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Vézelay and the Morvan, Burgundy

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Le St. Etienne

39 Rue St. Etienne
France 89450
Tel: 33 3 86 33 27 34

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Le St. Vincent

Rue St. Etienne
France 89450
Tel: 33 3 86 33 27 79

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Museum of Celtic Civilization

France 71990
Tel: 33 3 85 86 52 35

view web site ›'s insider take:

The medieval citadel of Vézelay, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is celebrated for its basilica, which houses the relics of Mary Magdalene. Though the town remains a pilgrimage site and spiritual center—the basilica draws more than a million visitors each year—most visitors come seeking earthly pleasures: the hotels, restaurants, cafés, and boutiques that line the tilting cobbled streets. You can't get lost: There's one long, main street (the name changes from Grande Rue to Rue St. Etienne) that runs from the Porte de Barle city gate uphill to the basilica. On it is Vézelay's best place to eat, Le St. Etienne, and the area's best gourmet food and wine store, Le St. Vincent, which stocks all the best Burgundies. A 15-minute drive south, in the village of Pierre-Perthuis, is hotel-restaurant Les Deux Ponts.

Due south of Vézelay are the peaks and gorges of the Morvan, a vast parkland that covers the center of Burgundy and is a favored summer retreat for Parisians. Unlike the limestone bluffs of the Burgundian wine country, the Morvan is an eroded granite plateau that ends abruptly a few miles south of Mont Beuvray, the area's geographical and historical high point. Site of the Gauls' ancient "lost city" of Bibracte, where Julius Caesar dictated The Conquest of Gaul in 52 B.C., Mount Beuvray is now an archaeological park. The Museum of Celtic Civilization, located halfway up the mountain, is worth a stop for its historical displays, but the best things about this magic mountain are its hikes and views.—David Downie

Le St. Etienne open Fridays through Tuesdays, late February through mid-January.

Le St. Vincent open daily 9 am to 7:30 pm, Easter through mid-November.

Museum of Celtic Civilization open daily to individual visitors 10 am to 6 pm, mid-March through June and September through mid-November; daily 10 am to 7 pm, July and August. Open year-round for groups with reservation.

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