From Cordes to Vaour countries
List of townships from Cordes sur Ciel to Vaour countries:
Cordes sur Ciel fascinates all the people who discover this city, because first it is a vision : a city rising up to the assault of the sky. After, because it’s an art and a history book, animated for 800 years thanks to the memory of the stones and men who built it. Finally, because it is an intemporal place marked by a traditional magic whose origin dates back to the Middle Ages, during the crusade against the Albigeois.
During this period of inherent trouble to the suppression of northern French and Catholic Church against the Cathars who are accused of heresy, the young Count of Toulouse Raimond VII formalize the 4th November of 1222 the foundation of the city, in a certificate always preserved. Considered as one of the first the « fortified town » of the region, Cordes had an exceptional growth, thanks to the trade of weaving (hessian, sheets) and the leather. During this golden age (from 1280 to 1350), enriched traders and some noble families built sumptuous, gothic palaces with surprising decored facades.
At the same time, the city adopt lines of fortifications, in order to contain a growing population quickly totaling approximately 5 500 inhabitants.
In the XVIe century, after Religion Wars, and at the end of the XVII century with the construction of the Canal du Midi which upset the main communication axis of the southwest, the city meet a period of decline. During the two following centuries, this downturn and this (relative) poverty protect the medieval constructions of destructions, which give us now a notable architectural heritage because it is practically intact : powerful fortified gates, luxurious houses with sculpted facades glorifying Gothic art. With this heritage, Cordes is one of the most significate medieval city of France and one of the symbolic place of European heritage. It is now graded among « Les Grands Sites Midi Pyrénées “
Its quality of life with an exceptional authenticity attracted, inspired, kept artists and craftsman who, directly or indirectly, were at the origin of the resurgence of Cordes. Together during the Second World War, around the painter Yves Brayer, they woke up the forgotten city, and permitted it to take a new rise.
From its rocky spur crowned by an impregnable fortress defying the laws of balance, the village of Penne take care of the gorges of Aveyron. This strategic position nurtured its history with several influences. The origin of this picturesque medieval village is closely linked to the history of its medieval castle, masterpiece of military architecture built at the end of the Xe Century.
Appanage of powerful local lords at the XIIe century, the edifice, was demolished during centuries, and after graded “Monument Historique” in 1902. It is now restored and opened to the public. Others heritage elements reveal themselves at the mercy of narrow and sinuous little streets of Penne. Ancient corn-measures, half-timbered houses, gates and lintels of XVIIe century; church contributing to the defensive system of the village; ramparts and fortified gates which can still visible today.
During the forties, the charm of the village attracted and inspired some artists and intellectuals close to Surrealism: Aline Gagnaire, Noël Arnaud, Georges Herment, Marcel Lenoir…
This medieval village called “village des murs” develops itself in « escargot » below the feudal castle restored in 1630. A lot of vestiges of its rich past have to be visited: ramparts in horseshoe with beautiful ground arch (arc de décharge), fortified gates … The gothic church Saint-Pierre-aux-Liens houses a beautiful chandelier from the early XVIth century representing the martyr of Saint Sébastien. When spring comes, you can stroll in the village which adorn itself of thousands of flowers.
On the convergence of Aveyron and Viaur, and separated by a bridge, the two villages St-Martin-Laguépie and Laguépie are dominated by ruins of medieval castle which sheltered powerful lords at the end of the XII century. The history of this castle was turbulent: burned in 1212 during the crusade against the Albigeois by Simon de Monfort, rebuilt and acquired by lot of counts and lords (Count of Toulouse Raimond VII, Lords of Penne …), English occupation during approximately thirty years during the One Hundred Years War, and destruction (also the village) during religious war and plundering while the Revolution. Thereafter, it was sold to a family Freissinet who try to conserve the ruins. Now, it is the acquisition of the city council of Saint Martin Laguépie. The association « Lou Viel Castel » take care of the upgrading and the conservation of the edifice, opened to the public since 2006 (summer period and the annual day of heritage).
Built on the heights of the plateau of Cordes, the village Bournazel reveal a very attracted heritage: the castle of Boisse (private castle dating from the XV and XVI centuries) with its unique main building and its façade crowned by a projecting tower in circle, on the village square, a wrought-iron cross of the XVI century, graded Monument Historique since 1959 and the church Saint Barthélémy (XII century) and its copy of Saint Clair, first bishop of Albi.
At the origin, the village Les Cabannes was the place of residence for the quarry-workers who exploited quarries of Garissou, name given to the dolomitic limestone rock extract here. This quarry supplied a major part of raw material for the building of Cordes. Later, it was the tanners working in Cordes who settled here. Currently, the historical centre of the village houses an rich architectural heritage : the church Saint Antoine, the tower Sarrasine, before linked to the castle of Cajarc, which belonged to a Marquis of Saint Félix, the place with the same name and its typical houses, and the wrought-iron cross of the XIV century. Throughout the year, the municipality proposes some must-see events and animations: les “mercredis cabannais” (market, pre-dinner, concerts, open air cinema) garage sale, association celebrations…
The municipality of Labarthe – Bleys, situated along the Cérou at the heart of amazing views, results from the joining of two hamlets Labarthe et Bleys. A third, la Treyne joined this set in 1827.
The origin of Labarthe come from Occitan which signify “moorlands, lands covered of scrubs”. The village’s historic center preserved its authenticity, thanks to heritage elements like the church Saint Hilaire with its flamboyant gothic style and its steeple of 14m, the War Memorial, the city hall or a little rural heritage like the washing place of la Treyne recently restored.
The heart of the Cordes’ country, the village of Lacapelle-Ségalar was linked historically to the Albigeois whose north-east part belongs to the plane of Ségala. Its name have the Occitan basis “Ségalar” which signify “Lands of rye”. During the XI century, the foundation of a chapel, dedicated to Sainte-Cécile placed under the protection of the order of the Hospitallers, shows the importance of the place. We have to notify restored and upgraded wrought-iron crosses at roads by the municipality, awarded in 2012 “Prix du Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication”.
This municipality, situated at exit of Cordes, in direction of Albi, was a the origin composed of two hamlets, Livers et Cazelles, which during the XIX century have merged. The name « cazelle » refers to ancient constructions in dry stone used as shelter for wine-growners and shepherds, also used as warehouse for tools. This village filled with charm and authenticity owns an architectural heritage composed of two churches restored by pasionate inhabitants.
Situated in the valley of Cérou, Marnaves streches on a little promontory with its beautiful stone houses, the church Saint-Médard and its washing place at the end of the XIX century. Farther, dominating the plains of Cordes, the imposing profile of the private castle of Roquereine (La Prune), mentioned from 1232, appears in the sky.
This village, situated on a promontory overhanging the valley of Cérou, was at the origin a outpost taking care of Cordes. The medieval castle, property of counts of Toulouse and lords of Penne was reworked in the XVI and XVIII centuries, houses now the city hall. It preserved some original elements (stairs, voult cellars and some rooms). During the XIX century, the two municipalities at the origin « Mouzieys » and « Panens » united. Moreover, the castle, the village shows a rich heritage : church Saint-Pierre, church Saint Michel, with its flamboyant gothic style, chapel and its « Piéta » in wood of the XIV century. You can find here also cazelles, ancient bread ovens, washing place, dovecotes, calvaries.
All the local flavours come from this village nestled in a meander of Aveyron at the gates of Ségala. In Ratayrens, a nearby hamlet, you can discover ancient houses, seigneurial mill dating from the beginning of the XVII century and also the church Saint Projet de Larroque.
Along the pathways which wind between box trees and junipers, you can discover springs, mills, caves and dolmens. In this village, the gothic church Notre-Dame of the XIII century, with its wall belfry with triangular pediment, its pure lines close to Norman and its sagas of Nicolaï Greschny, will seduce you.
Bordered by the peaceful waters of Cérou, the village of Saint-Marcel Campes, however, knew tribulations of History : in 1212, during the crusade against the Albigeois, this fortification acclaimed impregnable resisted the Simon de Montfort troops who, despite this, demolished it. It is said that survivors took refuge on the Puech de Mordagne, contributing to the foundation of Cordes, ten years later.
The castle, built under Blanche de Castille, between 1200 and 1250, was a fortification surrounded of four towers. The lord Lacombe de Saint Michel, general of Empire, was borned here in 1753 and died in 1812 after a superb career.
The municipality of Souel, situated on the plateau Cordais correspond to the land the most hard of the gaillacois vineyard. The medieval origin of this castrum was attested from the XV century, with the reconstruction of its castle. The edifice, now demolished, which occupied the central place of the village was besieged during the One Hundred Years War and religious wars. The name of Souel would come from occitant « soulel » (sun) or from latin « Suellius » which signify piglet.
The architectural heritage of Souel contains some restored elements : the church Notre-Dame de l’Assomption (XIV – XV centuries) graded Monument Historique, the church Saint-Martin de Sarmazes of the XIII century, cazelles in dry stone, washing places, dovecotes.
Walkers, be careful … On a street corner, an escaped laugh of « Eté de Vaour » can surprise you, where in former times the voices of the Templars resonated. The monk soldiers present approximately in 1140, have chosen this mound in sandstone and its strategic position to set up here one of their first Occident Commandery. Coincidence or volontary act, they built their « big house » on a site of a pre-celtic sacred place devoted to the cult water. Let you guide at the heart of remains of this edifice which comprised some building elements.
The picturesque village of Vindrac, ancient small fortress in forefront of Cordes, give amazing views on the gaillacois vineyard, the valley of Cérou, the Causses and the Cordais country. Its origin dates back a long time, as demonstrated the excavations carried out during the 80’s by the abbot Maurice Bessou which updated a rich archeological equipment : gallo-roman remains (sigillated ceramic, fragment of painted plaster and flat tiles) and site of Merovingian necropolis, one of the most important in the region Midi-Pyrénées. Some elements of heritage, graded Monuments Historiques, also are identified : the church Saint-Martin of the XV century or its enfeus/crypts, le Pont de la Bogne or « Pont des Ânes », la Croix des Fargues (XVe siècle), sculpted on its two sides and representing the Christ on the cross, the Virgin and Child surrounded by several saints.