La Charite-sur-Loire tourism & sightseeing
Visit La Charite-sur-Loire (Burgundy, France)
Exploring La Charité-sur-Loire
It is a pleasure to explore the streets of the town, which has benefitted from a great deal of improvements in recent years. 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 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.
The church is reputed for its chevet surrounded by several chapels, the facade, the belltower, and the ornate carved entranceways: the carved figures above the doorways are very interesting and very typical or romanesque style church decoration. The inside of the church is less unique, but you can see further examples of romanesque carving in the capital stones.
Other highlights in La Charité-sur-Loire
Among the other highlights to explore in the town are the ancient defensive ramparts built in the 12th century: you can follow the walk around the ramparts between the Perrinet Gressard Tower and the Cuffy Tower to enjoy views across the town and the Loire river. There are 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!
You can also see the ruins of an ancent church, the Church of Saint-Laurent, although there is now little remaining of the church.
After exploring the centre of La Charite-sur-Loire you can cross the long stone-arched bridge for views along the river and back across the rooftops of the town. This bridge was built here in the early 16th century, although largely rebuilt in the 18th century.
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.
To the north of La Charité-sur-Loire you will enjoy visiting the village of Sancerre, well known for its vineyards. To the south you can visit the town of Nevers, with its Duke's Palace and cathedral among the highlights.
Map of La Charite-sur-Loire and places to visit
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Address: Charité-sur-Loire, Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire, Nievre, Burgundy, 58400, France || GPS: latitude 47.177778, longitude 3.019722
Plan your visit to La Charite-sur-Loire, Burgundy
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Abbatiale Notre-Dame de La Charité-sur-Loire (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site
- Pougues-les-Eaux: village d'etape (13km)
- Sancerre: recommended detour (22km)
- Eglise de Notre-Dame-du-Pré (Donzy): religious monument (22km)
- Nevers: town of art and history (23km)
- Forgeneuve: remarkable garden (23km)
- Eglise de Saint André (Jussy-Champagne): religious monument (36km)
The French version of this page is at La Charite-sur-Loire (Francais)