The Templar and Hospitaller tour
La Couvertoirade - La Cavalerie - St Jean d'Alcas - Le Viala du Pas de Jaux - Ste Eulalie de Cernon
The Order of the Temple continues to arouse keen interest worldwide and to inspire quite a few authors and film makers… Among the best conserved witnesses in the Western world of this enthralling history:
The five fortified sites of the Templar and Hospitaller Larzac: La Cavalerie, La Couvertoirade, Sainte-Eulalie de Cernon, Le Viala du Pas de Jaux and Saint-Jean d'Alcas.
LA CAVALERIE: the witness of a very turbulent past
La Cavalarie, founded by the Templars and located at a major crossroads, has always been much sought after… In the 15th century it was subject to repeated attacks from bands of pillagers, and then played host to conflicts during the Wars of Religion. But La Cavalerie was also a place for people passing through and for exchanging, something that helped it to flourish. The ramparts have undergone some impressive renovations, enabling you to gain access once again to the allure (or wall-walk), where a sweeping panorama, unchanged for centuries, awaits you!
Further information: La Cavalerie website
LA COUVERTOIRADE: Strong and intact
Visiting La Couvertoirade is like genuinely setting off for some time travel!
Remarkably conserved and recognised as one of France’s Most Beautiful Villages, La Couvertoirade wil appear to you like a mirage right in the middle of the Causse… What a surprise to discover this village with its 15th century walls standing proud, while nestling inside, in a maze of little streets, can be found its traditional houses, its communal oven (which has been patiently restored and is once again in working order!), its church, its castle, not to mention all the adjustments that have been added for collecting something very precious on the Causse – water. Cistern roofs, cobbled streets, as well as the biggest lavogne (stone water-pool) on the Larzac and, last but not least, the mysterious conques (conches) and « the gift of water »…
SAINTE-EULALIE DE CERNON: The Larzac "mother-house"
The southern charm of the village square with its 17th century fountain, watched over by a beautiful Italian lady, makes Sainte-Eulalie, ideally situated in the heart of the Cernon Valley, look like Provence… But the stones of the Commandery will transport you well beyond Provence… The History that is inscribed in the walls of the Larzac « Motherhouse » will take you off to the Orient, via the Mediterranean. You are in for quite a few surprises during your visit of the Commandery, starting with the pure Romanesque style of the church that was built by the Templars, moving onto the contemporary Anne-Marie Letort tapestries in the Great Hall, and ending up with the watchtower and its mysterious grafitti.
VIALA DU PAS DE JAUX: The lighthouse on the Larzac
It was the Hospitallers who, in the 15th century, decided to build a huge refuge tower where, in case of attack, inhabitants and livestock could take cover, and where they could store their crops in safety. It stands nearly 30m tall! During the 20th century, its top vault collapsed and the whole building was threatened with ruin. However, it underwent some patient restoration, floor by floor, providing today’s visitors with access right to the top. From this terrace edged with machicolations you will be able to admire the landscape of the Larzac as well as the work that has gone into saving this heritage – to which your visits are contributing.
SAINT-JEAN D'ALCAS: A ladies' Fort!
This is undoubtedly the most feminine of the five sites. We owe the construction of this harmoniously proportioned fort to a Cistercian abbess… You now have access to the « upper rooms », which served as a refuge for the population during The Hundred Years’ War, and can admire the abbess’s justice room…
Further information: The Saint-Jean d'Alcas website
Source CLTH - Laurence FRIC
For over 15 years, the Conservatoire Larzac Templier et Hospitalier has been campaigning for the promotion and conservation of this exceptional heritage: considerable work has been carried out in fields of restoration, historical research and increasing the area’s attractiveness. This is a fine example of developing heritage based on culture and tourism, in harmony with the local population and at the core of some emblematic countryside that is now inscribe on the UNESCO World Heritage List: The Causses and the Cévennes.