Tourist attractions

Le Puy-en-Velay / Romans-sur-Isère

Le Puy-en-Velay

Le Puy-en-Velay

Among the paths going to Santiago de Compostela, the itinerary starting in Le Puy was named Via Podiensis. Not as long as the famous pilgrimage but a lot faster, the last stage having left Le Puy-en-Velay in 1996, had finished in Super-Besse with the victory of Denmark's Rolf Sorensen. Several years earlier in 1990, it was after a start in Le Puy that Spaniard Marino Lejarreta had claimed his only stage win on the Tour at the summit of the Causse Noir in Millau.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation, le Puy-en-Velay © Thinkstock

4 previous stages
Prefecture of Haute-Loire (43)

Population: 19,000(81,000 in the 71 communes in the Puy-en-Velay agglomeration

Specialities: Le Puy lace, green lentils, Verveine du Velay (liquor), teas and infusions, fin Gras of Mézenc (AOC meat), mountain sausages, mushroom, Le Velay cheese, Vellavia beer.

Celebrities: Jules Vallès (journalist, writer and politician), Emile Reynaud (cinema pioneer), Marquis de Lafayette, Pierre Chany (former cycling journalist for l'Equipe), Charles Crozatier (sculptor), Sydney Govou, Gregory Coupet, Jerémy Perbet (football), Marion Bartoli (tennis), Julien Malzieu (rugby union), Regis Marcon, François Gagnaire ( famous chefs)

Sport: Le Puy Foot 43 Auvergne (football, 5th division). Canoeing and rafting in the gorges of Allier), winter sports on the domains of Meygal and Mezenc, mountain bike.

Events: Grand Trail du Saint-Jacques, Le Puy 15 km (running), International petanque tournament (bowls), Montgolfier in Velay.

Economy: food industry (lentils, mushroom and organic products), pharmaceutical industric, pneumatics, paper mills, luxury leather, digital imagery, cultural tourism. Conditioning and Packaging High School.

Heritage: Notre-Dame-de-l'Annonciation cathedral (13th century), Corneille rock and Notre-Dame-de-France statue, Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe chapel (10th century), cloister of the cathedral, old town (35 hectares or preserved sector), Camino (museum and guest house for Compostella pilgrims), fortress of Polignac

Festivals: Renaissance festival Roi de l'Oiseau. Nights of Saint-Jacques. Interfolk (international folk festival), La Chaise-Dieu music festival, Country Rendez-vous in Craponne-sur-Arzon, Brass Festival in Monastier-sur-Gazeille, pilgrimage (August 15), Le Puy de lumières

Sustainable development: Via Fluvia green way (120 km), 3,400 km of cycling circuits, vélorail de Pradelles in Langogne and in Dunières

Labels: town of art and history, Chlidren friendly town, 3 flowers. Le Puy-en-Velay belongs to the French Association of sanctuary towns.

Signature: European capital of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella.  

Web sites

Le Puy-en-Velay and cycling

While pilgrims have been heading for Le Puy-en-Velay since the Middle Ages, the Tour de France waited until 1954 to pay its first visit. At the foot of the Notre-Dame de France looking over the city, Dominique Forlini had clinched the day's laurels after a long breakaway with Dutchman Gerrit Voorting. The Six Day specialist also won a stage in Brest that same year.

In 1990, relentless Spaniard Marino Lejarreta, who rode 27 Grand Tours in his career, won his only Tour de France in a stage from Le Puy to Millau. Swiss Pascal Richard had his best season in 1996, winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Olympics and a stage in Le Puy.

The last finish in Le Puy was in 2005. Among the four escapees of the day, Italian Giuseppe Guerini was the most cunning. 

Dominique Forlini - Tour de France 1954 © Presse SportsTour de France 1990, Le Puy-En-Velay / Millau, Victoire de Marino Lejarreta © Presse Sports / DeschampsTour de France 2005, Issoire / Le Puy-En-Velay, victoire de Giuseppe Guerini © Presse Sports / Biville

4 previous stages
Prefecture of Haute-Loire (43)

Population: 19,000(81,000 in the 71 communes in the Puy-en-Velay agglomeration

Specialities: Le Puy lace, green lentils, Verveine du Velay (liquor), teas and infusions, fin Gras of Mézenc (AOC meat), mountain sausages, mushroom, Le Velay cheese, Vellavia beer.

Celebrities: Jules Vallès (journalist, writer and politician), Emile Reynaud (cinema pioneer), Marquis de Lafayette, Pierre Chany (former cycling journalist for l'Equipe), Charles Crozatier (sculptor), Sydney Govou, Gregory Coupet, Jerémy Perbet (football), Marion Bartoli (tennis), Julien Malzieu (rugby union), Regis Marcon, François Gagnaire ( famous chefs)

Sport: Le Puy Foot 43 Auvergne (football, 5th division). Canoeing and rafting in the gorges of Allier), winter sports on the domains of Meygal and Mezenc, mountain bike.

Events: Grand Trail du Saint-Jacques, Le Puy 15 km (running), International petanque tournament (bowls), Montgolfier in Velay.

Economy: food industry (lentils, mushroom and organic products), pharmaceutical industric, pneumatics, paper mills, luxury leather, digital imagery, cultural tourism. Conditioning and Packaging High School.

Heritage: Notre-Dame-de-l'Annonciation cathedral (13th century), Corneille rock and Notre-Dame-de-France statue, Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe chapel (10th century), cloister of the cathedral, old town (35 hectares or preserved sector), Camino (museum and guest house for Compostella pilgrims), fortress of Polignac

Festivals: Renaissance festival Roi de l'Oiseau. Nights of Saint-Jacques. Interfolk (international folk festival), La Chaise-Dieu music festival, Country Rendez-vous in Craponne-sur-Arzon, Brass Festival in Monastier-sur-Gazeille, pilgrimage (August 15), Le Puy de lumières

Sustainable development: Via Fluvia green way (120 km), 3,400 km of cycling circuits, vélorail de Pradelles in Langogne and in Dunières

Labels: town of art and history, Chlidren friendly town, 3 flowers. Le Puy-en-Velay belongs to the French Association of sanctuary towns.

Signature: European capital of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella.  

Web sites

Sights

Notre-Dame cathedral
The cathedral was built on mount Anis on the site of a 5th century church. In the 12th century, the constant flow of pilgrims made it necessary to enlarge and adapt the building to the declivity of the hill. A staircase was leading directly into the middle of the nave. The building was considerably refurbished in the 19th century but the six domes and remarkable painted frescos were preserved. From 1994 and 1999, a complete restoration made it possible to reopen the central staircase closed in the 18th century. The frescos were renovated and the 17th century organ was repaired. A new altar was installed while the altar of the pilgrims, along the eastern wall, holds the Black Virgin that replaced the original statue, burnt during the Revolution. The cathedral was listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1998. The starting point of one of the most popular pilgrimages to Compostella, the cathedral was voted France's second favourite monument in 2015.
www.cathedraledupuy.org

Notre-Dame de France statue
On September 8, 1855, general Pelissier won the battle of Sebastopol in the War of Crimea against the Russians. It was decided that the 200 cannons seized to the enemy would be melted and turned into a statue that the Le Puy parish vowed to dedicate to Notre-Dame de France. Sculpted by Jean-Marie Bonnassieux, the statue was inaugurated on September 12, 1860, in front of 120,000 pilgrims. It is 16 metres tall and 22 metres with the pedestal. It weights 835 tons, 110 tons for the statue, 680 tons for the pedestal and 45 tons for the iron coating.

Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe rock and chapel
The rock ofAiguilhe is the chimney of an ancient volcano, called “neck”. The chapel dedicated to St Michel and reached by climbing 268 steps, was built in 1962 by canon Truanus and consecrated by Gothescalk, bishop of Le Puy, a pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela. The site was voted the 4th favourite in France in 2014. The façade of the chapel displays a remarkable polychromatic decoration. The current bell-tower dates from 1855 after the original one was destroyed by lightning in 1245.
www.rochersaintmichel.fr

Lace Education Centre
Created in 1974 the Lace Education Centre aims at preserving the tradition and the heritage of lace in Le Puy. With time, the centre earned an international reputation and organises lectures and conferences worldwide.
www.ladentelledupuy.com

Verveine du Velay distillery
Verveine du Velay has bee since 1859 one of the gastronomic emblems of Auvergne. The Pages distillery welcomes visitors on two sites, a former cinema turned into the House of Verveune du Velay in the centre of Le Puy. But also the distillery to discover the history and fabrication secrets of the famous liquor, a mixture of 32 plants and herbs.

Hôtel-Dieu of Le Puy-en-Velay
A World Heritage site, Le Puiy's Hotel-Dieu was created in the 12th century to host the most miserable patients. It was directly linked to the pilgrimage and to the town's sanctuary. It is now an exhibition centre and a congress hall. In 2017, an exceptional exhibition on Picasso and maternity is on display.
/www.hoteldieu.info

Fortress of Polignac
The medieval fortress of Polignac, at the gates of Le Puy-en-Velay is a unique site in Auvergne. Sitting on a volcanic hill, it offers a striking spectacle and an exceptional panorama from its platform. The fortress inspired several famous visitors. George Sand, for one, has written a novel with Polignac as its setting.
www.forteressedepolignac.fr

Vue de la ville avec la Cathédrale © Luc OlivierStatue de Notre-Dame de France, se dressant sur le rocher Corneille © Torsade de PointesAiguilhe - Rocher et chapelle Saint Michel et vue sur le Puy-en-Velay © Luc OlivierDentelles du Puy en vitrine © SuzanneVerveine du Velay et lentilles du Puy, deux productions vellaves inscrites au Site remarquable du goût. © Marianne CasamanceHôtel-Dieu du haut des escaliers de la cathédrale © Luc OlivierVue sur la forteresse de Polignac © Polignac - Forteresse

4 previous stages
Prefecture of Haute-Loire (43)

Population: 19,000(81,000 in the 71 communes in the Puy-en-Velay agglomeration

Specialities: Le Puy lace, green lentils, Verveine du Velay (liquor), teas and infusions, fin Gras of Mézenc (AOC meat), mountain sausages, mushroom, Le Velay cheese, Vellavia beer.

Celebrities: Jules Vallès (journalist, writer and politician), Emile Reynaud (cinema pioneer), Marquis de Lafayette, Pierre Chany (former cycling journalist for l'Equipe), Charles Crozatier (sculptor), Sydney Govou, Gregory Coupet, Jerémy Perbet (football), Marion Bartoli (tennis), Julien Malzieu (rugby union), Regis Marcon, François Gagnaire ( famous chefs)

Sport: Le Puy Foot 43 Auvergne (football, 5th division). Canoeing and rafting in the gorges of Allier), winter sports on the domains of Meygal and Mezenc, mountain bike.

Events: Grand Trail du Saint-Jacques, Le Puy 15 km (running), International petanque tournament (bowls), Montgolfier in Velay.

Economy: food industry (lentils, mushroom and organic products), pharmaceutical industric, pneumatics, paper mills, luxury leather, digital imagery, cultural tourism. Conditioning and Packaging High School.

Heritage: Notre-Dame-de-l'Annonciation cathedral (13th century), Corneille rock and Notre-Dame-de-France statue, Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe chapel (10th century), cloister of the cathedral, old town (35 hectares or preserved sector), Camino (museum and guest house for Compostella pilgrims), fortress of Polignac

Festivals: Renaissance festival Roi de l'Oiseau. Nights of Saint-Jacques. Interfolk (international folk festival), La Chaise-Dieu music festival, Country Rendez-vous in Craponne-sur-Arzon, Brass Festival in Monastier-sur-Gazeille, pilgrimage (August 15), Le Puy de lumières

Sustainable development: Via Fluvia green way (120 km), 3,400 km of cycling circuits, vélorail de Pradelles in Langogne and in Dunières

Labels: town of art and history, Chlidren friendly town, 3 flowers. Le Puy-en-Velay belongs to the French Association of sanctuary towns.

Signature: European capital of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella.  

Web sites

Sables de l'Herbasse et des Balmes de l'Isère

© JC de Massary

At the very end of the stage, the riders cross the Natura 2000 site comprised of the sands of the Herbasse and the Balmes de l'Isère. This region is very fragmented due to the strong urbanisation of its environment. However, it displays a beautiful biodiversity by flaunting a mosaic of habitats and species of European interest (such as dry grasslands, the great crested newt and numerous bats).

Read more: www.afbiodiversite.fr/fr/stage-16-le-puy-en-velay-romans-sur-isere

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