Notre-Dame Cathedral in Puy-en-Velay is a major monument of Romanesque art and Western Christianity. It was inscribed in 1998 on the world heritage list by UNESCO as part of the paths of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle in France. It sits in the upper town of the city of Puy-en-Velay and sees many visitors and pilgrims pass through the 134 steps of its grand majestic staircase every year!

An influx of pilgrims

After a first church built in the 5th century, the Notre-Dame-de-l'Annonciation Cathedral in Puy-en-Velay was built in the shape of a six-bay Latin cross on Mont Anis. Only the choir rests on the rock, the two following spans were built on Gallo-Roman embankment. In the 12th century, the influx of pilgrims led to four additional bays being placed above a vaulted porch to compensate for the slope of Mont-Anis. Topped with domes, they rest on immense pillars. Entrance was via a staircase which opened in the middle of the central nave. In the 19th century, the building was considerably transformed, but the six domes and admirable painted decorations were preserved.


A spectacular and remarkable facade

The facade appears like a gigantic screen which conveys the city, the world and its bustle of activities, to the silence of the sacred place. Almost entirely geometric, it is characterized by a rich polychromy which alternates the dark and light keys at the bottom with the mosaics in the center. These mosaics are sometimes made up of red, black and white fishbone patterns, sometimes of black and white checkerboards. At the top there is a pleated red and white ribbon. Its porch and staircase majestically overlook Rue des Tables.

The statue of the Black Madonna

The 8th century statue of the Black Madonna which is currently on the main altar comes from the old Saint-Maurice du Refuge chapel. She was crowned by the Bishop of Puy in the name of Pope Pius IX, on June 1856, 8, the anniversary of the destruction of the previous effigy, which was burned by the ultra-revolutionaries of Louis Guyardin on June 1794, XNUMX.


The legend of the Stone of Fevers

The local legends of Puy-en-Velay evolve around a stone, perhaps a megalithic slab, which occupied Mont Anis. A part of this basalt stone remains preserved in a chapel of the Holy Crucifix known as the “stone of fevers” or “stone of apparitions”. Legend has it that a woman suffering from fever saw the Virgin Mary in a dream who recommended that she be carried to Mount Anis and lie down on the stone to heal. The widow complies and, cured, would have had an apparition from the Virgin who asked her to go see the first bishop of Velay, so that he could have the plans for a modest oratory built on Mount Anis.

Luke Olivier

The cloister of the cathedral

Built in the 11th and 12th centuries, the cloister is one of the most beautiful Romanesque complexes in Europe. The semi-circular arcades are topped by a mosaic of white, red and black diamonds.

The chapter house, which accommodated the canons of the cathedral, is decorated with a fresco of the Crucifixion from the 13th century, of Byzantine inspiration. Although restored in the 19th century, the cloister presents a remarkable series of historic capitals from the 12th century as well as a wrought iron gate from the beginning of the 13th century.

Housed in the former States Hall of Velay, the Treasury brings together numerous works of religious art.


Starting point of the path Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle

From April 1 to October 31, every day, the pilgrims' mass is celebrated in Notre-Dame du Puy Cathedral. The walkers who set off on the path to Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle attend this mass and receive the blessing. Then, a curious staircase leading directly under the nave opens and reveals the steps as well as rue des Tables, the starting point for hikers heading towards Montbonnet or Saint-Privat d'Allier for the first stage! Before setting off, you can also ask for your credentials.

Le Puy en Velay, starting point of the Saint Jacques

The colorful Puy-en-Velay Cathedral

A major building in religious history, the cathedral hosts the Puy de Lumières show (link to Puy de Lumières page) which shapes its architecture every summer evening. The ornamentation of this heritage monument is modeled in sculptural, organic and futuristic forms, carrying a nod to Puy-en-Velay and its traditions including lace or the path of Saint-Jacques-de- Compostela.

05 July 15 September 2024

Puy of Lights

Le Puy-en-Velay
Experiencing Le Puy-en-Velay means discovering the first light destination in France. Puy de Lumières enhances 9 emblematic heritage sites until midnight every summer evening. At the bend of a square, historical monuments, in the heart of a botanical garden, on a volcanic chimney more than 2 million years old or even on the Loire – 1st river...


Why is the virgin of Puy-en-Velay black?

The statue which is on the main altar would have been offered by King Louis IX (Saint-Louis) on his return from the 7th Crusade. It was a statue that may have come from Egypt and represented an oriental goddess or a Coptic virgin. Many legends and mysteries surround this famous Black Virgin.

When was the cathedral built?

Notre-Dame Cathedral was built between the 11th and 12th centuries.

What is the starting point of the path of Saint-Jacques ?

Puy-en-Velay is known and recognized for being the historic starting point of the famous GR65, via podiensis, towards Saint-Jacques-of Compostela. A mass is celebrated at the cathedral before the walkers leave. The official starting point of the path is Place du Plot, in Puy-en-Velay, a 5-minute walk from the cathedral.

Where is Puy-en-Velay Cathedral located?

Notre-Dame du Puy-en-Velay Cathedral is located in the upper town, in the protected and historic area of ​​Puy-en-Velay. Easily accessible from the city center.


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43000 Le Puy-en-Velay
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Opening hours from January 01 to December 31, 2024
Monday Open
Tuesday Open
Wednesday Open
Thursday Open
Friday Open
Saturday Open
Sunday Open
From November to March the Cathedral is open from 7:00 a.m. to 19:00 p.m.
April to October: open from 6:30 a.m. until 19 p.m.,
from July 15 to August 15 closed at 22 p.m.

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