A day in Vézelay is a nice way to relax. Located in the the Burgundy region of France, the town sits on a hill that leads up to the Vézelay Abbey. The town is small and although a tourist destination, it isn’t overwhelmingly crowded.
If you are able, parking at the bottom of the hill and walking up the main road is the best way to experience the town. On the walk up, there are antique and souvenir shops lining the main street. If you are looking for a unique souvenir to bring back from your trip, this is the place. As far as I could tell, all the shops are family owned and one of a kind.
Vézelay is the beginning of one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. The route was mostly used by pilgrims coming from the north and east. The streets have gold scallop shells paved into them, which is a symbol of the Camino de Santiago.
The abbey sits at the top of the hill. Both the church and the hill were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Many pilgrims came through the abbey during the 12th century. The abbey hosted many historical visitors, including King Louis VII, Richard I of England, Philip II of France and Thomas Becket.
I would suggest taking time to explore some of the areas off the main road. All of the buildings are hundreds of years old. With how few cars use some of the streets, it’s easy to pretend you’ve traveled back in time.