Blesle, Haute-Loire: tourism & sightseeing
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Blesle is a small village on the River Voireuse in the Haute-Loire department of the Auvergne region, to the west of Brioude.
The village has a history dating back to the founding of a benedictine monastery here in the 9th century (although the site itself was occupied at least 4000 years ago). During the middle ages the town was an important centre for the local lords and barons, a period of wealth that has also left its mark in the shape of the monuments we can see today.
A lovely and ancient village, Blesle has some remains of its colourful past to discover during a visit. The pleasure of a visit comes largely from the ambience and the little details such as the picturesque half-timbered houses, ornate doors and windows in the village, or the discovery of a small courtyard or narrow passage lined with medieval houses - and of course the pleasant stroll along the riverside.
Aside from the narrow streets and medieval houses there are several particular sights to notice as you explore the village of Blesle, among them
- the Abbey Church of Saint-Peter, a traditional roman style church with some interesting ornamentation in stone on the outside and brightly coloured walls on the inside. See also the associated treasury.
- a donjon - the Tour des Mercoeur (known as the 'Tower of 20 angles') and a decorative stone window that remains from the original medieval castle (the rest of the castle you see today is largely an 18th century reconstruction. The Lords of Mercoeur were in opposition with the church for domination of the town and the large tower is a symbol of their power.
- parts of the original defensive walls with four remaining towers;
- the belltower, all that remains of the 14th century Church of Saint-Martin. The belltower is decorated with gargoyles.
- The look-out tower, called 'la tour du Massadou', which is half-way up the hill to provide visibility over the surrounding countryside.
- The church Notre Dame de la Chaigne, on the other side of the river, which was built following a miracle. There is a cemetery by the church which was especially for plague victims and had a statue of a the Virgin Mary for people to pray to. A paralysed lady dragged herself to the statue to pray and was cured and the church built to celebrate the miracle.
After exploring the historic centre of Blesle walk to the river to see a quaint little arched stone bridge across the river, the 16th century hospital at the end of the bridge, now the Musée de la Coffe, and also the traditional washhouses on the river banks.
One unusual destination in the village is the Museum de la Coiffe - a museum dedicated entirely to the headwear, bonnets and hats traditionally worn in the Auvergne (I have to admit I didn't go in myself, but I'm assured it is very interesting).
All around the village the hills rise up steeply adding to the beauty. There is a pleasant walk along the river which allows you to see the village from another angle. The village is attractive now but probably only about half of it has been renovated. In the coming years it is likely to become even more attractive as renovations continue - we recommend you visit Blesle soon to help appreciate its original character.
The village of Blesle is officially listed as one of the 'most beautiful villages in France'.
To explore close to Blesle
Close to Blesle a natural attraction is the basaltic columns in the Alagnon valley.
Photos of Blesle
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Map of Blesle and places to visit
Visit near Blesle with France This Way reviews
... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Haute-Loire
Blesle is classified as a one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages)
Address: Blesle, Brioude, Haute-Loire, Auvergne, 43450, France || GPS: latitude 45.319722, longitude 3.171389
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Abbaye Saint Pierre (Blesle): religious monument
- Massiac: village d'etape (8 km)
- Signal du Luguet: site of natural beauty (15 km)
- Abbaye Saint-Andre (Lavaudieu): religious monument (16 km)
- Basilique de Saint Julien (Brioude): religious monument (17 km)
- Villeneuve-Lembron Chateau: national monument (17 km)
- Eglise de Notre Dame de Mailhat (Lamontgie): religious monument (20 km)
- Lavaudieu: most beautiful village (23 km)
- Eglise de Saint Austremoine d'Issoire (Issoire): religious monument (26 km)
- Issoire: recommended detour (26 km)
- Jardins du château d'Hauterive: remarkable garden (26 km)
- Usson: most beautiful village (27 km)
The French version of this page is at Blesle (Francais)