Cordes sur Ciel or is it heavens on Cordes!

So, in continuing my travels in my belle France, let me tell you about an area we love ,not just because it is beautiful, or popular but we have been there with the family and the father’s side of my wife are all from the region.  Of course, I love it too. Let me tell you on a hard raining day of Easter and at home holiday, on the wonderful incredible little town of Cordes sur Ciel.

I like to bring you into the city of Cordes sur Ciel.. The city is in the department of Tarn No. 81 in the region of Occitanie. It was built in the year 1222 by Count Raymond VII of Toulouse as a place of Cathars( The idea of two Gods or principles, one being good and the other evil, was central to Cathar beliefs opposed by the Catholic Church,) on a medieval laidout of narrow and steep streets from which high above it you can see the wonderful valley of the Cérou. It is a grand site of the region on the route to Saint James/Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage.

cordes sur ciel

On the road N122 on the left bank of the Cérou river tributary of the Aveyron you are in about 1h15 from Toulouse. The local roads are good but a bit narrow, on the D600 by Vindrac to Albi, and the D922 links the town with Gaillac and connects with the A680 to Toulouse, the one we like to take. There is a train station at Vindrac at about 5 km and local taxis make the run to Cordes.

A bit of history I like. As mentioned, in 1222, the Count Raymond VII gives the chapter of a town to the place called Peuch de Mordagne and by 1229 the treaty of Paris already mentioned Cordes as a stronghold of the Albigeois (proche of Albi another name for the Cathars). During this treaty of Paris of 1229, Jeanne daughter of Raymond VII of Toulouse married in 1241 Alphonse de Poitiers ,brother of king Louis IX. The Count of Toulouse up to them autonomous is attached to the crown of France on the death of Alphonse II and Jeanne in 1271. Cordes never conquered becomes land of the kingdom of France in 1370.

Follow by a golden age period and the construction of many mansions in the gothic style,from the end of the 13C to the middle of the 14C ,with an architectural unity to the bastide allowing to be called the city of the hundreds gothic arches or the Cité aux Cent Ogives with another splendid period from the 14C to the 16C. Hardly touch in the following wars the city has kept its architectural and medieval ambiance of always. During the French revolution, the city was named Cordes-la-Montagne to take away the Ciel or heaven part of the name! Albert Camus after visiting the city in the 1950’s said of it « At Cordes all is beautiful even the disappointments “ or  À Cordes, tout est beau, même le regret.  The city is officially named Cordes-sur-Ciel in 1993.

I have done a blog post on the city on the touristic sites so will name them briefly here on the whole. Here is my post on Cordes

Briefly on the things to see in Cordes sur Ciel and with many additions to those exposed in my blog post are:

The city is surrounded by four ramparts and many gates such as the porte des Ormeaux, porte de la Jane or the porte de l’Horloge. It has a well on the market that is about 114 meters deep. The house of the great hunter or the maison du Grand Veneur is a big house in  sandstone with a façade in three levels , been one of the most sculpture of the city. The mairie or city hall is at the house or maison Fonpeyrouse. The Chapelle du Saint Crucifix de Cordes sur Ciel, and the Cross or Croix de Cordes sur Ciel. The most important Church is that of Saint Michael or Saint Michel in a meridional gothic style done mostly in the 13C and some renovations in the 15C. The bell tower is from the 14C , the interior has renaissance frescoes and several paintings. You can drive to the village of Pied Haut where you can see the bastide town and a great view of the town emerging from the clouds.

cordes sur ciel

Others are the Convent of the Capucins of Gaillac, done in 1600 located in the chemin des Capucins ,rue La Peyrade. Since 1826 is given to the community of Sisters of Saint Joseph d’Oulias (Rhône). Since 1975 is the principal home of the community of Bliss or the Communauté des Béatitudes , the old community of the Lion of Juda and the Sacrificial Lamb. It has been recently said that the building is for sale! The paradise garden or Jardin du Paradis is on the first fortified terraces of the city with water pumps, flower carpets and exotic essences on the oriental influence ; each year there is something different for the visitor.

cordes sur ciel maison du grand ecuyer now hotel resto gastro

There is a sugar and chocolate museum or musée du sucre et du chocolat. Inside you will see several creations of art done with the sugar on different themes going from the middle ages to the technologies. It is right in front of the big covered market. In the Maison du Grand Fauconnier (Falconer), it houses the museum of modern and contemporary art or the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, offering a unique contrast with the historical architectural heritage and the artistic creation  showing the styles of different movements with collections from the 20C.  An unique museum we like very much is the Charles Portal history and architecture museum or the Musée Charles Portal Histoire et Architecture that is house in the gate of the porte des Ormeaux, a medieval  building. The Cordes architecture is explained by showing historical items such as sculpture falcons, the former gate of the city hall from the 16C, locks etc of the period; there is a film showing the depths of the market well, and the collections of Cordes are shown as well as the region from pre history to the 16C with pretty items from the gallo roman, merovingians, and medieval periods. From the terrace you have nice views over the fields and the old streets of Cordes.

cordes sur ciel

Some further webpages to help you in your planning to this unique town are:

Tourism Cordes sur Ciel !

The city page on tourism and more in French :

Tourism Tarn Occitanie on Cordes:

Tourisme Occitanie region on Cordes :

There you have it, Cordes sur Ciel or is it heavens on Cordes! A wonderful cloud perch town that is worth any detour you can take while in the region or even go directly there! Have a great week, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

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