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One of France's most beautiful villages

Vézelay, which is found in the east of the country in the region of Burgundy, is reputed to be one of France's most beautiful villages. Small as it is, it attracts a great number of visitors throughout the year, and the reason for this is twofold. Firstly, the village attracts visitors for its sheer charm and typical Burgundian character, with its narrow cobble decorated streets, its panoramic hilltop views and ancient stone Romanesque houses.

Vézelay's beautiful Basilica

Secondly, Vézelay has a profound spiritual importance as its beautiful Basilica was once the resting place for the bones of none other than Mary Magdalene. The village is also a traditional resting place for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela.

A living village

Vézelay may be rooted in religion and in history, but the village has a vibrant modern life of its own, with a main street which positively throbs with activity in the summer months. Many of the Romanesque style houses here are built with big, deep cellars, and these have been transformed into thriving small shops where local and regional specialities and crafts are sold. Negotiate the steep steps carefully, and you will find the perfect place to taste and buy superb local wines, honey made by bees in the "garrigue"… the wild vegetation of the hills around the town, or colourful pottery and ceramics made by craftsmen from the area. The village also offers above ground shops and a number of excellent restaurants.

What to see and do

There is quite a lot to see and do in Vézelay, particularly for a village of only 500 inhabitants! It goes without saying that you need to make a visit to the Basilica, whose size and atmosphere is awesome. If you are fortunate enough to be in the village for the Festival of Mary Magdalene, you will find a full day of religious celebration. The festivities include processions, masses and an al fresco lunch, with the festival ending with vespers in the Basilica. Even for non church goers, this day is a special and uniquely atmospheric occasion.

Places nearby to visit

Other places to visit include the Château Bazoches, one time home of Vauban; the Grottes d'Aroy (underground grottos of geological and historical interest); Gallo Roman remains; and, of course, the great vineyards and wine domains of Burgundy.

Sporting activities available

The area around Vézelay offers plenty of scope for you to show off your sporting prowess. Tennis courts, cycle hire, riding stables and great walking trails can all be found nearby. And for the more adventurous, the rushing waters of the River Cure provide a brilliant opportunity to try the adrenaline inducing sports of rafting, kayaking and even the quixotically named "hot dogging" (braving the rapids in a small three-man raft). If that doesn't satisfy your lust for adventure, there is even a hot air ballooning company nearby who can offer you the chance to see the area from the skies!

How to get there

Burgundy lacks for little, except an international airport that can offer direct flights to and from the UK. Flying to Paris, however, isn't too much of a chore, as it is possible to reach Vézelay in under two hours thanks to the excellent French roads and auto routes. Even driving from Calais takes a reasonably painless four to five hours.

Property prices and availability in and around Vézelay

Vézelay is a known beauty spot, and has a limited amount of houses due to its size, so if you have really set your heart on living in the village, you will need to keep a weather eye out for property and snap it up as soon as it becomes available. Pricewise, property in the village itself can tend to be expensive, but very close by, in the surrounding countryside you should be able to pick up a bargain, as the department of the Yonne is not so well known to the international property market.

your questions...

1. A visitor to the site is trying to find a restaurant in Vezelay (added 28/10/13)...

I visited Vezelay several years ago and ate at a wonderful restaurant owned by husband and wife team. We had a wonderful meal there. The wife made pottery, small cups with the Chartres labyrinth imprinted on the bottom of the cups. I can't remember the name of the restaurant and would like to see if I could order some more cups. Do you happen to be familiar with this place? It's located on the left side of the street if you are heading up to the Basilica. Would so appreciate finding this wonderful restaurant. Thank you!

Should anyone reading this be able to help, please do get in touch.

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WHERE IS Vézelay?

Vézelay is located in the east of France. It lies in the south-east of the Yonne department, close to the Yonne's border with the Nièvre department.

Vézelay Property Map


Burgundy Guide

Burgundy Property Map


Yonne Guide

  Yonne Map

Population: 492

Access: By air: There isn't an airport in the area which offers direct UK flights, but Paris is only couple of hours drive away. By boat: The port of Calais is around a four-hour drive from the town, via the new auto routes.

Economy: The village is traditionally agricultural, with regional products such as wine, honey and crafts sold from small shops. Tourism is also significant, particularly religious tourism.

Interesting fact: The Basilica was the resting place for the remains of Mary Magdalene for a year, and this has made it a very important religious site. The village is also a traditional stopping place on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrim trail.

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