Discover Le Puy-en-Velay

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Alejandra Rangel


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Are you planning to spend a few days in Puy-en-Velay? Prefecture of Haute-Loire, Le Puy-en-Velay is a dynamic city, steeped in history and rich in architectural treasures. Follow our guide and discover this historic city in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. 

The emblematic monuments of Puy-en-Velay 

Notre-Dame du Puy-en-Velay cathedral 

Notre-Dame du Puy-en-Velay cathedral is a major construction of Christian Romanesque art. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, like the whole city, it is one of the emblematic monuments of the city. It was erected between the 11th and 13th centuries. To access it, you will have to climb the many steps of its imposing staircase. Visit the cloister, admire the nave and the various relics housed within the Notre-Dame du Puy-en-Velay cathedral, including the famous Black Madonna. 

  • Puy Cathedral

    The statue of Notre-Dame de France 

    It is impossible not to see the statue of Notre-Dame de France when you are in Puy-en-Velay. It was built between 1856 and 1860 by the sculptor Jean-Marie Bonnassieux, using the metal of more than 200 cannons offered by Napoleon III to the city. The imposing statue measures 22,70 meters and weighs over 800 tons. It dominates the city from the top of the Corneille rock, which rises to 757 meters above sea level. Do not hesitate to stop in the various corners which mark out the rise. They will give you a bit of a break on the ascent. Note that it is possible to enter the interior of the statue. Completely renovated in 2013, it offers an exceptional panorama on Le Puy-en-Velay.

    The statue of Notre-Dame de France

    A legend tenacious tells that the sculptor would have ended his days by throwing himself from the top of the statue. The reason is simple: Jesus would have been placed in the wrong arm of the Virgin Mary. This legend is not true and Jean-Marie Bonnassieux died naturally almost 30 years later. 

    The rock of Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe 

    Le Puy-en-Velay is full of monuments, each more majestic than the next. But if there is one to which the inhabitants of the small town of Auvergne are particularly attached, it is the Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe rock. Located as its name suggests in the small town of Aiguilhe, north of the city, this unusual monument consists ofan ancient volcanic chimney, two million years old, on which was built a small chapel. Do not hesitate to attack its 268 steps to discover it and enjoy a breathtaking view of Le Puy-en-Velay. 

    Rocher Saint-Michel d Aiguilhe

    The Sanctuary of Saint Joseph 

    Located in Espaly Saint-Marcel, at the gates of Puy-en-Velay, the sanctuary of Saint-Joseph is built on the site of an old fortified castle. Inaugurated in 1910, its construction was completed in 1918, after the war. Take the opportunity to visit the chapels set up in caves and the church installed in the ruins of the old fortified castle. 

    Soak up the traditions of the place

    Puy lace, an ancestral tradition

    Puy lace is an ancestral tradition of Puy-en-Velay. It finds its origins in the 15th century. Famous the world over, she is now listed in the inventory of French intangible cultural heritage. Le Puy-en-Velay is home to the center for teaching spindle lace, a technique specific to Puy lace. 

    Take part in the feast of the King of the Bird 

    The feast of the King of the Bird is a highly anticipated moment every year by the ponots (the inhabitants of Puy-en-Velay). It also attracts many tourists who come to attend these celebrations that plunge the city into medieval times. For four days in mid-September, Le Puy-en-Velay makes a leap in history and turns into a medieval town. Camps are set up everywhere to accommodate the 6 people who animate the celebrations of the King of the Bird. The Jardin Henri Vinai welcomes artisans and traders from all over the region. You will find costumes, decorative objects, but also cold meats and pastries from the time. Stop at a tavern and savor a glass of hypocras, a medieval drink made from wine, honey and spices. 

    Wrestling on the feast of the King of the Bird

    Le Puy-en-Velay, starting point of the pilgrimage to Saint-Jacques de Compostelle 

    Le Puy-en-Velay is a starting point for the pilgrimage of Saint-Jacques de Compostelle in Europe. Pilgrims come every year in large numbers to set off on the famous GR 25 roads from the square of Notre-Dame cathedral. But this path is not reserved for practicing Catholics or seasoned walkers. It is accessible to everyone and can be done in part only. Note that its total length to link Le Puy-en-Velay to Santiago de Compostela in Spain is 1 kilometers. 

    The good addresses of Puy-en-Velay 

    Taste regional dishes

    During your visit to Puy-en-Velay, taste regional dishes at the restaurant Écu d'or. Located in an old chapel dating from the 15th century, the Écu d'or offers menus based on regional products. Savor lentils from Puy or a trout from Vourzac. Finish your meal with a piece of country cheese and a perfect verbena ice cream! 

    Visit the Pages distillery 

    The Pages distillery is a real institution here. You will learn, thanks to a guided tour, the secrets of making the famous verbena liqueur. Then head to the museum to admire 100-year-old collector's items. Don't forget to stop by the boutique to bring back some pretty souvenirs from your visit to Puy-en-Velay! 

    Don't miss the Puy-en-Velay market 

    Do you want to taste local specialties? Don't miss the Puy-en-Velay market, voted “most beautiful market in Auvergne” in 2018 and 2019. It is held every Saturday from 8 am to 13 pm on the Place du Plot. You will find all the products that make the region great: vegetables, cold meats, honey and jams, not to mention the famous Puy lentil. 

    The city of Puy-en-Velay

    Practical, consult our climate forecasts month by month to know when to visit Le Puy-en-Velay.

    The small town of Auvergne will have no more secrets for you

    Thanks to this short guide, you have all the cards in hand for make a success of your stay in Puy-en-Velay. The small town of Auvergne will have no more secrets for you: monuments not to be missed under any circumstances, major unmissable events, not to mention the places of life that animate the heart of the city. Pack your bags, plan your vacation and set off to explore Puy-en-Velay, also the opportunity to discover the Gorges de la Loire. 

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