Le Puy, France

Le Puy
The remarkable Chapel of St Michael on its rocky pinnacle in Le Puy. Photo © Sacred Destinations.

Le Puy-en-Velay (usually referred to as Le Puy) is a city of about 21,000 people in the Auvergne region of south-central France. Le Puy has been a religious center since ancient times, thanks in part to its mystical landscape of volcanic pinnacles. The city itself owes its existence to the cathedral on the hill consecrated to the Virgin Mary, while the rock needle just outside of town was consecrated to the Roman god Mercury before being dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. Since the Middle Ages, Le Puy has been a major place of pilgrimage in its own right (Charlemagne visited twice!) as well as a starting point of pilgrimages to Santiago to Compostela. Pilgrims are still blessed in the cathedral every morning at 7am before they set off on their journey.

Le Puy Cathedral
The exotic facade of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame overlooks Le Puy from the top of steep medieval street. It is still a major starting point for pilgrimages to Santiago.
St. Michel d'Aiguilhe
Built in 962 and enlarged in the 12th century, this pilgrimage chapel stands atop a rock pinnacle 260 feet high. It contains a marvelous carved portal and frescoes.