Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Villeneuve and Beyond

Edith was a willing explorer while she was here and never hesitated when I suggested a new place to visit. This day our destination was Villeneuve, a bastide town in the Aveyron. Founded in the mid-11th century, the village was originally a safe haven, its church and priory offering the symbolic protection of 'God's peace' to all who entered. In 1231, Raymond VII extended the village making it a bastide town. Well-fortified, but with wide streets and arcaded galleries, it hosted numerous markets and fairs. Interestingly at this same time, the citizens were granted the right to govern themselves. There was a consul house and each small neighborhood or quarter elected a consul yearly to represent them. Areas of governance included administration law, trade, taxes, safety public health and road maintenance. Not so different than our local governments today.

Porte Haute, one of four fortified gates into Villeneuve is still in use by both cars and pedestrians

The arcaded buildings surrounding pretty Place des Conques are still the center of commerce in the village hosting cafes, art galleries, book stores, and flower shops. In the photo below you see the building on the place that was designated as the King's House, a place for royal emissaries to stay when they visited the village. It's now the site of the mairie.

In the next few days, I'll take to you the sites 'beyond' Villeneuve that intrigued us during this day of exploration.

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