Creation of a “scriptorium house” in Vézelay

“A scriptorium house” - Today, driven by the development of the activities of the Visitor's House, the Présence à Vézelay association has a new location in the village

scriptorium house


Scriptorium house

At the top of a hill in Burgundy, the former Vézelay abbey church, built as a Basilica in 1920, has stood for 800 years between earth and sky. Panointed with the pilgrimage of Saint Jacques de Compostelle since the Middle Ages, listed as World Heritage by Unesco, it now attracts one million visitors a year. Lovers of art and history, pilgrims, tourists, visitors from all over the world in search of rejuvenation or meaning in their lives climb the hill to discover this masterpiece of Romanesque art. What is called religious or spiritual and cultural tourism is indeed growing today and is even resilient in times of crisis.

For twenty years, the Présence à Vézelay association has welcomed people of all ages and from all backgrounds to the Visitor's House to give them the keys to reading essential to understanding the Roman world. Today, driven by the development of its activities, it has a new location in the village to create a “scriptorium *” house.

* Workshop of the monasteries in which the copyists worked; p. ext., school of scribes or illuminators that one found in particular during the High Middle Ages and the Romanesque period in various ecclesiastical or lay centers (royal or imperial scriptoria) (from apr. Encyclop. univ. t. 20 1975, p. 1751).


  • 100 visitors since opening, half of whom are schoolchildren and students
    • They are preparing to visit the Basilica with theDiscovery workshop
    • A third take part in the other activities on offer: Historic walk, Guided walk through the Basillique, Marquee readings, Atelier du regard, Visits to the Basilica with solstices, film “The Dance of the New Adam”...
    • 10 000 products maison sold: DVDs, postcards, books
    • 95% of excellent reviews
  • Heritage trades training for twenty young people
  • A team of volunteers and two part-time employees
  • An annual budget of around € 60 and a cumulative result of € 000


Two sides of the same coin

Thanks to the acquisition by SCI l'OLifant of a house on rue Bonette, the Visitor's House has a place:

  • of research to feed the content of his visits
  • of heritage mediation training
  • creation of artistic written and audio-visual documents
    • host for “Men and Roads” meetings 

These experiences have been lived up to now at the Visitor's House. Maison Scriptorium will allow them to develop by offering both:

  • a space of silence and research containing texts, books, audio-visual documents relating to the heritage, in particular to the Romanesque world
  • a room for joint work
    • a space to host “People and Paths” meetings as well as expression workshops where the guides in training will be able to develop their faculties of expression, relationship and presence to the public
  • accommodation (3 rooms maximum) for interns and guest researchers
  • a large room uniting dining-room and living room, a kitchen
  • a home for the permanent guides of the Visitor's House


When the XNUMXth century speaks in the XNUMXst century

Roman art expresses a vision of the world capable of enlightening our societies in the changes they are facing.

1- Romanesque architecture peak of harmony which responds to the need for rejuvenation, appeasement, inner unification of all people.

2- The Roman man does not live “above ground”. The architecture and the play of light of the old abbey church bear witness to remarkable geometrical, energetic and astronomical knowledge. The Romanesque sculpture associates the plant, animal and human world. The visitor is invited by these images and these lights to find their rightful place within the universe.

3- Romanesque images are mirrors of the human condition.

By the strength of their symbols, they link man to himself, to the other, to the mystery that he carries within him. No idealization, no condemnation: the human being is called to transform, to verticalize, to reorient all his energies and his passions towards a more being.

The Visitor's House : udo other heritage approach

1- Primacy of human mediation

The choice of guides rather than audio guides dates from the opening of the House. We measure its relevance while the multiplication of technical means of communication does not succeed in eliminating the lack of human relationships.

2- Spend du world outside the interior world

The guide of the Visitor's House is a ferryman from one bank to the other, from a world in front of you to the one you carry within yourself. Each visit is a privileged moment of recreation, fruit of the relationship between the one who discovers, the one who guides and the stone word which reveals itself.

3- Cultivating otherness

The Roman world is an inexhaustible source for those who want to question their relationship to time, money, property, beauty, science… In this context favorable to questioning meaning, the “Men and Paths” meetings offer an inter-disciplinary, interreligious and intercultural perspective in the context of one or two day sessions.


The situation

The house is located in the heights of Vézelay between the Basilica and the Visitor's House. Three possible accesses: place Borot, rue Saint-Pierre, rue du Tripot.

The existing building

It is immediately habitable with some interior fitting work (frame to be modified on the floor of the rooms, general insulation and heating by pellet stoves, roof of the barn to be restored at first and various works). The team takes a few months to define a master plan for longer-term works.

355m² on four levels, in good condition. It is a character house (central stone staircase, spacious volumes, large vaulted room, tiled floors, beamed ceilings). The facade overlooks a square, opposite the bell tower of the old Saint-Pierre church.

Possible extensions that will require structural work 

Convertible attic space, a vaulted cellar of 80 m², an adjoining barn of 34 m² whose main wall reaches 8 meters in height.


En 2020 first development works

Spring: laying of the foundations of the scriptorium upstairs (vaulted room and large room), initial arrangements and gradual moving in, various studies: thermal, mechanical, etc.

Summer : autumn: definition of the master plan, installation of auxiliary heaters, work on the framework

Estimated cost 28€ Funding through donations

2020 tax deductions for donations to the Présence association in Vézelay

Corporate Tax (IS) : 60% deductible, capped at 5% of turnover or € 10 for SMEs. Income tax (IR) : 66% deductible, capped at 20% of taxable income. Tax on Real Estate Fortune (IFI): 75% deductible, deduction capped at € 50.000 (i.e. a maximum donation of € 66.000). In this case, and from a donation greater than € 1.000, check in the name of Fondation Scène et Cité - Fondation de France


By check made out to Présence à Vézelay (or Maison du Visiteur), by transfer to the Présence à Vézelay account IBANFR13 2004 1010 0407 8714 8J02 583


1979 The Présence à Vézelay association, a non-profit organization, was created at the bottom of the village, 4 route de Clamecy, to highlight the cultural and spiritual heritage of Vézelay. As such, it organizes and leads tours of the village and the Basilica.

1990 There is a need for a specific place to prepare the visitor for the discovery of the Basilica.

1994 The association acquires a second house in the heart of the village to install the Visitor's House, thanks to donations from members.

1996 The project receives the first Heritage Prize from the Ford Foundation.

1998 Renovation works are subsidized by public (Europe, State, Region, Department) and private partners.

2002 Creation of SCI l'Olifant.

2003 On March 25, the Visitor's House was inaugurated under the chairmanship of Mr. André Chouraqui and in the presence of Mr. Khamliène Nhouyvanisviong, Unesco.

2012 The association contributes the Maison du Visitor to SCI l'Olifant, of which it is the main partner.

2020 On February 7, SCI l'Olifant acquired a house at 4 rue Bonette thanks to a private contribution and the sale of the house on route de Clamecy.

2021 – 2024 Planned implementation of the master plan including the structural work and fitting out of the barn, the vaulted cellar and the attic.

Le Board of directors

  • Véronique Feugère, guide interpreter of Burgundy, president
  • Elisabeth Toulet, secretary general
  • Christopher Kelly, treasurer
  • Annick Lacroix, journalist
  • Isabelle Schobinger, teacher
  • Jean-Paul Doncoeur, retired engineer
  • Louis Vincent, former regional councilor in Burgundy, retired farmer
  • Bruno Lebecq, manager of the territorial public service, associate professor of universities

The permanent team

  • Hélène Ramin, School of the Louvre
  • Elisabeth Toulet, pedagogue, International Academy of Children's Theater
  • Christopher Kelly, MA Cambridge
  • Jean-Noël André, engineer Centrale Lille
  • Véronique Roche, reception and secretariat

This team is surrounded by experts in architecture, history, theology, symbolism, iconography, visual arts, geobiology, astronomy ...