.

    La Madelaine is a very special building. "She" crowns the top of the hill of Vézelay, a laberynth of beautiful streets, with typical façades. Houses which include a "cave" where they keep the wine.

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  • The reluctant tourist

    This young lady looked none to happy to be touring Vezelay that day. I'm sure she was rescued shortly. Lots of walking and not too many child-friendly things to do. Be sure you plan something for small children as a little reward when you make your trip.

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  • Walk Vezelay in an afternoon

    Another typical old country town built on a hill. There are vineyards off on the near horizon, quaint little markets, and an old church. If you visit in the right time of year (spring/summer), the trees will be in full bloom and make for beautiful landscape shots.

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  • The Benedictine abbey of...

    Is one of the most important monuments of architecture and sculpture of the Romanesque period. It was a pilgrimage church in its own right, allegedly holding the relics of St. Mary Magdalen to whom it is dedicated, and it also stood at the beginning of one of the four major routes through France for pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela in...

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Vézelay Hotels

See all 7 Hotels in Vézelay

Vézelay Restaurants

  • Terrace or inside, your choice

    We parked near Hotel de la Post where the tour buses had left a few parking places and checked several menus. None suited so we started up into town where we found La Dent Creuse with an upstairs view terrace . . . sunny and empty . . . and a downstairs dining room nearly full of French elders from one of the buses.Being elders, they were well...

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  • Great Service and Interesting Food

    It is not every day I go to a 3 star Michelin restaurant, but as I was invited by a client company, I assumed it would be rude to refuse. Forgive me for being a bit wordy about it…Service was outstanding – there must have been one member of staff for each diner, although it was surprisingly quiet so maybe that was why we were so well looked...

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  • Lunch

    There are plenty of restaurants in Vezelay. We were a bit late, so there wasn't much choice left. But delicous salad, some chicken and chips and a cool drink are all you need.

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Vézelay Transportation

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    VEZELAY

    by ATLC Written Dec 16, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    One friend from our group decided to cycle the 60 kms from our stay in Commecy to Vezelay. We were full of admiration for his achievement because the road was quite hilly.

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Vézelay Shopping

  • Street shops

    Plenty of quality shops with art, local craft, fashion, books, wine... It's just great to browse around for an hour or so. I even spotted a shop with an exclusive Dutch fashion brand!

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  • Cellar shops

    Because Vezelay is built on a high hill, the romanesque houses have very deep cellars.In some you will find local craft like pottery, honey and wine.

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  • Vézelay Hotels

    7 Hotels in Vézelay

    8 Reviews and Opinions

Vézelay Local Customs

  • Procession of relics

    So it seems that you need to get up early for the Feast of St. Maria-Madeleine. There's a procession in the early morning and a 2 hour mass afterwards. Then there's a lunch al fresco (to join it costs 7 euro) and then, if I understood right, another procession and then a vesper. It ends at 17 hrs.

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  • Sainte Marie-Madeleine

    On July 22 it was the Feast of Sainte Marie-Madeleine in Vezelay. After her the church is named. I didn't quite know what to expect or what the programme was, because I read only a short description in the paper. So when we arrived, there was a long Mass going on and the huge church was absolutely packed.

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Vézelay Tourist Traps

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    VEZELAY

    by ATLC Written Dec 16, 2003

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Park your car where the signs tell you to, at the entrance of the town. Even though the main street is not strictly pedestrian, it doesn't pay to drive in unless you cannot walk. Besides, you want to wander in and out of the little shops on your way to the top.

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Vézelay Off The Beaten Path

  • Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela 2

    Imagine walking this pilgrimage. I'd be so happy to see this sign, a point of rest. You're directed into the tourist office where they'll take care of a bed for you.

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  • Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela

    Vezelay is a main stop in the route to Santiago de Compostela since the 12th century. The route also goes through Puy-en-Velay

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  • New bells

    Elsewhere on my travelpages you may have noticed my interest in campanology. I am a bell ringer in my own hometown Brielle.So imagine my delight when I found these brand new bells on show in St. Madeleine's church in Vezelay!They had just been blessed, these bells. Maybe next time I will hear them ring from the church tower.

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Vézelay Favorites

  • A Short History of the Basilica...

    The Benedictine Abbey of Vezelay was founded in 878. As part of the complex a Carolingian church was built. Early in the 11C relics of the saint were “recovered” from near Aix-en-Provence. Their installation caused a flood of pilgrimages to them. As part of their move to exploit the pilgrimages, the Cluniacs took control of the Abbey. They quickly...

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  • The Capitals of the Church Nave Columns

    This is the main attraction of Vezelay. They were created between 1120-40, less than 50 years after the revival of similar sculpting in Moissac and Toulouse (see our Tips). Thses were the second generation of artists and they have increased mastery of their craft. The figures are not stiff and there is action and insight. It is thought that there...

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  • Pierre-Perthuis

    This village (17 km from Avallon) is famous by two bridges (les deux ponts): big one (Grand Pont, finished in 1874, appr.25 m higher than the small one) and small one (old pedestrian arch bridge completed in 1770) and allows to admire the view of Cure river and rocks.

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Chateau de Bazoches
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Saint-Père-sous-Vezelay
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Church of St Mary Madeleine
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The way....
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BASILICA OF MARY MAGDALENE
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CHATEAU DE BAZOCHES
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