Monday, 30 July 2012

Cites and Castles of the Rouergue

Airbus are a smooth operator and as such, organize bus tours every Sunday for their customers.

This Sunday it was to the Cites and Castles of the Rouergue. The bus picked a group of us up outside our hotel and then we were of on the toll roads on a North East direction passing Montauban though the picturesque country side.

In the distance on the hills you could see little settlements with the church steeples poking above the rooflines. There were also these random towers in the middle of these fields. Our guide told us that were used to house pigeons, to collect their droppings so that they could use it as fertilizer. Not used these days of course.

Our first stop was the medieval village of Caylus. The main street is at the top of the hill with the village sort of tumbling down the side to the valley below.

Like all cities there is a square, and the narrow streets go off in all directions. I split up from the tour group as we didn't have much time, and I knew I would see more by myself, and I also like to take lots of photos of random things like this house covered in birds and butterflies.

It was obvious that the church was built early on in the foundation of the city as a lot of the other buildings seemed to be built up around it without too much order.

This is an arch that links a building to the church. The church looked pretty standard from the outside but it had the most amazing stained glass windows

I continued to explore at pace as I made my way down to the valley to a lake that had a playground and was surrounded by trees. From here I took what I was sure was a short cut, as I needed to get back to the bus. I was right of course and got to the bus just in time.

The bus wound its way to our next stop which was the Royal Bastide of Villefranche de Rouergue. This was built as a modern town during the middle ages in 1250. What made it modern, was the fact that they did a bit of planning and all the streets run parallel and perpendicular. However , the streets are still very narrow. People still drive through these streets, but you could not do it in anything but a small car.

The Cathedral has a street going through the entrance way and the base of the Cathedral extends into the square.

The Cathedral took quite a few hundred years to build, and looking at it you can see that the lower part of it is more weathered than the upper. We slowly made our way down to the river and across to where we would have lunch. On the bridge there was a modern statue that seemed to fit right into place.

There was a market on the other side selling amazing bread. It is not often that I curse my Celiac disease, but everyone was raving about the bread. We had lunch in a restaurant overlooking the river.

That's our restaurant with the red roof.
Back to the bus and I had to stop myself taking photos of all the narrow streets, they looked so cool, like something out of a fairy tale book.

The next stop was to the medieval city and castle of Najac. The bus could only take us so far as the streets were too narrow. From the top of the hill the village followed the ridge that was curved as it followed the Averyron river.

I'm use to seeing roof lines like this in Chch, but for a different reason. You could not see the Castle until you came to a bend and then all of a sudden there it was.

Now I hate to disappoint Penelope, but this Castle was built for defending the Lord more than for throwing a ball, finding true love and getting married to your Prince. The main part of the castle was built in 1100. The round keep was built a hundred years later.

The Castle was in pretty bad shape, but most of the damage was done in the 16th century by people raiding the stone work to build their own houses.

You could climb to the top of the keep (119 steps Dad) and from there you were rewarded with wonderful views down to the valley below. It also highlighted the village clung to the ridgeline.

Sadly it was time to go, but not before I got myself a well earned icecream as even though today was a lot cooler, it was still 28C.

The country side on the way back was just as spectacular and you soon became numb to all the beautiful villages surrounded by vineyards. There were more medieval towns with castles, but we did not have time to stop and look at them all.

I will have to take The Family (and visitors) back to see them one day.


No comments:

Post a Comment