Le-Puy (as in Pwi not Pie)-en-Velay

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August 17th 2012
Published: August 17th 2012
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Tuesday, we set off for Le-Puy-en-Velay. As it was a long drive, we decided to break it up with a couple of stops at two villages classified amongst the most beautiful villages of France. The first was La-Garde-Guerin. This village is quite small and still contained within its walls. It would only take about half an hour to walk around the village. It was originally a fort dating from the 12thcentury. The unique thing about this village was that it was all made from the same stone. There was a tower and a tiny church. The view from the tower was to die for. The next village was Pradelles. As we drove into the village, we wondered how it received its classification as a beautiful city, so we passed straight through it. We arrived at Le-Puy mid-afternoon. We had difficulty negotiating the steep, narrow streets, with a sat nav telling us to go the wrong way up one-way streets. After much angst, we reached our destination and parked the car. We then went to visit the Cathedral, which is UNESCO World Heritage listed. Here, we discovered another black Madonna, which is famous. The city is one of the starting points for pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Also in this town, nearby, there are two other monuments which are well known. Both are located on rock structures that are vents of former volcanoes. One has a statue of Notre Dame of France, and the other has a chapel of Saint Michael. Unfortunately, Our Lady was having a facelift and she was covered in scaffolding. But we still climbed the 757 metres to get to the base of the statue.

On Wednesday, it was the Feast of the Assumption, a public holiday. There were huge celebrations in the Cathedral and the town for Our Lady. It was standing room only in the church for mass. In the afternoon, there was a procession of Our Lady of Le Puy around the streets of the town. We also climbed up to the Chapel of Saint Michael, which was built in 962. It is almost at the height of the Statue of Our Lady, but on a separate pinnacle. It is very tiny, and there were still fairly good remains of frescoes on the ceiling. When we came down, we went to see the Cathedral Cloisters. We saw a beautiful early 13th century fresco of the Crucifixion in the Chapter House there. The Cloisters themselves were very beautiful.

Thursday, we left for Cluny.

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