Le Puy en Velay is a French town located in the Haute Loire department and in the Auvergne region. With nearly 20,000 inhabitants, called the Ponots the town is the administrative centre of Haute Loire. The town changed name couple of times. It was first called Le-Puy-en-Velay, and then Le Puy, probably because it was shorter. Nowadays, and since 1988, it is again called Le-Puy-en-Velay.
Le Puy is also the capital city of the Velay area, which used to be a country attached to the Languedoc Province. Since the Revolution, when departments were artificially created, the Velay was remplaced by the Haute Loire department. Owing to its history and its geographical location, Le Puy identity is closer than the Rhone Alpes region than the Auvergne one. Indeed, it is located only 135km from Lyon, 130km from Clermont-Ferrand, and 76km from Saint Etienne.
Le Puy is famous in the whole France and Europe as it is the starting point of the most renowned and used Saint Jacques de Compostelle walkway, to which it actually gave its name (‘Le chemin du Puy’).
Le Puy was also an important and renowned literature town in Occitania, during Middle Ages. There were many schools, amongst them stood out the Saint Mayol academy, which welcomed students from all over Occitania, and also its poetic classes in Occitan. Le Puy was also well renowned for its lace industry.
House prices in 2009 in France are around €3,200 /sq m, since in Haute Loire prices are around €1,560 /sq m, the area can be said to be rather affordable. This is understandable when you look at regional prices, as they do not exceed €1,550/sq m. This can be explained as it is a very rural area. Even towns in the department are rather small, Le Puy with 20,000 inhabitants being the largest one.
As a result, if you like cosmopolitan cities, then Auvergne might not be for you, however, if you are looking for a piece of heaven, between amazing countryside and passionate history and culture, then Haute Loire, and especially Le Puy is your destination!
You can either buy a second-home for you, to go on holidays with your family and enjoy the beautiful nature, but you could also invest in a buy-to-let. Indeed, with 61% of the residents being tenants, you will not have difficulties renting your house. Moreover, if you invest in a gîte, you might also be able to rent your property to Saint Jacques de Compostelle pilgrims.
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Culture, art and historical heritage: as expected Le Puy has been listed as an Art and History town. There are many monuments, mainly religious ones, which must absolutely be seen. Indeed as it was (and is still) the starting point of the Saint Jacques de Compostelle walkway, religion has always been really important in the town. As a result, you can visit the Notre Dame du Puy cathedral. It is a Roman style monument which was influenced along the years by Carolingians, Byzantines, and Arabs. The former cathedral was enlarged along the years in order to be able to welcome the always more numerous pilgrims. In the cathedral you will also see the famous ‘Black Virgin’ which origins are not yet clear cut. If you like paints and museum, do not miss the Crozatier museum, which gathers a very rich and diversified collection of paints about the history of Velay and Haute Loire. And even if you are not a museum lover, you might want to go to the museum just to see the beautiful view it offers over the town.
Local produce: you can not go to Le Puy without tying the AOC lentils. Green lentils in the area have been produced and eaten since the Gallo-Roman era! You will also have to try the Lemon Verbena liquor, a traditional alcoholic drink from the region.
Tourism – sights: as already mentioned, le Puy is mainly renowned for the Saint Jacques de Compostelle walkway. At the beginning, the walkway was only used by Spanish, which is logical as Santiago de Compostela is in Spain. In 950, the Bishop of Le Puy is the first non Spanish pilgrim to go to Santiago. This is why Le Puy is still nowadays the historical departure point, and one of the 4 main walkways to go until Spain. Le Puy walkway stands out for the beauty of the landscape and the impressive architectural heritage during the whole way. As it is also the main walkway it is of course the best equipped as far as infrastructures are concerned. Many part of the French and Spanish walkways are listed as the UNESCO world heritage. In Le Puy, the cathedral and the Hotel Dieu are both listed as such.
Tranquillity and scenery: Le Puy is the capital city of the Velay area. Velay is located in the east of the Massif central, and as a result is very hilly (the highest point being the Puei Vuei, 1,754m). It is a very nice area where you can go hiking or having a walk. As Le Puy was built on a volcano, the town itself is rather hilly which gives it a special appareance.
Location – transport links: as it is the starting point of the Compostelle walkway, Le Puy had to develop its infrastructures in order to be easily reachable by people from all over Europe. As a result, there is a small aerodrome, from where there are national flights, there is also a railway station, with regular trains to Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Clermont-Ferrand. As far as roads are concerned, the European axis Lyon - Toulouse goes through the town (RN88).
Apartments: as 74% of dwellings are apartments in Le Puy you are likely to buy of them. They can also be a good investment for a buy-to-let, or a second home to spend quiet holidays with your family.
Detached houses: as Le Puy is not a huge town, houses, even in the centre are rather large. They can be 2 storey high, and come always with a private parking.
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