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Touring Routes

VEzelay & the Cure Valley

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Ste Madeleine Vezelay Burgundy, France
Basilique Ste-Madeleine

Sometimes at dawn when the mist hangs low in the valley, the Basilica of Vézelay reigns supreme, high on the hilltop at the northern-most tip of the Morvan Forest. Vézelay is not to be missed, it is one of the most important and charming places in Burgundy. The Basilica, one of the finest of Romanesque buildings, is still on the pilgrim route, nearly nine hundred years on.

Head down through the pretty village of St-Père-sous-Vézelay. Just beyond the village is the archaeological site of Les Fontaines-Salées, an interesting settlement based around mineral springs which are still bubbling away. Afterwards you may want to return to St-Père to look around the tiny museum which has the finds from the excavation of the site, including one of the oak well-liners.

Vines have been planted in recent years on the slopes between Vézelay and St-Père so a tasting at Henry de Vézelay can be incorporated in your tour.

Skirt the River Cure. The bridge at Domecy-sur-Cure is a lovely place to have a picnic on a fine day. Then on to Château Bazoches, interesting not only for the décor, but also for the history of its owner, Marshall Vauban, a military strategist par excellence.

Roman Remains Burgundy, France
Les Fontaines-Salées

If time allows, and you are up for a drive through pretty countryside, continue on to Quarré-les-Tombes, a village with over 100 granite sarcophagi surrounding the church. The surrounding area is mysterious with druid relics such as dolmens and stone circles to arouse the curiosity.

Just beyond, is the Abbaye de Pierre-qui-Vire, deep in the woods at St-Léger-Vauban. The building is a clever mixture of old and new architecture and there is a surprisingly up-to-the minute shop there selling pottery made by the monks, music from the abbey and their famous cheeses, plus many religious tomes.

If heading back to Vézelay, go via Avallon. Drive through the old part of town, along the ramparts and pick up the road along the valley of the Cousin to Pontaubert, stopping off at the Moulin des Ruats three star hotel and restaurant for a drink or meal. This is a glorious route.