A chequerboard of grey and white stone perched on a volcanic stone crag, Le Puy's cathedral is the monumental starting point for pilgrims embarking on the French Way of St James route. An exquisite blend of architectural styles, the cathedral's entryway is framed by Romanesque arches. Inside are Roman-era frescoes, (some 5.5m high), Baroque statues, an organ dating to 1689, and one of the Auvergne’s most famous Vierges noires (black Madonnas).
The 11th-century black Madonna icon was replaced with a 17th-century statue after the original was publicly burned by revolutionaries in 1794. The 'new' model inspires much the same devotion among pilgrims.
The cathedral is predated by earlier places of worship on the same site, firstly a pagan shrine and later a Christian sanctuary.
It opens an hour later outside high season.