Stage 8: Mâcon – Saint-Étienne

A thrilling stage took us from Mâcon on the Saône, which is thus in the watershed of the Mediterranean Sea across the European continental divide to Saint-Étienne on the Loire, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, we passed by Villefranche-sur-Saône home to the church of Notre-Dame-des-Marais, Our Lady of the Marshes.

The church of Notre-Dame-des-Marais. (source: Andrzej Harassek, CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Local legend has it that in the 13th century or thereabouts, some shepherds were tending their flocks in the wet meadows surrounding the Saône when they stumbled across a statue of Mary sunk in the marsh. They pulled it out and decided to build a new church near the location, which became Notre-Dame-des-Marais.

A painting in the church depicting the discovery of the statue in the marsh. (source: Quintius, CC-BY-SA 4.0)

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