Sights

The park behind the Basilique Ste-Madeleine affords wonderful views of the Vallée de Cure and nearby villages. A dirt road leads north to the old and new cemeteries.

Southeast of Vézelay at the base of the hill, the tiny village of St-Père has a Flamboyant Gothic church and an archaeological museum housing ancient Fontaines Salées finds. About 2km further south, the village of Pierre-Perthuis (literally 'pierced stone') is named after a natural stone arch; nearby, a graceful stone bridge (1770) spans the River Cure underneath a modern highway bridge.

Activities

Vezélay is popular with walkers, in part due to its status as a major trailhead for the Chemin St-Jacques, the legendary medieval pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, Spain (www.compostelle.asso.fr). The surrounding area is crisscrossed with well-maintained trails passing through lovely, pastoral landscapes. Promenade des Fossés circumnavigates Vézelay's medieval ramparts. A footpath with fine views of the basilica links Porte Neuve, on the northern side of the ramparts, with the village of Asquins (ah-kah) and the River Cure. The GR13 trail also passes by Vézelay.

Sleeping

The cluster of traditional hotels at the foot of Vézelay's hill is supplemented by some attractive options closer to the basilica, including a pilgrim's hostel, a simple but atmospheric B&B and a pair of boutiquey newcomers. There are also a number of attractive chambres d'hôte (B&Bs) and gîtes (rental houses) in the surrounding countryside. Ask for a list at Vézelay's tourist office.

Eating

Tiny Vézelay has a handful of eateries, primarily catering to the day-trippers and pilgrims that flock to its famous basilica.

Drinking & Nightlife

Nightlife is not a priority in sleepy Vézelay, but the bar at Restaurant SY La Terrasse is a pleasant spot for a drink, as is the outdoor terrace at Brasserie de Vézelay in the valley below.

Shopping

Vézelay has long attracted artists and writers. About half-a-dozen art galleries and several wine and crafts shops line rue St-Pierre and rue St-Étienne.