The first traces of human settlement in the vicinity of Vézelay date from 2300-2200 BC. near the sources of the Salt Fountains.
From the 1st century, the Romans set up the wine-growing on the hill of Vézelay. A temple in honor of Bacchus was discovered by in 1689 in the foundations of the old church of Saint-Etienne during the construction of a new bell tower, which shows the importance of this culture in the region.
Vézelay Abbey was also a major starting point for pilgrims on the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela.