Cordes under the sky…

One day, with the sky strobing from bright sunlight to threatening showers every five minutes, we decided to go to Toulouse-Lautrec’s museum in Albi. Stunning countryside with sunflowers on their summer rampage, and on the way we came upon Cordes-sur-Ciel – literally, ‘Cordes on the sky.’ (We didn’t see it like this, but often on winter mornings there is mist in the low lying areas around the hill it is built upon, and the town really looks like it is floating in the sky).

Cordes is a medieval town we gave a perched rating of 9/10. Suddenly we found ourselves back in old Cathar territory. In 1222 Raimon VII, Count of Toulouse founded the town for refugees from the Cathar wars after Simon de Montford died (aka their chief scourge and tormentor).

So much of the town’s history is preserved – fortifications enclosing one another with their huge fortified portals. In spite of the town experiencing the gross cruelty of the Papal Inquisition, after the Cathar period, the town grew and prospered becoming a centre for trading and finance with thriving textile and leather industries. So by mid 1300’s it was also renowned for the luxurious houses and small palaces built by the prosperous merchants and noble families.

We arrived just before lunch and decided to have a picnic of local fare in a beautiful part midway up the hill, simultaneously feasting our eyes on stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Then we climbed up and up through lanes and alleys to reach the Place and war memorial at the top, via all sorts of surprises, including Stanko Krystic‘s a sculpture courtyard, the excellent Brayer art gallery (Yves Brayer, a French figurative painter, donated this to his town) and an embroidery factory, now a museum, featuring the Saint Gallen embroidery, and many interesting shops and galleries which we just couldn’t do justice timewise.

Heather, Tina and Sharon

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