The Notre-Dame de Cléry Basilica
You cannot stay in the Loiret without stopping at the Notre-Dame Basilica! Whatever the road you take to come to Cléry-Saint-André, you will inevitably spot the elegant profile of Notre-Dame from afar. It is without hesitation an essential step in the discovery of the heritage of the Terres du Val de Loire.
Comfortably seated on the path linking Orléans and Chambord, our beautiful Dame, a flamboyant Gothic masterpiece, dominates the pleasant Val d’Ardoux valley from the top of its 38-metre height. A major pilgrimage destination, the Cléry Basilica has received the favours of the Kings of France. Its destiny is inseparable from that of King Louis XI, who chose is as his resting place.
Feel free to cross the threshold of this beautiful Dame who will tell you her history and show you her hidden treasures.
The discovery of a statue of the Virgin Mary
The story of the Basilica dates back to the 13th century, when ploughmen discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary in a field of Cléry-Saint-André. The word soon spread, and many pilgrims came from all around to pay their respects and commune in front of Mary, invested with miraculous powers. It was then decided to build a chapel to welcome these passing visitors.
Faced with the extent of the phenomenon, King Philippe Le Bel decided to build a more ambitious church, the first stone of which was laid in 1339. However, the Hundred Years War plunged the region into torment. The English showed no mercy for Notre-Dame de Cléry and left the bell tower for sole witness.
The Royal Chapel
The Church’s rebuilding was initiated in 1444 by the Lord of Beaugency, Jean de Dunois, the famous “Orleans bastard” and comrade in arms of Joan of Arc. He even decided to order a funerary chapel in which he was buried alongside his wife.
Let’s not forget that the destiny of the Basilica is inseparable from that of King Louis XI. The latter multiplied donations and was very devout towards Notre-Dame; He proclaimed it the “Royal Chapel” in 1467 and chose it as his resting place. He has laid there since 1483. He was the first King of France to not be buried alongside his predecessors, in the Saint-Denis Basilica, to the North of Paris.
The rebirth of the Basilica
The life of a church is not a long peaceful river. Notre-Dame de Cléry was further embellished at the beginning of the 16th century before being ransacked once again, first during the Religious wars and again during the French Revolution. A restoration campaign was led throughout the 19th century, thus asserting its architectural and heritage value. It was classified as a “Historic Monument” in 1840 and Pope Léon XIII gave it the honorific title of Basilica in 1894.
Located on the Santiago de Compostela route, the beautiful Dame still welcomes many pilgrims after more than 500 years.
The Tourist Office of Terres du Val de Loire, along with the financial support of the European Union, accompany you in the discovery of the Notre-Dame de Cléry Basilica. Visit aid items (a film, brochures and stands) are provided to highlight the Basilica’s history and architecture and offer you a high-quality visit.
Events not to be missed:
The great pilgrimage takes place every year on 8 September, to celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary
The Marian Festival takes place at the end of September