Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Something about Cordes...most beautiful French village!

It has been announced that the gorgeous medieval town of Cordes-Sur-Ciel is the 2014 winner of the Most Beautiful Village in France award.

And so here is some helpful village and regional information about the village Cordes-Sur-Ciel below and its surrounding region and beautiful sights. All courtesy of our Australian homeowners of La Maison Osieaux...our cosy quaint cottage available for holiday bookings in this very village - Cordes!! 

Our cottage (pictured above) is available to book so do enquire about it to us at: info@petitepr.com.au 

View it HERE on our website


About Cordes
Medieval magic in the sky

Cordes-sur-Ciel, located 75km north east of Toulouse, is one of the gems of the region, its unique 13th and 14th century Gothic houses are reminiscent of Renaissance Tuscany, and the cobbled streets, large Halle (open air marketplace) and stone buildings are evocative of an earlier era. 

About Cordes
Part 1: A history
Part 2: Village facilities near our cottage La Maison Oiseaux 
Part 3: Surrounding Region and sights
Part 4: Some Highlights
Part 5: The Markets

Part 1: A brief history: Cordes, the first bastide town built by Count Raimon VII of Toulouse in 1222, was constructed to protect the scattered population from conflict during the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars.  

Cordes grew quickly during the crusade, and so did the number of rampart walls surrounding the village. As hostilities reduced, prosperity came to Cordes with the growth of cloth, wool and leathercraft industries, alongside trade and finance. Wealthy merchant and noble families built the magnificent Gothic residences in the 13th and 14th centuries, for which Cordes is famous. 

Conflict and devastation, brought changes to economic situations and the plagues, saw the power and population of Cordes reduce by the start of the French Revolution, and the village went into a decline. 

In the late 19th century its fortunes revived as it became an important centre of the machine embroidery trade for 50 years. Then, in the 1940's, a group of artists, led by Yves Brayer, settled in Cordes and brought new life to the village. This artistic influence still thrives in Cordes today.  

There is also another renewal underway  today  as more people realise what a jewel this village is, undertaking the slow and arduous process of restoring many of the buildings, and ensuring the ongoing survival of this beautiful spot.  

The annual medieval festival of the Grand Fauconnier held on 13 & 14 July and Music sur Ciel, held in the Eglise Saint-Michel. Other festivals include gastronomic and Christmas fetes.  

In 1993 the town was renamed Cordes-sur-Ciel (Cordes in the sky) to reflect the illusion created by the mists settling in the valley below, of a village floating above the clouds.

Part 2: Village Facilities:
There is a weekly market on Saturday mornings in the lower town, on Place de la Bouteillerie. It always has a good range of seasonal fruit and vegetables, cheeses, fish, etc. If seeking a butcher, our homeowners suggest Chez Dennis, on av du 11 novembre 1918 , for his veal if nothing else. The best bread is at the La Pétrie Boulangerie, near the pharmacy. Take the trolley, walk down the hill to the market, and if the walk back up is too daunting, catch the Petit Train back up to Porte de Jane.

Cave St Michel in the cité provides a great range of wine and sound advice from Francis. There are good local restaurants as well; our homeowners have compiled a detailed information booklet which is available in the house on your arrival.  

With 3 cash machines, a bar in the lower town, 3 small supermarkets, a newsagent and a post office in addition to the butcher and baker, most needs of the visitor can be met close to our Maison in Cordes.

Near to the village you can find golf at Golf d'Albi Lasbordes or Golf de Florentin Gaillac, kayaking, fishing and a swimming pool (a small fee applies) in the camp site Le Garissou in Les Cabannes from June through to September, or else year round swimming at Espace Nautique Atlantis in Albi. 

Laguepie, 10km north of Cordes, has a swimming pontoon on the river Viaur in season, with a lovely picnic and play area. Nearby Monesties has a lake, and in/outdoor pools in Gaillac. 

In winter, you can go skiing an hour north, near Rodez. There are also many beautiful walking trails - for more information see sites such as Randonees Midi Pyrenees  or Rando-marche

Part 3: The Local Region - Tarn & The Midi Pyrenees

Our Australian homeowners have put together some information and list of things to do and see, where to eat in the surrounding region of Cordes-Sur-Ceil village, Tarn and the Midi-Pyrenees.

The Tarn is a region of long views and deep river gorges, fertile farmland, vineyards and forests. 

It is situated in the Midi-Pyrénées, the largest region in France with 8 departments within its boundary. 

The Tarn has escaped the worst of the tourist born scourges of appalling traffic, high prices and disappointing cuisine. Historical Albi is its major centre, providing the ancient name for the region – Albigeois. Many villages and towns stage summer festivals of music and medieval pageantry, celebrated for and by the local population, and a bonus for visitors.  

Medieval villages and churches dot the landscape of this farming region, replete with pigeonniers. Villages are built in local honey coloured stone, set on rolling hills offering long views of the varied landscape.  

The food of the region can be summed up in the classic work from Paula Wolfert, ‘The Cooking of South West France: Recipes from France’s Magnificent Rustic Cuisine’.  

Confit, cassoulet, magret de canard, foie gras and local cheeses are on offer along with more modern interpretations of dishes using the excellent local fresh ingredients. 

Veal from the nearby Aveyron and Ségala areas enjoys a reputation that extends far beyond France. Well known charcuterie comes from the mountainous Monts de Lacaune, and the pink garlic of Lautrec is referred to as the prince of seasonings.  

The local wine appellation is Gaillac. It is one of the oldest wine regions in the country, dating back to Roman times. Vineyards share the landscape with sunflowers, cornfields, hay and cereal crops.  

The region offers a rich, diverse history, combined with its distinctive architectural gems, all waiting to be discovered.

The wonderful Cathedral Sainte-Cecile in Albi, with its fortress like exterior, displays the power and authority of the Church in its medieval heyday. What a contrast to the modern structural icon in the form of the Millau Bridge over the Tarn Gorge, the perfect combination of engineering, sculpture and architecture!  

Part 4: Some Highlights:
  • Albi: At the heartland of the Albigeois with its magnificent brick cathedral and Museum of Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi is a now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

  •  Bruniquelwith its interesting chateau, lovely village, reached via a beautiful drive through the gorge. 

  • Cahors for its 14th century fortified Valentré bridge and the spectacular Lot Gorges
  • Castres has a Spanish art museum including some Goya and Velasquez, in the Hotel de Ville
  • Carcassonne, restored walled city famed for its turrets and narrow windy streets
  • Laguiole is famous for its elegant knives with their distinctive bone, horn or wooden handles 

  • Najac has an ancient fortified tower with wonderful views across the forested countryside. 
  • Millau sits below the spectacular bridge, near to the Roquefort cheese caves.
  • St Antonin-Noble-Val is remarkable for its Tuscan style medieval buildings, and a lively weekly market. 
  • Toulouse, a great city on the Garonne, is an ancient university town, also centre of the French aerospace industry. 

Part 5: Markets  
A particular pleasure of staying in a home is the ability to cook the wonderful produce sold at the regular markets held throughout France. 

There are many excellent markets worth a visit, starting with the Saturday morning market in Cordes.

Other markets of note can be found in these nearby spots:  
St Antonin Noble Val – Sundays
Laguépie – Wednesdays
Caussade – Mondays
Moissac - Saturday, Sunday
Montauban Wednesday, Saturday
Cahors – Saturday and Wednesday
Albi- a vegetable market every morning except Monday, a poultry market Saturday mornings, a domestic animal market Saturday mornings, a used bookmarket on Wednesdays and an arts and crafts market on Saturdays (except January through March).
Limogne - truffle market Friday mornings December to March
Lalbenque’s market features truffles on Tuesdays December to March.

Some useful links:

Our cottage in Cordes is available to book so do enquire about it to us at: info@petitepr.com.au 

View it HERE on our website

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