This beautiful architectural site in Tarn et Garonne was founded in the seventh century. Several violent conflicts have damaged the building despite the fact that it was very well proctected. In 1030 the church roof collapsed, and in 1042 the Viscount of Lomange set fire to the monastic buildings. In 1063 a new Abbey church was consecrated by Cluniacs. The abbey became a major stage on the Via Poiensis, one of the major pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. This wealthy and important monastery had its greatest influence during the 11th and 12th centuries. Today the church's main features are its cloisters, which are said to be the oldest surviving cloisters with narrative capitals and the sculptures of the portal (particularly the trumeau - central door pillar) of the abbey church. 47 of the 76 cloisters illustrate themes from the lives of saints or the scriptures. They were sculpted and completed in 1110.
Bruniquel is full of stone-built houses, wooden houses with corbelling or half timbering, turrets, twin-arched and mullioned windows, arched doors and flower-bedecked streets. All these features are what makes the village so appealing and beautiful. The village was also a former stopping place on the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela where the areas of Quercy, Albigeois and Rouergue areas have also managed to preserve castles and ramparts. Bruniquel is a must see village for tourists as it has so many stunning features to discover. Visitors can also expect painting exhibitions, fishing contests, music festivals and theatre performances throughout the month of June.
Between Toulouse and Agen on the banks of the Garonne is the village of Auvillar. A stoping place on the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de la Compostela, Auvillar is revealed through one of 3 gateways that cut through its fortifications and leads to the square where a circular corn exchange can be admired. It's the only one of its kind in Southwest France which is what makes Auvillar so unique and definitely worth a visit.
Lauzerte is perched above the valleys and hills of Quercy Blanc. This fortified village was founded in the 12th century by the Count of Toulouse and is again one of the villages on the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. In the village there are lots of historical and religious traces of past times remaining intact. Just a few are the main square and its cobble stones, stone-built or half-timbered houses and the pilgrim's garden. In June there are events such as concerts and country heritage days for visitors to come along and enjoy.
The dovecotes are a symbol of the rural heritage of the South West and come in lots of different shapes. They were once a sign of wealth and prestige for the owners. The typical towers of one of two storeys were designed for rearing pigeons, with a view to eating their meat and using their droppings as fertiliser. Visible along the roads, paths and trails all around the Tarn et Garonne countryside, they are a wonderful part of the popular heritage.
The old Cistercian Abbey of Beaulieu was founded in 1144, by the Bishop of Rodez. Its located in the verdant Seye Valley in the commune of Ginals. First it was a place of prayer, then a farm after the revolution, before becoming a contemporary art centre in 1970. The Abbey is open to the public from April to October and is home to an important collection of modern artworks. It's full of architectural features, such as the Gothic-style abbey church, the chapter hosue and the cellar, which can be discovered on a tour of the centre. Visitors also have the chance to explore temporary exhibitions during the summer period.
A must see for tourists, near the Old Bridge is the Ingres Museum based in the old 17th century Episcopal Palace. The museum is dedicated to the works of the two famous artists bord in Montauban. The prestigious establishment contains remarkable collections of painting and drawings by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and also sculptures by Antoine Bourdelle. As well as these artist's work, the museum offers lapidary and archaeological collects and regular temporary exhibitions are hosted.
Standing at the edge of Gers and in the heart of Lomagne, is the Gramont Castle. It towers over a charming little village full of stone houses. It was once the property of Simon de Montford, leader of the crusade against the Albigensians. However, now this elegant residence is run by the centre for national monuments. Its past is remembered by a fortified medieval tower, a gatehouse in the Gothic style and a Renaissance wing with mullioned windows. A range of period furniture and art objects are featured inside. Beautiful views over the hills of Lomagne and a French-style garden complete the tour of this Castle. During the summer months music festivals and exhibitions can also be expected.