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Things to See in the Languedoc:   Historic Villages and Bastides:   Cordes-sur-Ciel

Cordes "on the sky" - so called officially since the twentieth century, because of the way it rises above low lying mists on winter mornings.

 Cordes-sur-Ciel. The town was founded in 1222 by Raimon VII, Count of Toulouse, during the Occitan re-conquest after the death of Simon de Monfort.  Cordes was the first and most important «bastide», built to welcome refugees after the Cathar wars.

The town was encircled by two fortification lines closed by powerful fortified gates.  Cordes remained the first stronghold of the Albi region for a long time.  It became one of the major Cathar centres, and consequently would experience the cruelty of the Papal Inquisition.  Following the Cathar period, Cordes experienced exceptional growth.  The early bastide spread out beyond its early ramparts and new suburbs were built requiring new fortification lines (5 in all).  Within three generations Cordes became a town of more than 5,000 inhabitants.  Its prosperity sprang from the textile and leather industries, trading and finance.

Today Cordes is renowned for its luxurious houses and small palaces built by prosperous merchants and noble families between 1280 and 1350.  Gothic decorations can be found in the architecture and some façades are decorated with high relief sculptures.

If you like being a tourist, this is the place for you.  It is chock-full of ex-pats in chocolate-box picture houses, over 50 resident artists, numerous restaurants, three museums and its own heritage industry.  There are also numerous theatrical plays and seasonal festivals (including ones for the asparagus and truffle seasons).

Office du Tourisme de Co

Cordes boasts no fewer than three museums:
  • Brayer Museum  Yves Brayer who stayed in Cordes best represents French figurative painting.  He originated Cordes' artistic momentum before and after the Second World War.  The donation made by the painter to his town is displayed in this museum: large oilpaintings, gouaches, tapestries and lithographs.
  • Embroidery Museum.  This museum goes concentrates on the period (from 1880 to 1930) when Saint Gallen embroidery was produced by mechanical frames.
  • Portal Museum.  This museum displays collections and documents about the history of Cordes and its area throughout the prehistorical, Gallo-Roman, Merovingian and medieval periods.   Among those documents are the village's foundation charter (1222), the «The Oracles of the Apostles» manuscript (13th century), and the «Libre Ferrat» of Cordes (14th century).

rdes sur Ciel
Maison Fonpeyrouse, 81170 Cordes sur Ciel
Tel : 05 63 56 00 52     Fax : 05 63 56 19 52
Email :
Opening hours:
From mid June till end October:: Open every day from 10 a.m. to 01 p.m. and from 02 p.m. to 07 p.m.
From end October to mid June: Open every day from 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 a.m. and from 02.30 p.m. to 06 p.m., except on Monday, Saturday and Sunday mornings (also open on Sunday morning during the academic holidays).
Closing days: On December 25th and on January 1st.

Inside the Walls of Cordes-sur-Ciel, Languedoc, France
Inside the Walls of Cordes-sur-Ciel, Languedoc, France Photographic Print
Wheeler, Nik




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