As usual we passed through lots of villages, one having a grandiose calvary cross. We halted also at the city of Rodez which has an enormous cathedral in the centre. The nave and side naves are attractive though I have some doubts about the more modern glass that has been installed which bathes the church in odd colours of mauve and yellow and which in themselves have a washed out look to my mind. The rose window is lovely though.
Calvary cross, unusually ornate
Rodez cathedral rose window
The side nave lit by the modern glass
Unusually, the modern altar was placed at the west end of the church. I guess they decided not to change the choir area when new requirements for the involvement of worshippers came in at Vatican II.
The approach to Conques lies along a tree lined valley with some gorgeous old houses and mills, including one mill which is still milling flour. Probably not using the water power however, but it is nice to see the old buildings being used for their original purpose.
The house and weir for the mill race
But don’t shoot the ducks
The village really exists for the abbey church which welcomed pilgrims. They may still stay and there are still monks, Canons of the Premonstratensian order whom we also met on our previous visit to France. So “pelerins” with cockle shells on their packs still traverse the streets. We stayed at the appropriately named Auberge St Jaques and apart from very steep stairs to our room, the place was a delight, especially the terasse where we ate both nights. Scrumptious food, the best so far in France.
Auberge St Jaques. Our room was above the terrasse
Duck breast with sour cherries
The Romanesque church of Ste Foy (or St Faith) is quite amazing, from the detailed tympanum over the door showing the Last Judgement to the very modern glass windows, this time quite tasteful in shades of grey and white glass, by Pierre Soulanges from Rodez. I thought at first they were windows in alabaster stone. But they are glass and intended to inspire contemplation. The glass they replaced was reasonably modern and very bright, so I think the grey and white is sympathetic.
Around the edge of the tympanum runs a ribbon or banner, and holding it up are tiny faces and hands called “curieux” which I think means the curoius ones. Again, the eyes and the neat, parted hair are typical of the sculpture at Conques.
A capital in the cloister
The village is sweet, very old and often medieval in construction. The whole place is regarded as an historical monument and one of the “Plus beaux villages de France”. Everything is in harmony with no obtrusive signs or anachronisms.
Street view in Conques
|Conques from above, nestled in its valley|
Next posting: On towards Cognac country.