Travel and tourism guides (2023)

Travel and tourism guides (1)

Visit Vezelay (Burgundy-Franche-Comté, France)

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Vézelay, one of the 'the most beautiful villages in france', located 50 kilometers south ofAuxerrein Burgundy and on the edge ofMorvan Regional Park.

Vézelay and the basilica are not only among the "most beautiful villages in France", but have also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Discover Vezelay

France This Way Review: Vézelay is an attractive site in an imposing hilltop position with far-reaching views over the 'Monts de Morvan' and around a major basilica, so a visit is definitely recommended.

The village of Vézelay, founded around the basilica in the 12th century, is more or less one long, steep path up to the top of the hill of the Vézelay basilica.

Enter the village through the imposing Porte Neuve with its two towers at the foot of the village. It is part of the fortifications that once protected the town and that were built between the 12th and 15th centuries.

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As you walk down the street, you will notice the shells embedded in the ground. These shells are the symbol offrench pilgrimswho left France on foot to the Church of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). One of the four main pilgrimage routes begins at the Basilica of Vézelay.

Many of the houses along the main street are now cafes, galleries and souvenir shops, but I was pleased to see almost none of the "tack" along the street that many tourist spots occupy - if you "need" carved zebras cute, colorful toys. and lollipops that say "je t'aime" you'll have to look elsewhere...

There are also some narrow winding streets off the main road lined with old houses with many examples of local architecture and parts of the original town walls that still surround Vezelay.

At the time of our visit the side streets were very quiet and empty despite the many visitors in the village just a few yards away; be sure to wander around a bit and take a look.


The basilica of Saint-Marie-Madeleine in Vézelay

The highlight of the town is undoubtedly the Basilica of Santa Maria Madalena, an impressive building with high decorative vaults. The basilica contains the relics of Saint Mary and was historically the starting point for pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela.

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After the 12th century, the basilica fell into disrepair and became dangerous to visit. It was restored in the 19th century under the direction of Viollet-le-Duc, the French architect responsible for renovating many of France's greatest monuments into the magnificent basilica you can visit today.

The most notable event in the basilica's history occurred when Richard the Lionheart and Philip Augustus set out from this basilica for the Third Crusade.

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The façade of the basilica is Romanesque in style (although it was greatly reformed and repaired in later centuries) and contains several decorative elements, such as the seated Christ (part of it missing) blessing the evangelists and various statues of saints.

The carved Last Judgment above the door is a 19th century addition, the original being destroyed during the Revolution. As you can see, the left tower was never completed. If you go to the back of the church, you will see that the apse, built around 1190, is in the Gothic style, the original version having collapsed.

Inside the Vézelay Basilica, you first enter the narthex (entry area), which is a large room with three notable doors; In particular, the entrance to the nave contains one of the most extraordinary Roman-style sculptures found in France, depicting Christ and the 12 apostles.

The cathedral's nave is somewhat simpler than the narthex, though large in size, and the many carved capitals and the striped effect through the use of different colors of stone are the main elements of interest.

In an attractive half-timbered house, halfway up the main street, there is a visitor center where you can learn more about the history of the Vezelay Basilica.

verVezelay-Basilikafor details.

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Also seen in Vézelay

Jules Roy's house: The writer Jules Roy lived in Vézelay and today you can visit his house next to the basilica. The grounds of the house are very pretty and quiet, well maintained, and have panoramic views; it's worth checking out, even if you don't know Jules-Roy.

There is also a museum of the work of Violet-le-Duc. The rooms above the cloister of the abbey now house some medieval sculptures from the basilica and its surroundings.

Note: Parking in Vezelay is under the villa and is paid for a small fee (2 euros for 2 hours or 3 euros for the whole day).

Nearby tourist attractions

In stark contrast to Vézelay Abbey, visit the nearby village of Saint-Pere, a small village with an extravagantly decorated 13th-century Gothic-style church that dominates the center of the village. The facade and the entrance portal are the most impressive features. Also in Saint-Pere you can see the excavated ruins of a Roman bath.

The historic center ofavalonand the quiet streets ofMontréalVillage are other highlights in the region around Vezelay.

See more travel ideasYonne guideIt's inBurgundy travel guide.

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Map of Vézelay and nearby places


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Travel and tourism guides (19)


The Vézelay Basilica is a monumental example of Roman architecture, among which the sculptures of the 12th century stand out.

Guide to the Basilica of Vézelay

Travel and tourism guides (20)


Avallon is a very pleasant town with some impressive medieval buildings and the Morvan Regional Park countryside is nearby.

Avallón Guide

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The Collegiale Saint-Martin is the main monument here in the historic center of Clamecy

Guide to Clamecy

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In addition to its fortified entrance, the town of Montreal is a well-preserved medieval town.

Montreal travel guide

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Corbigny, on the edge of the Morvan Regional Park, counts an abbey among its cultural monuments

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Corbigny Guide

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Half-timbered houses and a riverside location make Noyers-sur-Serein one of our favorite small towns in this region.


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Tourist ratings for Vezelay

Vezelay is classified as a protected historic center (protected sector)

Address: Vézelay, Avallon, Burgundy, 89450, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 47.466, longitude 3.7476

Planning your visit to Vézelay, Yonne

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Nearby attractions and places to visit

  • Basilica of Saint Madeleine of Vézelay (monuments on the French pilgrimage routes): Patrimony
  • Church of Saint Jacques de Asquins (Monuments of the French pilgrimage routes): Heritage
  • Clamecy: Security Sector (17 km)
  • Iglesia de San Bartolomé (Cervon): religious monument (25 km)
  • Noyers-sur-Serein: most beautiful village (32 km)
  • Priory of Saint Réverien (Saint-Reverien): religion Denkmal (34 km)
  • morvan: Parque Natural Regional (34 km)
  • Park of Saint-Léger: extraordinary garden (37 km)
  • Auxerre: Security Sector (39 km)
  • Athie Mühlengarten: extraordinary garden (40 km)
  • Basilica of San Andoche (Saulieu): religious monument (42 km)
  • La Chaux garden: remarkable garden (44 km)

The French version of this page is belowVézelay (French)


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