La Charite-sur-Loire tourism & sightseeing

Photo of La Charite-sur-Loire in Nievre

Visit La Charite-sur-Loire (Burgundy, France)


La Charite-sur-Loire is a town towards the west of the Nievre department of Burgundy, halfway between Sancerre and Nevers and (as you might guess from the name) on the Loire River. It is a pleasure to explore the streets of the town, which has benefitted from a great deal of improvements in recent years.

Exploring La Charité-sur-Loire

Although the monastery complex is the main reason why visitors are attracted to the town, be sure to also explore the narrow streets and stroll down to the bridge across the river when you visit.

Monastery of La Charite-sur-Loire

The Abbey Church of Notre-Dame and associated buildings are the main monument in La Charite-sur-Loire. Dating from the 11th-12th centuries and constructed in the roman style, by the 12th century it was one of the richest monasteries in France, essentially a grand outpost of the bishops of Cluny abbey. The church is reputed for its chevet, facades, belltower, and ornate carved entranceways and capitals.

The gradual decline of the importance of the church and monastery resulted from several things - the Hundred Years War* and the wars of religion played their part, and then a great fire in 1559 caused a great deal of damage. Although the next two centuries saw a rebuilding of the church, the abbey was never to regain its former glory.

After the French revolution the priory got 'absorbed' into neighbouring buildings, only to be rediscovered and re-emerge in the 1970's. The priory is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site as one of the sites on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella.

* Joan of Arc failed to take La Charite-sur-Loire during a battle in the Hundred Years War, which counted against her in her trial since a soldier aided by God would not be expected to lose any battles at all.

Other highlights

Among the other highlights to explore in the town are the ancient defensive ramparts built in the 12th century, and some attractive gardens next to the church. As you climb the long cobbled path of 84 steps you are following the exact same path used by pilgrims since the 12th century!

Stroll across the long stone-arched bridge for views along the river and back across the rooftops of the town.

The town also has a reputation as a centre for book enthusiasts and several shops selling old, rare and second-hand books have opened in the area between the priory and the river in recent years, along with artisans using such traditional skills as calligraphy and book-binding.

Market day is Saturday in La Charite-sur-Loire, at other times there is still a wide selection of shops and restaurants in the town to add interest to a visit.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Nievre guide and the Burgundy guide.

See also:

Map of La Charite-sur-Loire and places to visit

Visit near La Charite-sur-Loire with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Nievre

Address: Charité-sur-Loire, Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire, Nievre, Burgundy, 58400, France || GPS: latitude 47.177778, longitude 3.019722

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The French version of this page is at La Charite-sur-Loire (Francais)