Marvejols Things to Do

  • All sorts of doors
    All sorts of doors
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  • Porte Soubeyran
    Porte Soubeyran
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  • Watching the street from the window
    Watching the street from the window
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Most Recent Things to Do in Marvejols

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    The beast of Gevaudan

    by kokoryko Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The BEAST !
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    A wolf? A werewolf? Another animal? A human?
    This website displays a rather complete research about “the beast” which now is part of legends of the area; books, old research, images, testimonies from that time, etc. . . . Apparently the only sure and established fact, is that there were lots of victims, but then. . . . .
    The Beast of Gevaudan is responsible for about 150-200 deaths (60 to more than 250, according to various sources); probably a wolf (werewolf?) which roamed in the area in the 1764-1767 years. More than 200 years after, the local population still remembers it and this beast is in some way a tourist attraction in Marvejols and few villages in the vicinity.
    Emmanuel Auricoste, in 1958, tried to render the dreadful appearance of that beast with his metallic sculpture (picture 1) which you discover near the southern entrance of the city. If you wander around in the city at night, and feel scared, take cover in the nearby eponymous café (picture 2). . . . .
    This animal, standing on a huge block of Margeride granite, is not easy to photography, in fact (pictures 3 and 4), and for a better idea, I added a picture taken from a website (picture 5).
    This beast has of course inspired a number of fiction movies, among them the recently (2004) released “le pacte avec les loups”, of which you may watch a preview.

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    C’est quoi ce truc?

    by kokoryko Written Mar 12, 2010

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    Truc de Gr��zes
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    What’s that thing? This is the translation of the title, but a “truc” in High Languedoc is a hill, a hillock, above a plateau or a plain, and I could not resist to use this word in French popular acceptation, a thing! Many trucs are disseminated near the fringes of the Causse Plateau, buttes, remnants of the Causses when they were more extended before erosion made its work; on the first picture is “Truc du Midi”, near Marvejols, dominating the village of Grèzes.
    On the picture 2, other trucs dominating fertile valleys.
    Local population, since ages take advantage of the topography orf the area where they live, and often built villages or castles on trucs, like Severac le Chateau (picture 3), and most important, trucs are like water towers, water containers, and many springs are disseminated around the trucs, and they are laid out as fountains or wells which provide drinking water to the villages (picture 4).
    And trucs are nice to walk on and a rest in the grass among flowers is a very enjoyable part of the hike (picture 5).

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    Countryside and villages

    by kokoryko Updated Mar 12, 2010

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    Castle, fortified farm. . .
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    When you arrive to Marvejols you already have noticed the beautiful countryside, hills, forests, fields, picturesque villages, silhouettes of castles on the skyline. . . .
    Just above Marvejols, on the North is the village of le Lignon, and there, the castle you discover at a road turn (picture 1) is more (or less?) than a castle, it is just a farm, in what I would call French rural style of farm/house keeping: disseminated agricultural tools, silage stacks covered with black plastic tarpaulins and used tyres. . . . . but it’s just part of farm keeping. . . .
    There are castles and nice little villages, like Grèzes (picture 2), located at the feet of a truc (Truc? Next tip!), quite picturesque, with ruins of a castle, stone houses, nice hiking trails up the hill, . . . . . From the village, you have beautiful views over the valley and to the Causse Plateau (picture 3).
    A fountain can be seen in the main street of the village, when you walk up to the church (picture 4), you walk by the ruins of the castle, breathe the wind, and then walk up the small trails and look at the backside of the village and houses (picture 5), which have some poetic charm, old, a bit lost, very quiet; just an example of the villages around Marvejols.

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    Houses and roofs

    by kokoryko Written Mar 12, 2010

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    Lauzes (tiles)
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    You noticed that most of roofs are made with slates in Marvejols, and that gives a special charm; when houseleeks colonise them, they are even more charming.
    The rivers carved down their bed to the old basement rocks where the house builders found granite to build the walls and the slates to make the roofs; in the villages located on the hills (trucs), the construction material is limestone and for the roofs, limestone plates are extracted and shaped to make the “lauzes” (tiles), like this roof on picture 1 (slate roof in the background); moss and small houseleeks on this roof; whatever grows on the roof (picture 2), you can be assured the roof is tight! Except, may be when the framing breaks down, but the abandoned houses look so beautiful to me (picture 3).
    On steep roofs, the leeks grow only on the lower part of the roof (pictures 4 and 5). . . . . Finally, old cities, old villages offer simple pleasures. . . :)

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    Windows

    by kokoryko Written Mar 12, 2010

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    Place Henri Cordesse
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    The architecture here, looks a bit messy, a mixture of different styles, but this mess is in fact the charm of the city, and specially, Place Henri Cordesse, where for instance, you can see (picture 1) a number of different window styles and some balconies.
    Laundry drying on windows has some charm, specially next to coats of arms like on this stone house (picture 2)
    The attic windows covered with slates (picture 3) belong to the local style, either, big, high windows like here, or smaller windows like in picture 1.
    A bit sad is to see that many windows are closed; open, they would add some charm to this little place and the house above the porch (picture 4); but other windows or balconies are “alive”, and you can here or there spot some locals watching what happens on the street (picture 5).

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    A matter of religion?

    by kokoryko Written Mar 12, 2010

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    Henri IV
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    In the 16th century, Marvejols became a protestant city, and after the St Bartholomew massacre the inhabitants decided to strengthen their fortifications; the city also supports Henri de Navarre, protestant prince of Bearn in the quest for the kingdom of France.
    The fortifications did not help against the troops of Joyeuse, and in 1586, the city was totally destroyed by the Catholics.
    In 1589, Henri de Navarre became Henri IV, king of France, and changed his faith to Catholic, but he remembered the small city in the mountains of Central Massif, and helped its reconstruction, raising funds from catholic cities and regions, and Marvejols wa exempted of any tax under his reign.
    Marvejols was a “royal city”, protected by the king, and the inhabitants still remember this and in 1954 a statue has been erected as tribute to him; this statue located in front of Porte Soubeyran (picture 1), renders very well the image all French have of the “Green Gallant” .
    The religion wars were responsible for the destruction of Marvejols, and the good king, even having changed his religion remembered who helped him and contributed to the resurrection of the city!

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    Our Lady of the prison

    by kokoryko Written Mar 12, 2010

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    Our Lady of the prisons
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    The title of the tip is the translations of the name of the church of Marvejols; “Notre dame de la Carce”, “la Carce” (carceral. . . ) meaning prison in Languedocian language. Prison church? Church prison? Being part of a monastery since 1310, does the name mean that monasteries are prisons?
    If you look at the first picture, you see on that glass window, the Holy Lady and her Son, just having opened a heavy door and a prince who escapes. . . Parts of Languedoc were under Aragon rule in the 12th and 13th centuries, and the prince who escapes was a prince of Aragon; the story does not tell why he was imprisoned, but it is remembered the Lady helped his escape. . . . Much better like that: the Lady helps to ESCAPE from prison. . . . . .
    The church of Marvejols was first built in the 13th century, then integrated to a monastery in the 14th century; religion wars passed by. . . . and the church appears now as it is since it has been renovated in the 19th century ; as for many churches, renovation works are undertaken from time to time, and during summer 2009 (picture 2), there were renovation works outside.
    That does not prevent another Holy Lady to welcome the visitors (picture 3), and when you go in through the main entrance, you are struck by the painted pillars, arches and walls in the long nave (picture 4); the paints are in very good condition. A number of coloured wooden statues decorate small side chapels and the nave, a statue of the Lady of the prison can be seen near the altar, a gold painted pulpit stands in the nave, and there are many décor to look at, in this church listed on the French Historical monuments.
    And to finish with prisons, there is a window where Jeanne d’Arc (picture 5), holy patroness of France is represented: didn’t she liberate France from the English rule? France under English rule would have been like a prison. . . . It is a (silly) joke, of course!

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    Strange monuments

    by kokoryko Written Mar 12, 2010

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    A strange kiosk
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    In the city centre, on Place Henri Cordesse are two strange small monuments:
    A kiosk-clock, built in local style (roof), funny small monument, but it was not open when I passed by (picture 1);
    A small pillar shaped shrine taken from a church, probably, on the other side of the place, opposite the clock (picture 2).
    Walk slowly in the streets, look up and look at the street lights in perspective (picture 3).
    Well, you will not only walk in the old city, as you will want to go visit the church, located on a small hill, and on the way you will have nice perspectives on the village (picture 4), and have a look at the surroundings.
    I always carry with me a pocket-knife, of course it is always sharp (I love dry sausage and hard cheese), but as a knife-lover (this knife is widely featured on some of my Auvergne travelogues, and my Thiers page tells more about that sort of knives), and when I see a grindstone, I am always tempted to sharpen my knife; there is an antique shop in the main street (picture 5), and here even “antique” grindstones are for sale; Marvejols is a rather sleepy city, and seeing a few shops demonstrates at least it is not a dead city!

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    Explore the streets

    by kokoryko Written Mar 12, 2010

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    Mascaron on a vault
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    You certainly already noticed that the roofs are made with slates in Marvejols; but not only are the slates interesting in their shapes, lay out and rather robust type, you can see on picture 2 the upside down boat shape of the roof; many houses, farms barns of the area have that type of roof shape, and I find them very elegant; these houses are visible outside the centre; let us walk back to the historical centre.
    Some of these old houses are of renaissance style, a bit a rural style, looking more like farm houses rather than mansions. . . but on the vaulted porches of some you can see décor, like this lion on picture 1. Most doors however have a sober simple architecture (picture 3), and the houses are very sober, in general, just raw granite blocks making the solid walls (picture 4); note also that if granite is a good construction material, the locals, very wisely use oak wood for the long lintels, as it is more traction resistant, and use stone for arches or vaults (picture 5); the different styles next to each other look a bit messy, but it has its charm , siding the old streets.

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    Walk in the streets

    by kokoryko Written Mar 12, 2010

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    Rue de la r��publique
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    One enjoyable thing to do in an old city is to wander randomly in the streets, and this is even more true in Marvejols, as many streets are so narrow that cars cannot circulate there.
    It must be said that the city is very quiet, and without traffic and crowds, you will have plenty of time to look at the houses, the windows, the architectural details. . . .
    Look how quiet it is, and even the main street (rue de la République) is just a heaven of peace (picture 1), and in the same time, you see there are shops, drying laundry, cafés, and people walking slowly. . . . A bit of coloured houses on this side street (picture 2), various architectural styles. . . Vaulted doors (picture 3) and even “vaulted streets” (picture 4); the only traffic you may have to watch for is made by bicycle riding kids (picture 5). . . . and even, there are not a lot of bikes. . . . so, take your time walking in the streets and look at the doors, windows, roofs. . . . (Next tip).

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    The gates to the city

    by kokoryko Written Mar 12, 2010

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    Porte Soubeyran
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    When you arrive to Marvejols by road, you most probably will first see the impressive Porte de Soubeyran (Soubeyran gate) northern entrance to the old city (picture 1); this gate is one of the three gates left, which were the entrances of the city when it was surrounded by thick and high ramparts. The ramparts have been demolished and removed (under Richelieu, minister of Louis XIII, who ordered in the demolition of most protestant fortresses beginning 17th century, and later with the Revolution), and you can only follow their lay out when walking on the circular streets around the city.
    The Porte des Chanelles is the southern gate (picture 2) and it is built in the same style as the previous one, with two huge roofed towers on each side of a small gothic arch; the windows have probably been widened recently, but the defensive military architecture is still obvious with the machicolation above the gates and the step-outs on top of the towers.
    The Porte du Theron (picture 3), to the South-East, has been largely renovated and the towers contain apartments.
    These gates have not anymore a military use, now, and I like it a lot when they are not “museified”, like in many places; at Porte des Chanelles, the higher levels are apartments and at street level are shops (middle age lingerie?), and even a laundrette (picture 4); and the curious tourist can go for information at the tourist office, located at the feet of Porte de Soubeyran (picture 5).

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