Executive summary by Darmansjah
Vézelay is a commune in the Yonne department in Burgundy in north-central France. It is a defendable hill town famous for Vézelay Abbey. The town and the famous 11th century Romanesque Basilica of St Magdelene are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Vézelay's hilltop location has made it an obvious site for a town since ancient times. In the 9th century the Benedictines were given land to build a monastery. According to legend, not long before the end of the first millennium a monk named Baudillon brought relics (bones) of Mary Magdalene to Vézelay from Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume.
In 1058 Pope Stephen IX confirmed the genuineness of the relics, leading to an influx of pilgrims that has continued to this day. Vézelay Abbey was also a major starting point for pilgrims on the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela, one of the most important of all medieval pilgrimage centres. This was crucially important in attracting pilgrims and the wealth they brought to the town.
Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second Crusade at Vézelay in 1146.
In 1189, the Frankish and English factions of the Third Crusade met at Vézelay before officially departing for the Holy Land.
Bourgogne Vézelay is the local wine appellation. Vineyards descend to the edge of the town and produce a range of mostly white wines, based mainly on the Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Melon de Bourgogne grape varieties. About half of the production is marketed through the Cave Henry co-operative. The vineyards are believed[according to whom?] to have been established by the Monastery in the ninth century. In the late nineteenth century the vineyards were decimated by phylloxera. The vineyards have been revived since the 1970s Chardonnay, Melon and Pinot noir grape varieties.
LEspérance, in the lovely country side of Bourgogne (Burgundy), is home to one of France's most creative and innovative chefs, M. Marc Meneau. It is first and foremost his restaurant around which he has developed a luxury hotel filled with Burgundian country ambiance. As his fame has grown, so has his establishment. It seems that he has bought up half the village in which he was born! He has his own winery as he is in the heart of the Vézelay wine district.
The main and original building is an old mill with two millstreams that pass under it and provide a charming watery ambiance to the back garden as they flank an alley of trees and provide an excuse for half a dozen white painted Japanese style bridges heavy with wild roses and climbing vines. The same streams connect the rest of the Meneau estate across the road. He has two annexes that were also mills as well as a motel and more modest restaurant for those wanting either more budget conscious meals or just a break from the haute cuisine of L'Espérance.