Did you know that France is home to over 50,000 religious and spiritual sites—monasteries, abbeys, churches, cathedrals, and shrines—that form an invaluable part of French heritage? Around 10,000 of these are considered Protected Historical Monuments owing to their cultural significance in French and Christian history spanning over 15 centuries. Consider a stop at one of these UNESCO World Heritage-listed destinations of exceptional beauty and culture when planning your next French itinerary

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CATHEDRAL OF CHARTRES

This world famous stone cathedral with its magnificent stained glass windows is only 1 hour by train from Paris. Make sure to visit between April to October to catch the spectacular light show “Chartres en Lumiere” that begins at nightfall every evening.

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PALAIS DES PAPES, AVIGNON

This Gothic palace, with its acclaimed frescoes, was the official residence of the popes in the 14th century. 25 various sites within the Palace grounds are open for public viewing—from reception rooms, courtyards, and chapels, to the popes’ private apartments.

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LE PUY-EN-VALEY

With its Cathedral (a Marian Shrine) as its focus, this is known as a starting point of “Le Puy Route,” one of 4 French pilgrimage routes leading to the tomb of Saint James in Spain (Camino De Santiago de Compostela).

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ROCAMADOUR

216 steps lead up the pilgrims’ stairway to the basilica and crypt of this Sacred City built on a cliff. Visit 7 medieval chapels including 1 with an image of the Black Madonna.

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MONT SAINT-MICHEL

This monastery atop an island sits on an immense bay where Normandy and Brittany merge. A wonder of medieval architecture, the stunning abbey, ramparts, and medieval road date back to the year 708.

 

Photos courtesy of Atout France, Lourdes Tourism Office, Lisieux Normandy Tourism Office, Alençon Tourism Office