Once upon a time—in the year A.D. 951, to be exact—a bishop in France wanted to commemorate his thousand-mile trek back home from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. He chose to build a small chapel, St. Michel d’Aiguilhe, atop a towering volcanic plug in the center of his town, Le Puy-en-Velay.
Today, you needn’t trace the bishop’s long walk to see the chapel. Rather, prepare yourself to scale a 268-step stairway up the 269-foot tall volcanic needle to the chapel.
Aiguilhe is French for “needle,” and the chapel is dedicated to the Archangel Michael, likely because of his propensity to appear on mountain tops and other high places. The interior architecture of the chapel reflects characteristics of the Grand Mosque in Córdoba, Spain.
Across town, another volcanic plug is topped by “Notre-Dame de France,” a monumental statue created in 1860 by melting down 213 Russian cannons seized in the Crimean War under the command of Napoleon III. Touché.
For information about a visit to France, contact Mariana Tosic at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-490-8008.
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