The pilgrims’ routes to Compostela
Throughout the middle ages, the route to Santiago de Compostela was an important pilgrimage for numerous pilgrims coming from all over Europe. In order to reach Spain the pilgrims had to cross France with some towns being steps not to be missed – La Charité was one of these.

The good fathers’ charity

Since the Middle Ages the town has been an unavoidable stop for numerous pilgrims, going from east to west, towards Santiago de Compostela, or from north to south, towards Rome, or even Jerusalem. Folklore suggests that they stopped over in the town to benefit from ‘La Charité des bons pères’, the good fathers’ charity, thus giving the town its name. The town is on the road from Vezelay, or the ‘Via Lemovicensis’, and still has a hospitable feel.

A stopover on the path from Vezelay

Before reaching La Charité-sur-Loire, an important stop on the path from Vezelay, pilgrims stop in the villages of Varzy, Champlémy or Chateauneuf-Val-de-Bargis, and then come via Chasnay, Nannay and Raveau. The pilgrims then head towards Bourges, which can be reached in two days after a break in the Berry countryside. Some choose to continue to Nevers, to visit the shrine of Sainte-Bernadette. The Santiago pilgrims make up part of the landscape around La Charité - they can be seen with their rucksacks and walking sticks after having made long journeys on foot, bicycle, or horse.

Sleep in the heart of the priory

A fine welcome awaits pilgrims in and around La Charité. Local hosts are well used to having them and will adapt to their needs. Accommodation specifically for pilgrims has been made available in the heart of La Charité-sur-Loire since 2002, close to the presbytery and Notre-Dame Church. It is made up of a room with six beds, a small kitchen, a shower and toilets. The keys should be collected from the Tourist Office (remember to reserve!), which welcomes pilgrims with a cup of tea or coffee. Pilgrims can also have their credentials validated with a special stamp. The cost for one night is ¬12.50 (including tax). Information and reservation at the tourist office.
To know more

An anecdote

The route to Santiago de Compostela crosses the region from east to west, and numerous markers help the pilgrims to find their way. The ‘St Jacques’ marker in Nannay, made by François Davin, is certainly one of the most interesting.

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