Saturday, March 8, 2014

Capdenac-le-Haut

The donjon
Capdenac-le-haut
I had such a great idea for a winter photo/blog project! Alas, the miserable rainy weather put a damper on it. Since there has been a dramatic shift in the weather pattern, I think that idea has now become a spring project. Here's the first installment....

I've blogged before about the 'most beautiful villages in France.' If you click on the highlighted link, you'll find an explanation of the requirements a village must meet to attain this designation as well as a list of them. There are several within driving distance from where I live, and I thought it would be fun to visit and share them on my blog. I've already been to some...St. Cirq-Lapopie, Conques, Cardaillac, Najac. There are several more, though, so watch for them in upcoming blog posts.

Today we'll visit Capdenac-le-Haut in the Lot department. I have no excuse for not visiting this beautiful village sooner. I've passed the sign to it many times. This week I found out what I've missed.
Beautiful medieval village houses
The site of the village overlooking the Lot River far below has been inhabited since Neolithic times. In fact, the oldest stone figure in France was discovered here in 1973. It's the plump torso of a woman who has been named the Capdenac Goddess; she dates from 3200-3000 BCE. The Romans certainly settled here.  For many years, the village claimed to be the site of Uxellodunum...the last stand of the Gauls against the Roman invaders. At that battle in 51 BCE, the great Gaul hero, Vercingetorix, was defeated by Julius Caesar himself. Archaeologists have since disproved Capdenac's claim, but the village isn't buying it

The village square
The village played an important role in the Treaty of Nantes that ended the Wars of Religion. It was one of 40 places in France given to the Protestants and remained a Protestant stronghold and place of refuge and religious freedom.

Today Capdenac-le-Haut is a sleepy village eclipsed by Capdenac Gare at the bottom of the valley below it. The railroad station there linked this part of France with the rest of the Aveyron, the Lot and beyond and a bigger town has grown up around it. The ramparts and donjon of the old village offer stunning views of the valley and its well-preserved medieval houses are a delight. There is a garden of medieval herbs and plants next to the donjon/tourist office and a small museum that is open during the tourist season. Visiting the old village is like stepping back into time.
The Lot River and train station at Capdenac Gare

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating post. We have even less excuse for not having visited Capdenac-le-Haut yet! A couple of years ago I set myself the project of visiting all 10 plus beaux villages in Aveyron. I got to Conques, Najac and Belcastel but the 7 others are still in the 'something to look forward to' category. Good luck with your quest. I look forward to reading about it.

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