Basilique L Epine Unesco Tours Oiseaux © Jean Côme NicolleBasilique L Epine Unesco Tours Oiseaux © Jean Côme Nicolle
©Basilique L Epine Unesco Tours Oiseaux © Jean Côme Nicolle|Jean-Côme Nicolle

UNESCO World Heritage

Discover an exceptional legacy

Châlons-en-Champagne and its surrounding area are home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the Pilgrimage Route to Santiago de Compostela: Notre Dame-en-Vaux Collegiate Church and the Basilica of Notre Dame de l’Epine. Only a short distance away, the “Champagne hillsides, houses and cellars” are also listed among the 45 sites classified by UNESCO. The list highlights cultural and natural sites of “outstanding global value”.

Understanding the history of the route to

Santiago de Compostela

 

Throughout the Middle Ages, Santiago de Compostela was the most important destination for many pilgrims from all over Europe. In order to reach Spain, they had to cross France, thereby passing many historical monuments on their way.

In 1998, two buildings in Châlons and the surrounding area were included in the UNESCO World Heritage list as part of the Pilgrims Route to Santiago de Compostela. These were Notre-Dame-en-Vaux Collegiate Church and Notre-Dame Basilica in l’Epine, a village located 8 kilometres from Châlons-en-Champagne.

Notre-Dame-en-Vaux

Collegiate Church
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In the past, Notre-Dame-en-Vaux Collegiate Church was a meeting point for northern and eastern Europeans setting out on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

Santiago, or Saint James, is considered to have been part of the Christian Reconquista of Spain. He is said to have appeared miraculously in 844 at the Battle of Clavijo, which led to the victory over the Saracens. This miracle is depicted in a stained-glass window in Notre-Dame-en-Vaux Church, which displays the moment when Santiago takes command of the troops that go on to defeat the opposing army fleeing to the right (the stained-glass window of the battle of Santiago in the north aisle).

Notre-Dame-en-Vaux Collegiate Church boasts stunning 16th-century stained-glass windows and a carillon with 56 bells, one of the largest in Europe.

The collegiate church is located at:

1 Place Notre Dame

51000 Châlons-en-Champagne

The entrance is through the small side door on Place Tissier.

Open every day throughout the year.

7.30am – 7pm

(except during church services)

It’s free!

To explore the collegiate church further, there are two options: The audio-guided tour, which you can listen to on your phone, or the interactive tour, which you can follow on the IdVizit App.

Notre-Dame de l'Epine Basilica

An important place of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages
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L’Epine has been a place of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages and around 1200, there was already a modest little chapel.

According to a legend dating from the 17th century, in 1400, shepherds discovered a miraculous statue of the Virgin and Child in a burning thorn bush. The present church was built to house the statue.

Notre-Dame de l’Epine (The Church of Our Lady of the Thorns) therefore has its origins in the devotion to this statue of the Virgin and Child, whose popularity grew to such an extent that it became one of the great pilgrimages in the north of the kingdom.

This statue is preserved and a replica is still on display in the basilica.

A masterpiece of

flamboyant Gothic art

Built in the 15th and 16th centuries thanks to the generosity of pilgrims, its design and structure are those of a small Gothic cathedral. It is a true masterpiece of flamboyant Gothic art and became a basilica in 1914.

Its well-preserved original features and its many gargoyles, which are surprisingly vivid and diverse in their depiction of vices and sins, make it one of the most important landmarks in the region.

The interior features a late 15th century rood screen, the right-hand arcade of which houses the statue of the Virgin Mary for which the place is most famous.

Would you like to explore the Basilica of L’Epine from a distance? Take our virtual tour!

The Basilica is located at:

1 Rue Emile Barbier

51460 L’Épine

All year round.

From March 29th to October 24th: 9am – 6pm

From October 25th to March 28th: 10am – 4pm

It’s free!

On site

To explore the Basilica further, there are two options: The audio-guided tour, which you can listen to on your phone, or the interactive tour, which you can follow on the IdVizit App.