Formed in 2000, the Le Puy agglomeration counts no fewer than 72 municipalities, including Brives Charensac, located a few minutes by car from the town centre. Attracting exceptional crowds from home and abroad, Le Puy en Velay’s renown is based on a particularly rich history dating back to the palaeolithic era.
As Le Puy en Velay is the European capital of the Ways of Saint James, you will be able to set off to discover the via Podiensis, the most popular route to Santiago de Compostela. Located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, a landscape of fabulous volcanic plateaus, Le Puy en Velay enjoys extremely atypical architecture with two of the town’s finest historical monuments built at the summit of volcanic peaks.
Up to the 10th century, believers came to pray to Mary, until the town became the starting point of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Godescalc, a bishop of Le Puy en Velay, made the town one of the main starting points for the pilgrimage. The influx of pilgrims was responsible for the town’s expansion and renown.
Nowadays, the GR65 path along the route to Santiago de Compostela remains important, but it has competition. The natural environment and certain figures have allowed many other GR hiking routes to be created around Le Puy en Velay. The most important include the GR3 that follows the course of the Loire, the GR70 in the footsteps of the writer Stevenson, and the GR40 that allows you to discover Le Velay’s Volcanoes.
The Departmental Hiking Committee is endeavouring to develop and improve the hiking offering. In addition to over 1,600 km of marked GR hiking trails, the Haute-Loire department also has a network of more than 350 Walking and Hiking routes.
Known as the European capital of the Ways of Saint James, the town of Le Puy en Velay is the starting point for the Via Podiensis. This way is one of the four routes to reach the holy city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain and is above all the most popular route taken. The Via Podiensis brings together French pilgrims, as well as many walkers from Switzerland, Germany and Austria.
You can discover Le Camino in Le Puy en Velay upper town, located in a former townhouse. It is a reception and information centre for pilgrims, as well as a museum-tour that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the Way of Saint James.
A major religious tourism destination, the town welcomes a great influx of visitors throughout the year with 200,000 walkers, en route to “one of the three important pilgrimage cities of Christianity”. All the same, in Le Puy en Velay, not all walking tourists are pilgrims.
Starting from Le Puy en Velay, as well as pilgrims en route along the Ways of Saint James, you will perhaps meet literature lovers setting off in the footsteps of the writer and great traveller Robert Louis Stevenson. Accompanied by a donkey or not, they follow a route that stretches from the Velay region to the Cévennes, to reach the town of Alès in the Gard department.
This hike through Gévaudan and Lozère offers a journey lasting just over ten days across vast volcanic plateaus, mountains, ridges and valleys. Walkers set off to encounter the landscapes and atmospheres that Stevenson discovered almost 145 years earlier and related in his account Travels With a Donkey in the Cévennes.
Contact Le Puy en Velay tourist office or the Association Sur le Chemin de Robert Louis Stevenson to organise your hike.
30 minutes from Le Puy en Velay and Deltour Hotel in Brives Charensac, discover the world of mountains and one of the most imposing peaks in the Massif central: Mont Mézenc, the highest summit in the Ardèche and Haute-Loire regions, which reaches an altitude of 1,753 metres.
Only 5 km from this massif, Les Estables (1,350 m) ski resort, the highest village in Auvergne, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, boasts a downhill and cross-country ski area and a vast play park (winter and summer tobogganing, etc.). In addition, you will also be able to discover Le Meygal cross-country ski area in Queyrières, which is one of the largest in Auvergne along with Le Mézenc.
The land of Le Puy green lentils and Fin gras du Mézenc meat, the Le Velay region is also known for its fine food. Verbena production is another one of Le Puy en Velay’s many assets. The tourist office website also lists a catalogue of regional specialities: tomme aux artisous (raw milk cheese), Hypocras (aperitif based on red or white wine, spices and honey), and Vellavia beer. You can find all these specialities at our partners, especially La Ferme Ponote, a cooperative of local producers, or at the Le Puy en Velay market held every Saturday morning.
The town of Le Puy en Velay is also proudly home to the national lacemaking conservatory. If you wish to learn this exceptional skill, courses are available. Find out more at the Tourist Office.
The Musée Crozatier, an encyclopaedic museum created in 1820, is located in the Henri-Vinay garden in Le Puy en Velay. It includes a historical gallery with treasures, chests and even an Egyptian sarcophagus, another gallery dedicated to fine arts from the 15th to the 20th century, a scientific gallery (notably displaying a wonderfully preserved mastodon) and a final gallery devoted to the culture of Le Puy en Velay, a town of art and history.
Notre-Dame-du-Puy cathedral in the Romanesque style was built on a former sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary constructed in 480. Legend has it that the Virgin appeared in the 5th century on a large dark slab, the fever stone, and cured a woman burning with fever. A Marian cult was thus born, leading to the town’s beginnings and development.
Today still, we find this fever stone and the Black Virgin, which is brought out every year during the Feast of the Assumption The Hôtel Dieu adjoining the cathedral was renovated in the 2000s. It now houses a museum and a digital arts centre, Hôtel des Lumières, which presents 45 minutes of immersive scenography. It is an unmissable cultural destination in Le Puy en Velay.
Majestic symbols of Le Puy en Velay:
– Corneille rock is a volcanic basalt cone on whose summit the statue of Notre-Dame de France keeps watch. It is made of cast iron produced from cannons captured in the 19th century during the siege of Sevastopol in the Crimea.
– A relic of the period of volcanic activity in Auvergne, Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe rock opposite is an impressive monolithic rocky peak over 80 metres high, at the summit of which was built a chapel in the 10th century that can be reached via 268 steps.
Visits to these monuments are included in the Tourism Pass, which you can obtain from the Tourist Office for Le Puy en Velay, a town of art and history.
Offering a warm welcome in Le Puy en Velay is a sacred rule. On the strength of its hospitality to pilgrims from the four corners of Europe, the town of Le Puy en Velay is brimming with friendly, high-quality accommodation. Your Deltour Hotel therefore makes it a point of honour to respect its commitments and offer you a very warm and pleasant stay. Our entire team will be delighted to tell you about the heritage of our wonderful region.
To find out more about activities in Le Velay and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region:
Le Puy en Velay agglomeration Tourist Office
2, place du Clauzel
43000 Le Puy en Velay
Phone : +33(0)4 71 09 38 41