CAHORS > RODEZ
07/26/2023 - Stage 4 - 177,5 km - Hilly
On the road
Departments: Ariège, Aude, Aveyron, Gard, Haute-Garonne, Gers, Hérault, Lot, Lozère, Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne.
Population: 5.9 million
Surface area: 72,724 km2
Specialities: foie gras, cassoulet, aligot, tielle from Sète, cod brandade, Tarbes beans, garbure, sweet onions, Céret cherries, wines (Pic Saint-Loup, Corbières, Cahors, Costières de Nîmes, blanquette de Limoux, Minervois, Tavel, Madiran). Perrier spring water.
Sports clubs: Stade Toulousain, Castres Olympique, Montpellier HR, USAP Perpignan (rugby union), Montpellier HSC, Nîmes Olympique, Toulouse FC (football), Dragons Catalans (rugby league), Montpellier Handball, Fenix Toulouse, USAM Nîmes-Gard (handball)
Competitions: Tour de France, Open Sud de France (tennis), Route d'Occitanie (cycling).
Economy: aeronautics and space (Airbus, Ariane, Toulouse), defence, IT, nuclear, agri-food, agriculture (wine, cereals) tourism, pharmaceutical industry. Universities (Montpellier, Toulouse).
Festivals: férias in Nîmes and Béziers, Rio Loco (Toulouse), Radio France Festival in Montpellier (classical), Comédie du Livre (book fair, Montpellier), Electro Beach (Port Barcarès), Jazz in Marciac, Cinémed (Montpellier), Circa Auch, Noir Novel Festival in Frontignan.
Sights: Cité de Carcassonne, Lourdes basilica, Toulouse (Capitole, Saint-Sernin, pink city), Montpellier (Place de la Comédie, Écusson), beaches, Pont du Gard, Nîmes amphitheatre, Cathar castles, Canal du Midi, cathedrals of Albi, Castres and Rodez. Millau Viaduct, Niaux and Maz d'Azil caves. Valentré Bridge in Cahors. Character villages. Beaches in Aude, Gard and Hérault. Ski resorts in the Pyrenees and Ariège.
Surface area: 5,217 km²
Number of communes: 313 communes
Prefecture: Cahors (population: 21,000)
Sub-prefectures: Figeac and Gourdon
Specialities: many local products are registered under an official sign of quality (AOP, AOC, IGP and red label): Cahors wine, Coteaux du Quercy wines, Lot wine, Quercy saffron, South-West duck foie gras, Quercy melons, Quercy farm lamb, black truffles, rocamadour cheese, walnuts. The pastis quercynois (a cake, not a drink!) Mique levée (thick leavened pastry cooked over a low heat in a broth with vegetables and a little salt).
Economy: four major sectors: electrical engineering (Cahors group), aeronautics (Ratier Figeac, Figeac Aéro), mechanical engineering (Figeac/Saint-Céré industrial arc), agri-food (historic headquarters of Andros at Biars-sur-Cère). The Lot is also home to a host of small businesses at the cutting edge of innovation, including Whylot (in Cambes), which is designing the engines of tomorrow; Soben (in Cahors), which is inventing its made-in-the-Lot delivery robot; and Pivaudran (in Souillac), a manufacturer of luxury metal packaging for the perfume and cosmetics industries, Thiot ingénierie (shock physics laboratory) in Puybrun, ITHPP (specialist in high-power pulsed systems) in Thégra, M2I biocontrol in Parnac (European leader in the production of biological solutions for plant and crop protection using pheromones)...
Heritage: the Lot has 420 protected sites and monuments, and a well-preserved rural heritage. Emblematic sites include the legendary Valentré Bridge in Cahors (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago de Compostela). The medieval town of Rocamadour is a tiny village with a worldwide reputation. Three major sites in Occitanie: Rocamadour-Vallée de la Dordogne, Figeac-Vallées du Lot et du Célé, Cahors-Vallée du Lot. Renowned underground sites: Padirac, the largest chasm in France, which can be visited via the underground river, and Pech-Merle decorated cave, one of France's leading centres of cave art. Villages of Saint-Cirq Lapopie (named one of France's favourite villages), Autoire, Loubressac, Cardaillac, Carennac and Capdenac-le-Haut are all listed among France's most beautiful villages.
Sport: Cahors International Urban Trials (20,000 spectators): event organised in the town centre. The Easter Tournament in Cahors brings together a large number of youth football teams from all over France Lacapelle-Marival hosted the world motocross championship (MXGP) in October 2021, on its international circuit. The Lot is a paradise for cyclists (road and mountain bikes). On the competitive side, the Vayrac Criterium is the must-see post-Tour de France event. Finally, the Lot is ideal for outdoor sports (canoeing, climbing, caving, via ferrata, cave diving, etc.). The "Dordogne Intégrale", an extreme long-distance canoe-kayak and stand-up paddle race, takes place on the wild course of the Lot's Dordogne every year. Ultra Trail Causse et Vallées Lot Dordogne.
Culture and festivals: Saint-Céré festival (opera), Rencontres cinéma in Gindou, Cahors blues festival, Souillac en jazz, Ecaussystème in Gignac (contemporary music), Africajarc (world music), Figeac theatre festival, Lot of Saveurs in Cahors (gastronomy), Rocamadour festival (sacred music). Figeac is home to the Musée des Ecritures and a giant reproduction of the Rosetta Stone, deciphered by Jean-François Champollion (a native of the town), and Souillac, the Musée de l'Automate.
Websites and social networks:
Department of Lot
The spectacular town of Rocamadour, the legendary Valentré bridge in Cahors, the jewel of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie (favourite village of the French) and the impressive chasm of Padirac: behind these famous postcards lies the Lot, a jewel case on a human scale with a preserved environment (a major reservoir of biodiversity with natural areas covering 70 pc of the territory and a sky free of light pollution). With its white Quercy, green Bouriane and hilly Ségala, this department with its Occitan accent, irrigated by the Lot and Dordogne rivers, has many facets. And synonymous with Cahors wine, the dry stones of the Causses, truffles and confits...
Here you can live well, here you can feel good. And we always have, as witnessed by the decorated caves (Pech Merle), the Gallo-Roman remains (the battle of Uxellodunum took place here), the many castles from the Middle Ages and the typical villages.
People come from far and wide to visit the Lot. So why not live in these holiday resorts full time? Why not take advantage all year round of the hiking trails, panoramic views, friendly markets, bastides and, when the season comes, mountain biking spots, boating on the Lot, kayaking on the Dordogne or the Célé, or fly fishing or night carp fishing? The Lot's industries are recruiting in the aeronautics sector, innovating in cutting-edge sectors (electrical and electronic engineering) and expanding in the food industry (jam-making, palm-farming).
The "Oh my Lot!" network offers personalised support for setting up in the department.
Information on https://www.choisirlelot.fr/
Douelle used to be a major trading port in the Lot Valley, and in centuries gone by the village streets were teeming with coopers, gabariers and innkeepers... Today, Douelle is known as the "Port du Vignoble de la Vallée du Lot" (Port of the Lot Valley Vineyards). Shaped by the river, the Quercy limestone plateaux and the vineyards, Douelle offers visitors a wide range of outdoor activities. Economist Jean Fourastié, who died in Douelle in 1990, coined the term "Les Trente Glorieuses" ("The Glorious Thirty (the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s)").
Mur 2 Douelle
From the end of June to the end of September 1992, the artist Didier Chamizo created the Mur 2 Douelle, a contemporary work that retraces the epic of Cahors wine in two ways: on the mythological side, featuring the pantheon of the Olympian gods, and on the historical side, detailing the chronology of wine throughout our history. This masterpiece is 120-m long and 6-m high, making it the largest mural in Europe.
The village is linked to the story of Olympe de Gouges, a pioneer of feminism who was beheaded in 1793 by Robespierre for demanding gender equality and democracy. During her turbulent life, she is said to have taken refuge in the village, located near the Château de Caix, which belonged to her father, who never recognised her (see Luzech).
Situated on a peninsula surrounded by a loop of the River Lot, Luzech is a small town with a remarkable historical and wine-growing heritage. The remains of an ancient MH listed oppidum reveal the ancient settlement on this site, the keep, the only vestige of the town's former castle, bears witness to the importance of the Barons of Luzech (see also the Consuls' house), while Château de Caïx, once owned by the natural father of Olympe de Gouges, is now a residence and wine estate of the Danish royal family.
The Armand Viré museum is an archaeological museum with an "ichnospace", an area displaying dinosaur footprints.
Château de Caïx
Construction: 15th century.
Style: medieval and composite.
History: attested to as a stronghold as early as the 14th century, the château became the property of the Lefranc family, notables from Cahors and Montauban, the most famous of whom was poet and academician Jean-Jacques Lefranc de Pompignan (1709-1784), who is said to have been the father of Olympe de Gouges. It was probably originally a fortress built to control and pay for navigation on the Lot. Built into the rock on the hillside, it dominates one of the river's many meanders, close to the hamlet of the same name and the commune of Luzech, of which it is a part. Constantly enlarged and converted over the centuries, it has become a vast ashlar mansion, and is now the French residence of the Royal Family of Denmark.
Current destination: in 1975, the château became the property of Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark, and her husband Prince Henrik of Denmark (born Henri de Laborde de Monpezat), whose family ties are in Lot. This wine estate, which produces top-quality Cahors, is also the summer residence of the Danish royal family. The Queen and her husband organise concerts here, sometimes in aid of charitable causes. Since 2014, the Prince Consort of Denmark has been exhibiting a remarkable collection of African and Asian primitive art at the Château.
Construction: 13th century.
History and features: this is the keep of the former seigniorial castle of Luzech. It wasn't until the 11th century that the lords of the domain, the Barons of Luzech, built a real fortress on the plateau and surrounded the village with ramparts. During the confrontation between Richard the Lionheart and Philip Augustus, the castle fell into the hands of the English and was not retaken until much later. Once under the control of the Cathars, the village and fortress came under attack from the Crusaders, and Simon de Montfort ordered the site burnt down. Once the Albigensian crisis was over, the estate was acquired by Guillaume de Cardaillac, Bishop of Cahors. The Luzech and Cardaillac families became joint lords.
Listed as: historical monument in 1908.
MERCUÈS (Pop: 1,140)
This wine-growing village near Cahors boasts two châteaux listed as Historical Monuments: Château de Mercuès, now a Relais et Châteaux establishment, and Château des Bouysses (a former 13th-century priory).
Construction: 13th to 17th centuries.
Style: Medieval and Renaissance.
History and characteristics: a stronghold occupied since the 7th century, it was converted during the Renaissance into a residential château for the Counts-Bishops of Cahors, who constantly embellished the site until the dawn of the 20th century. Transformed into a hotel residence in the 1940s, it was one of the first jewels in the crown of the Relais & Châteaux chain. Its owner at the time, aircraft manufacturer Georges Héreil, was the father of the Caravelle aircraft. When he died, Georges Vigouroux, one of the pioneers of the renaissance of Cahors wines, bought it. He resurrected the Mercuès vineyard, which had been completely destroyed by phylloxera at the end of the 19th century, and installed exceptional cellars under the château, dug out of the open air beneath the terraces of the château at the cost of Pharaonic works.
Trivia: the Château de Mercuès was the location for the film Holidays starring Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Josiane Balasko and Judith Godrèche.
Listed as: historical monument in 1947.
Prefecture of Lot (46)
Population: 20,000 (Cadurciens and Cadurciennes), 41,700 in the 36 communes of the Grand Cahors Agglomeration Community, 174,000 in the Lot department.
Personalities: Léon Gambetta (politician), Clément Marot (poet), Fabien Galthié (captain then coach of the French rugby team), Charles Dumont (singer)
Specialities: Duck in all its forms, Quercy lamb, black truffles, Rocamadour cheese, Quercy melon, walnuts, saffron, Cahors wines
Sport: Cahors Lot XIII (rugby league, Nationale 2). Sportsman: Fabien Galthié (rugby union, international and current coach of the French national team). Facilities: 360 hectares of playing surfaces, including 14 team sports pitches, 6 sports halls, 3 dojos and 15 tennis courts. Events: Quercy car rally. By bike: 28 km of cycle lanes and shared streets, bike parks near the car parks. A greenway is being prepared that will run through the town and conurbation along the Lot valley.
Heritage: Valentré bridge and its three fortified towers over the Lot (14th century), Saint-Étienne cathedral (12th century) listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Henri Martin museum, covered market (19th century)
Festivals: Cahors Blues Festival
Economy: Winegrowing, administration, services, Cahors Sud business park, directly connected to the A20, home to 74 companies in the logistics, transport, industry, agri-food, trade and construction sectors. Four commercial zones, two craft and industrial zones. Tourism
Labels: Town and Country of Art and History, UNICEF Child-Friendly Town, Terre de Jeux 2024 label
Websites: cahorsagglo.fr, lot.fr
The "borie" at Savagnac, a former country manor house dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, is well worth a visit. The building was listed as a historical monument in 1993.
SAINT-GÉRY-VERS (Pop: 900)
Formed in 2016 from the merger of the communes of Saint-Géry and Vers.
Church of Notre-Dame de Velles
Construction: 12th to 19th centuries.
History and characteristics: in 965, the church is cited as San Stéphani de Villa. The eastern part of the church does not seem to predate the third quarter of the 12th century. A capital in the choir depicting the martyrdom of Saint Stephen seems to confirm that the church was dedicated to Saint Stephen from the time it was built. In 1480, the church's administration commissioned a large bell from a founder in Cahors. The nave of the church was restored in the 19th century. The western façade was completely rebuilt and the nave was given a barrel vault.
Listed as: Historical Monument in 1913.
Like many villages in Lot, Bouziès boasts a rich prehistoric heritage - the Christian cave and the Carriot cave, both listed as Historical Monuments – and two small châteaux, including the 15th-century Condat "borie", listed as a Historical Monument in 1987.
Situated on the Via Podensis, one of the main routes to Santiago de Compostela, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie was the first village to be crowned "Favourite Village of the French" in 2012. In 1920, neo-Impressionist painter Henri Martin came to live here and painted a number of pictures that made the village so popular that in the 1950s, André Breton was so taken with the place that he set up his summer residence in Henri Martin's former home, the Auberge des Mariniers (Mariners Inn). Spanish painter Pierre Daura also settled in Saint-Cirq in the 1920s. The house where he lived until his death in 1976, befriending André Breton, has become a centre for contemporary art.
The church of Saint-Cirq-et-Sainte-Juliette has also been listed since 1911.
The village has been organising a triathlon since 2022.
André Breton House, Auberge des Mariniers
Construction: 14th century.
History: the house dates from the 14th century. It was owned by painter Henri Martin, who died in 1943. André Breton bought it in 1951. Around him and his wife Elisa, the house was home to the surrealistic movement's leading figures, including Benjamin Péret, Max Ernst, Toyen, Man Ray, Radovan Ivšić, Adrien Dax and Robert Benayoun, as well as a wide range of personalities from the world of culture, including Juliette Gréco, Taos Amrouche and Ted Joans. Gathered together as a collective, the artists invented post-war Surrealism, giving free rein to literary creation (magazines, publications), Surrealist games and the organisation of the international exhibitions EROS (1959) and Écart absolu (1965).
Characteristics: André Breton’s House – also known as Auberge des Mariniers (Mariners Inn) or Henri Martin House – is the oldest building in the village. The tower was built in the 12th century, while the main building was begun in the 13th century and completed in the 14th. The house is built entirely of rubble stone, with ashlar door and window frames. Knights lived here in the Middle Ages, justifying the defensive function of the building, which blends in with the fortifications of Saint-Cirq. The nature of the house gradually changed, becoming an inn frequented by sailors coming up to the village from the Lot, earning it its nickname.
Listed as: Historical Monument in 1923.
Born in the nearby village of Cajarc (km 80.4), Françoise Sagan is buried in the Seuzac cemetery in the commune of Larnagol. The author of Bonjour Tristesse, one of the most famous French novelists of the 20th century, who died in 2004, is buried here alongside her parents, her husband Robert Westhoff and Peggy Roche, her partner of fifteen years, who died in 1991.
Françoise Sagan, whose real name was Françoise Quoirez, was born in Cajarc in 1935 into a family of wealthy industrialists from the Lot region. Her schooling was turbulent, and she often changed private schools. In 1951, after failing her baccalauréat, she enrolled at the Sorbonne. It was there that she rubbed shoulders with bourgeois Parisian youth, partying and drinking. In the summer of 1953, at the age of 18, she wrote Bonjour tristesse. It was a resounding success. Swept up by success and money, Sagan, a great lover of sports cars, was involved in a car accident in 1957 that left her between life and death for several days. She became dependent on medication, alcohol and drugs, but this did not prevent her from continuing to enjoy great success in the book trade.
In 1958, she married publisher Guy Schoeller, twenty years her senior. They divorced in 1960, and she remarried two years later to an American model, Robert Westhoff (1930-1990). They had a son, Denis Westhoff, in 1962. The couple soon divorced but continued to live together before separating in 1972.
In 1985, invited by François Mitterrand on an official trip to Bogota, she fell into a coma. In 1988, she was charged with using and transporting narcotics (heroin and cocaine). She stopped writing after her novel The Lost Mirror published in 1996. She hit the headlines in both the social and legal spheres with drug-related cases in 1995 and tax fraud in the Elf affair in 2002. Convicted and destitute, she was taken in by her friend and last companion, Ingrid Mechoulam, and died in 2004.
Construction: 18th century
History: in 1638, François de Cazilhac, Baron of Cessac, sold the land of Larnagol, along with two ruined castles, to Pierre de Laporte, who belonged to an old family of magistrates from Figeac. The Laporte family retained the Lordship of Larnagol until the French Revolution. Jean de Laporte, Pierre Laporte's grandson, undertook the construction of a new château between 1705 and 1729. His son, Étienne-Alexandre de Laporte, continued and completed the construction in the 1780s. The château was divided up when the commune acquired the "upper château" in 1870. The "lower château" became the property of the Saint-Chamarand family, then the Gimberge family, a family of local winegrowers, until it was purchased in 1924 by the Parisian ironmonger Raymond Subes.
Listed as: historical monument in 2001.
Cajarc is part of the Causses du Quercy Regional Nature Park, which has been a UNESCO World Geopark since 2017. It was made popular by Coluche's sketch Le Schmilblick, in which a certain Papy Mougeot appears on holiday in Cajarc. It is also the birthplace of writer Françoise Sagan (see Larnagol). This small old town is a pleasant holiday resort, with many picturesque old houses and the ruins of a 13th-century château. Former French President Georges Pompidou (1969-1974) was a local councillor from 1965 to 1969. He owned a property in the hamlet of Prajoux, on the Causse plateau, where he used to spend time with his family. Pimp Madame Claude also owned a sheepfold there (bought from former minister Olivier Guichard), where she took her "girls" to rest.
Maison de l'Hébrardie
Construction: 13th century
History: the Maison de l'Hébrardie is what remains of the former palace of the Hébrard de Saint-Sulpice family, lords of Cajarc, Saint-Sulpice, and Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, several of whose members were bishops. In the 18th century, the abandoned palace was used as a stone quarry and has partly disappeared.
Characteristics: a rectangular, two-storey building over a basement remains, which may have served as a connecting gallery between buildings that were destroyed. The façade facing the courtyard has four three-lobed windows on the first floor. The lower floor has three geminated windows dating from the 13th century. The façade facing the street also has two geminated windows on the first floor. A cellar perpendicular to the building extends under the courtyard. It has a pointed barrel vault reinforced by double arches. Under the building is a cellar with a pointed barrel vault.
Listed as: Historical Monument in 1924.
The ruins of a major Benedictine monastery, Lantouy Abbey, were listed as a Historical Monument in 2009.
Sub-prefectures: Millau, Villefranche-de-Rouergue
Surface area: 8735 km²
Specialities: Aligot, Estofinade, Roquefort, Fleur d'Aubrac (meat), Aveyron veal, spit-roasted cake, Farcous, Truffade, Fouace, soleil de marcillac, Tripous, cheese soup, Flaune aveyronnaise ...
Main sports clubs: Rodez Aveyron Football (D2), CSO Millau, Team Focus Aveyron VTT, Vélo 2000 Onet, Vélo Club Laissac
Sports events: Roc Laissagais (27th edition), Trans Aubrac (trail and ultra-trail), Rallye du Rouergue (45th edition), La marmotte d'Olt (sportive, 22nd edition), Natural Games, Course Eiffage du Viaduc de Millau en Aveyron, 100 km de Millau (long-distance foot race), Festival des Templiers (trail), L'Aveyronnaise Classic (enduro)
Heritage: Soulages Museum, Millau Viaduct, Conques Abbey, Roquefort cellars, Lévézou Lakes, Aubrac Plateau
Festivals: Nocturnes of Conques (May to October), Pueblo latino in Arvieu (12 and 13 June), Roquefort Fair in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon (13 and 14 June), Sylvanès Music Festival (sacred music, 14 July to 25 August), Jean le Fol in Séverac d'Aveyron (sound and light show, 30 July to 7 August), Hier un village à Flagnac (son et lumière, 23, 24, 30, 31 July and 1, 6, 7 August), Millau en Jazz (12-18 July 2020), Estivada in Rodez (Interregional festival of Occitan culture, 23 to 25 July).
Economy: Cattle market in Laissac Séverac l'église (2nd largest market in France), University of Rodez, Bosch (1,600 people), RAGT (1,261 people), Caves de Roquefort (1,210 people), etc.
Website / FB / Twitter: www.aveyron.fr / www.tourisme-aveyron.com / https://twitter.com/dept_aveyron / https://twitter.com/tous_en_aveyron / https://www.facebook.com/departement.aveyron / https://www.facebook.com/TourismeAveyron
The commune boasts three listed dolmens and the spectacular
Construction: 12th century
History: it was founded in 1124 by monks from Dalon Abbey (which became Cistercian in 1162). Burnt down in 1411, it was rebuilt and fortified. Five monks remained in 1768. It was closed during the French Revolution. After being abused for agricultural purposes, it was bought in 1812 by the Cibiel family from Villefranche-de-Rouergue, whose descendants still occupy it today.
Characteristics: saved from ruin and consolidated, it still offers the astonishing spectacle of a fortress, enclosed on one side by the church and housing at its heart a chapter house and cloister surrounded by a profusion of flowers. The building was restored at the end of the 19th century by architect Paul Gout.
Trivia: in 1940, during the debacle, the most beautiful paintings from the Louvre, including Mona Lisa, stopped off at Loc-Dieu for a summer. But with the onset of winter and the damp, conditions were no longer conducive to proper conservation, and the works had to be moved to Montauban.
Special features: the highly original park owes a great deal to Jean Darcel, a close relative of the Cibiel family who was instrumental in creating the Buttes-Chaumont park, the Monsouris park and the Grande Cascade in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. The abbey and its 40-hectare park, owned by the Masson-Bachasson de Montalivet family, descendants of the Cibel family, are now open to visitors.
Listed as: Historical Monument in 1989.
Church of Sainte-Croix
Construction: 15th century
History and features: The church belongs to two periods. The single nave was extended by two aisles at the end of the 15th century. The bell tower-dungeon was designed, from base to top, to serve as a defence and refuge for the population. The tower had five habitable storeys, separated by floors. The sixth storey was used for defence, with machicolations corbelled in on all four sides and around the spiral staircase. The first bay of the church, forming an apse, is the ground floor of the bell tower.
Listed as: Historical Monument in 1931.
Villeneuve, along with Najac, Villefranche-de-Rouergue, Sauveterre-de-Rouergue and La Bastide-l'Évêque, is one of five bastides in the department. It is one of a series of medieval "new towns" characterised by innovative urban planning, all located close to the neighbouring department of Lot. These bastides were built in the 13th and 14th centuries to cope with the strong demographic growth in the region. A total of 315 were built over a 150-year period, between 1229 and 1373.
The town's architectural heritage includes nine buildings protected as historical monuments: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, listed in 1925, the Cardalhac gateway, listed in 1928, the Soubirane tower, listed in 1928, a house, listed in 1928, the Château de Ginals, listed in 1980, the Church of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul, listed in 1988, the Villeneuve priory, listed in 1996, the Château de Toulongergues, listed in 1997, and the Foirail dovecote, listed in 2011.
Church of Saint-Sépulcre de Villeneuve
Construction: 11th to 16th centuries.
History and characteristics: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was founded in 1073. It was the result of a vow made by Odile de Morlhon during his pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1053 with his wife Cécile. It was then used as a priory, taken over in 1070 by the Abbey of Saint-Pierre de Moissac, of which the chapter house remains. The church was in the form of a rotunda, set in a Greek cross, topped by a dome with oculi, and modelled on the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. An octagonal tower stands above the roundabout in the Romanesque part of the church. It was enlarged in the 14th century, either as a result of the ruin of the choir, or because its dimensions were no longer sufficient. Three chapels were built on each side. As they are not identical, they were probably not built at the same time.
The central bell tower was remodelled and raised in 1882.
Listed as: Historical Monument in 1931.
Belcastel (in the Occitan meaning of "great castle") was part of the ancient province of Rouergue and is now a member of the association of the Most Beautiful Villages in France.
The town's architectural heritage includes two buildings protected as historical monuments: Château de Belcastel, listed in 1928, and the Old Bridge, listed in 1928. Architect Fernand Pouillon, one of the great builders of the post-war period (notably the reconstruction of the port of Marseille), died at Château de Belcastel in 1985. Star chef Cyril Lignac completed his apprenticeship at Nicole Fagegaltier's Restaurant du Vieux Pont (one Michelin star).
Château de Belcastel
Construction: 8th to 20th centuries.
History: the site may have Roman origins, and its purpose was to protect the valley from invasion. Château de Belcastel began life as a simple chapel in the 8th century. The castle's history came to an abrupt end in the early 17th century when it was abandoned and left in ruins. In 1972, famous architect Fernand Pouillon discovered the remains and decided to restore them to their former glory. Over eight years of uninterrupted work, he brought the château back to life as his main residence.
Current destination: although the château remains a private residence, its current owner, American gallery owner Helen Leigh, invites the public to visit both a historical monument and a major art gallery.
Listed as: historical monument in 1928.