Puy-en-Velay, France

08:33 Melissa G 0 Comments

In early September my father and I took a little road trip from Paris to Barcelona, on the way we stopped in a commune in the Haute-Loire region, in south central France, called Puy-en-Velay.

To be honest if you asked me to pronounce the name of that town I would not be able to. However it
proves to be exceptionally charming and still has some of that medieval style, I would recommend anyone passing in the region to check it out.

What distinguishes it from other communes in the area are the castles and monuments on top of hills. When driving towards Puy-en-Velay you pass by the Forteresse de Polignac, and you are then greeted by the Saint Michel d'Aiguilhe Chapel.

The chapel rests on a volcanic plug, and has 286 steps carved in the stone that allows you to reach it.

After having rested, and admired vintage cars that were on a journey to Monte Carlo all the way from England, we decided to go on and explore.

We walked through the cobbled streets to get to the top of the hill, passing through tight alleyways reaching beautiful open squares with pastel coloured houses.

Now Puy-en-Valey is renown for its lentils, often accompanied by local sausage, therefore needing a break we were on the lookout for some. Almost every restaurant has their variation of the dish so it was pretty easy to find.

We then went off to find the Cath├ędrale Notre-Dame du Puy, built in the 12th century in a Romanesque style. The inside was impressive but I couldn't take any good pictures as it was quite dark.

Puy-en-Velay is a site of pilgrimage where one goes to be blessed before starting the journey to Santiago de Compostela by foot. It is even said that Joan of Arc's mother prayed in the chapel and cathedral.

However the most striking sight is the iron statue of The Virgin Mary. The statue is positioned at the very top of the hill and overlooks the town, its actually made from 213 Russian cannons taken in the Siege of Sevastopol in the 1850s.

I was determined to get to the very top, which I did regret while climbing all those steps. However being stubborn I kept going and the view was worth it.

Overall the town is incredibly charming, and has this "je ne sais quoi" about it, I highly recommend making a stop in it, even for a couple of hours if you're passing in the region. Its only 134km from Lyon, or 540km from Paris where we came from.