Vézelay, a charming medieval town, situated in the heart of Burgundy, is 2 ½ hours from Paris and from Lyon. There are many signs of its medieval past with its historical town center on the side of the hill and its ramparts and basilica dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene. It is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
Vézelay became in the 11th century a high place for Christians with, at the time, the relics of Saint Mary Magdalene. It became as well a point of departure for the important pilgrimage toward Santiago de Compostela. Among the illustrious Frenchmen who preached the Crusades were Saint Bernard (founder of the order of Cistercian monks) and the King Richard the Lion Hearted. In 1217 a first monastery was built by the Franciscan brothers. Pilgrimages continue to this day, notably the young people from France and Europe who walk together towards Vézelay, the end point of their pilgrimage.
Today, it is no longer the Franciscans who welcome the pilgrims but rather the Monastic Fraternity of Jerusalem, a renewal community of monks and nuns. They combine monastic life with their work in the heart of the town. After a life-changing experience in the desert, the founder, Father Pierre Marie Delfieux, returned to France to found the fraternities, symbols of oases of peace and silence in the heart of towns and tourist sites.
Vézelay can't be missed in your pilgrimage in France.