The town of Conques in Aveyron is quite simply, bewitching. It has a mysterious air, oozes history and has oodles of charm in its cobbled streets and ancient buildings.
The Pilgrimage route
Conques is on the road from Le Puy, the most celebrated of the routes that lead to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It’s a place of enormous charm and you’ll feel like you’re taking a step back to the Middle Ages and the time of some of the greatest builders that ever lived.
The UNESCO Heritage listed Sainte-Foy abbey-church shelters under its towering vaulted ceiling, a unique treasure of Romanesque sculpture and artefacts. Among them are the tympanum of the Last Judgment and figurative capitals, all magnified by artist Pierre Soulages’ stained glass windows.
The gilded or plated reliquaries of the Treasure, embellished with ancient enamels, cameos, intaglios and precious stones are exquisite examples of medieval craftsmanship. The precious treasure, assembled and preserved through the ages, nestles around the monastery within an environment of great beauty that is today recognized in the selective list of “Les plus beaux villages de France”.
The pilgrim’s bridge that crosses the Dourdou River is also UNESCO listed as part of the World Heritage Sites (Route to Santiago de Compostela through France).
Architecture of Conques
Looking pretty much as it did hundreds of years ago Conques lives in a harmony of grey-blue slate, limestone and red sandstone. Climbing wisteria and other colourful flowers add a touch of colour.
Rising up from the faith, minds and hands of monks during the 10th -12th centuries, Conques is a classic example of Roman art and was a major staging post on the Saint-Jacques pilgrimage route. Its importance was largely due to the remains of Sainte-Foy, brought here from Agen in 866AD, a classic example of Roman art. The abbey, with its famous final judgement tympanum, and its cloisters, boasts two of the most beautiful masterpieces of medieval, ornamental sculpture.
For over 12 centuries, Conques has homed fabulous treasures and religious masterpieces. With its narrow streets and old half-timbered houses tiled in lauzes, the village of Conques retains its millennial purity.