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What a heavenly place to visit!

The Belle France guide to the most spectacular religious sites in France

France has some of the most spectacular cathedrals, churches and monasteries, beautiful examples of architecture from the Gothic period, which make the buildings not just spiritual places to visit, but steeped in history and containing fascinating stories and other treasures.

Avignon Cathedral

Avignon Cathedral

The papal city of Avignon is picturesque, and you can’t visit the city without noticing the spectacular Palais des Popes. Next to the Palace however, is the Cathedral, originally built in the 12th Century. It has been added to over the years, so that it isn’t hidden next to the palace! It’s topped with a gilded lantern, which was added in the 19th century, and its glow can be seen for miles around.

The cathedral is the home to the final resting place of some Popes, you can view their ornate tombs, as well as Baroque galleries and Romanesque vaults.

Our new tour for 2017, Provence Wine Trails – Châteauneuf du Pape begins in Avignon, and you will have some time to explore the city.

Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Cathedral

This Gothic cathedral is sometimes called the Pink Cathedral because of the reddish sandstone used to build it. The site was originally occupied by a Roman temple and then a church was built there in 1015, but it was destroyed by fire. The cathedral as it is seen today was built in the 13th Century, with plans to build two spires, but only one was completed, making it easy to identify as it looks completely unique to other cathedrals built around the same time.

Inside, you can climb up 300 steps to a platform, to capture a stunning panoramic view of the city. Other sights to see include an astronomical clock which plays a performance at 12.30 each day called the Twelve Apostles Parade. Coupled with some stunning stained glass windows which, if captured at the right time, shines the light into the cathedral, making beautiful reflections.

Our Alsace Prestige en Vélo tour begins in Strasbourg, and you will have some time to explore the city, along with the Cathedral.

Vézelay Abbey

Vézelay Abbey

The Basilica of St Mary Magdalene is the largest Romanesque church in France, and only slightly smaller than the Notre-Dame in Paris. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s easy to see why. Not only because it’s beautiful to look at, but because it was also allegedly the home to the relics of St Mary Magdalene. Because of this, it was a major pilgrimage destination and also was the site of the start of the Second and Third Crusades.

Inside the sights to see include the Gothic choir when filled with light is really a sight to behold. The Romanesque nave is impressive, if you happen to be in the nave at midday on the summer solstice, nine pools of sunlight create a path leading to the altar. Likewise, midday in the winter solstice sees the light fall on a different part of the church forming a different pattern.

Our Canal du Nivernais Cycling Tour stops at Vézelay as part of the itinerary, giving you time to explore the town as well as the Basilica.

Reims Cathedral

Reims Cathedral

The Kings of France were once crowned here. Built in the 13th Century, it was then lengthened in the 14th Century to make room for the crowds wanting to see the coronations. Its iconic two towers make it easy to identify, one of them contains a bell which weighs over 11 tonnes!

Stained glass in the cathedral, in particular a rose design which can be seen in the main part of the church, and there are even some designed by Marc Chagall. The holy flask which was used to anoint the French kings can be seen, and there are also other treasures such as fine sumptuous tapestries are also displayed.

Our Luxury Sparkling Champagne Walk through the Champagne region begins in the city of Reims, so before the tour gets started, you’ve got time to visit the cathedral and take in the stunning views.

Just a small selection of some of the stunning buildings to be found all over France. Our tours take in even more cathedrals, churches, abbeys, monasteries and other sites of religious significance, so if you’d like us to plot a holiday which takes some of these sights in, then get in touch, and we can help.

Main article images:

Basilica Sainte-Marie-Madeleine - By Dietrich Krieger, CC BY-SA 3.0
Strasbourg Cathedral in Alsace, France, as viewed from the west from Rue Mercière - By Diliff - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
France Avignon Notre-Dame-des-Doms - By Rolf Süssbrich - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

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