After an excellent breakfast finished with coffee overlooking the misty gorge, we left Saint-Jean-de-Bruel and continued our Circuit du Larzac with a brief stop at La Cavalerie, the companion to Saint-Eulalie-De Cernon.
This site was developed in the middle of the ancient north-south route connecting with the Mediterranean ports. Established for the cavalry and, most importantly, shelter for the horses; It became a commercial center supplying both accommodations and safety for travelers. The large parking lot behind the compound conveniently has the information booth attached and offered site maps. We walked around the structure and entered through a side gate. On the inside attached to the front wall of the fortress, were the original 12th century single room houses. Practical people building their homes above the stables: cooler in the Summer and warmer in the Winter if you could survive the barnyard smells.
This was the site where the soldiers lived, practiced, ate and slept. They were constantly on guard. I believe you can see a Knight Templar in the corner. And of course, the Commanders had better quarters, and some with families, at Sainte-Eulalie De Cernon.
After visiting La Cavalerie, we drove to the nearby area where the “Commanders” lived, now a small farm village inside the walled old fortress. The large parking lot had only one car in it although just beyond we saw a small herd of grazing sheep being shepherded by a young boy.
SAINTE-EULALIE DE CERNON
Entering the site originally built by the Templars and expanded by the Hospitallers were 3 floor buildings surrounding a large open plaza centered with a fountain. Directly across from the fountain and adjacent to the church was an information center where English was spoken but all the pamphlets were in French.
This picture is only 5 years after we visited…and I do believe that the tourists have come and the town has greatly expanded! You can clearly see where the original fortress is and newer buildings are both inside and outside.
Mike’s extensive international wine vocabulary had not yet been necessary in the Laraiac plateau—but there is always hope! Plenty of wine to drink but no local wineries where one could learn about the terror and varieties of grapes used in the process.
St. Edlalie was a working farm town and only just beginning to encourage tourism.
The Templars built the north wing, including a Romanesque Church and the granary tower but the Hospitallers expanded the village in the 15th Century adding a good deal of charm to the austere walled town. The church was typically dark with a single aisle to the alter but the sunny and beautiful plaza beckoned. Passing a lovely stairwell, we walked to the only open side of the plaza where we looked over the low wall and down the valley to the surrounding hills, Some Commanders and soldiers stabled their horses at the nearby site La Cavalerie while residing in Sainte Eulalie.
Sitting, drinking espresso, (of course there was a cafe) in this sun-lit bit of antiquity allowed us to envision what life was like here in the 11th through 17th century… and what it is like today as a working farm village. When we left around noon, there were 2 more cars in the parking lot.
The church straight ahead and the buildings on the left were from the 12th century. On the right, the 14th or 15th century.
This was the site where the soldiers lived, practiced, ate and slept. They were constantly on guard. And of course, the Commanders had better quarters, and some with families, at Sainte-Eulalie De Cernon.
Afternoon of 8-2-12
We parked just outside the arched stone entrance to this walled city. There was only one other car in the lot. The rough flattened stones of the main street, only slightly smoothed since the 14th century, but were too rough for modern cars. The first floors of the buildings had the same rocky floors. This was the last and the most attractive hamlet of the Circuit.
The Abbess of the neighboring Cistercian Abby not only oversaw the construction of the village but also ran it for over 20 years. The Abbess adjudicated any problems that arose among the townspeople.
We found a few of the small stores open, they were the size and shape of monastic cells that had been joined together with rocky floors, walls and beamed ceilings.
There were small homes and apartments being rehabbed for sale or rent (much like the other sites) and various shops and cafes beginning to take shape. Saint- Jean was a large, squared, walled village with one main street.The left side of the walkway supported several rehabbed offices/stores, closed for lunch, much to our regret.
The small single-aisle handsome church was similar to the others on this Circuit: elegant in its simplicity, foreboding in its darkness. The Abbess was revered by the townspeople who assisted her in building this beautiful site.
We probably won’t be this way again….but a few adventures capture your heart and live in
But in this time with all the travailler in our world today… perhaps it’s better if we open those doors as widely as we can… and live with their fundamental simplicity.