One of the most remarkable sites in France.
I visited Le Puy-en-Velay in the Auvergne a few years ago to see perhaps one of the most remarkable sites in France. A church perched on top of a volcanic plug of rock.
The rock is called the Rock of Aiguilhe. The Chapel of St Michael d'Aiguilhe (Chapelle Saint Michel d'Aiguilhe) has stood there for over 1000 years, since Bishop Gothescalk had it built in 962 on his return from a pilgrimage to Santiago del Compostella in Galicia. The rock has actually been a sacred place for thousands of years, long before the church was built a prehistoric dolmen was built there and the Romans dedicated it to Mercury before the Christians built a chapel to St. Michael.
The chapel is reached by 268 stone steps that wind their way up the side of the rock which is 269 feet (82m) high. It is a steep climb but There are places to rest on the way up and the views from the top are magnificent.
In 1955 workers found relics under the alter that had been there since it was built and these are now displayed in a niche in the right wall of the sanctuary. Among the items is an 11th-century wooden crucifix and a and a metal Byzantine cross carved with a Virgin and Child.