A few days ago, I set out to highlight this Burgundy region retreat; but I wandered down my Lady of Water, Lady of Windows trail. Well, I’m back to tell you that any waterside town appeals to me overlooking the enticing River Loire. That setting endears the petite La Charité-sur-Loire, where less than 10,000 residents enjoy an idyllic location and a devotion to books, not to mention a rich historic legacy. Add the self-proclaimed “south of the rain and north of the heat” descriptive, and you may look forward to a moderate climate in which to enjoy all of the advantages of this charming village.
Visitors relish the charm of the medieval town on the banks of the Loire, where traditional boulangeries, cafés, wine shops and dynamic weekly market provide an appealing environment for this Villes des Livres (City of Books). Imagine wandering about to explore the antiquarian bookstores with ancient documents, books, maps and more. Poised in the heart of La Charité-sur-Loire, between the river banks and the priory, the Book Town enjoys an intriguing history.
About 20 years ago, a Parisian book dealer came to settle in the village and created the Old Books and Papers Fair, which not only enjoyed immediate success but prompted other booksellers to locate in the historic village center. The revitalized area now has transformed into a center of interest known and revered across France. Beyond book fairs and markets, Book Town regularly hosts professionals from binders and calligraphers to typographers and graphic artists with talent-building workshops offered through the year.
Stepping back much farther in time, the village dates to the 7th century and is located along the renowned Saint-Jacques de Compostelle pilgrimage route that guided Europeans to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. The generous welcome of pilgrims by local Cluny monks prompted a change in name from the original Seyr to La Charité-sur- Loire. The village is centered on the UNESCO World Heritage 12th century Cluniac priory church of Notre Dame and the adjacent Benedictine Park features remnants of the old cloister walls and ruins of an 11th-century Romanesque church. The park regularly hosts music festivals throughout the year.
Doesn’t it sound like an ideal weekend getaway to wander in the parks, through book stores and boutiques, to stop by the river for a picnic and to slip into an authentic French restaurant at days end? Merveilleux!
We’d love to hear from you!
Copyright © 2005-2018, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved