France - Albi, Carcassonne and Dordogne

- NAJAC 1 -

LINKS to other pages in the Albi, Carcassonne and Dordogne website and the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

1 : Home Page
2 : Introduction (Hotels etc.)
3 : Albi
4 : Najac
5 : Cordes Sur Ciel
6 : Bruniquel
7 : St Antonin Noble Val
8 : Gaillac Vineyard
9 : Castres
10 : Carcassonne
11 : St Cirq Lapopie
12 : Rocamadour
13 : Sarlat
14 : La Roque Gageac
15 : Cahors
16 : Guest Book:

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ON THE D39 road from la Fouillarde one is suddenly confronted with this view over the serpentine Aveyron valley. The village of Najac is situated on a conical hill in a bend of the Aveyron river. Its photogenic castle, which has graced many a travel poster, has sat firmly on the peak of the hill for nearly eight centuries...

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...while the half-timbered and stone-tiled village houses tail out in a single street along the narrow back of the spur that joins the hill to the floor of the valley. The church dedicated to St Jean (St John) is seen to the left below the castle.

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The castle is an excellent example of medieval defence architecture which was endlessly fought over because of its commanding and impregnable position in a region once rich in silver and copper mines. Gaining possession of Najac would have meant gaining the key to the entire region.

The castle was built in 1253 by Alphonse of Poitiers, brother of Saint-Louis, King of France, on the site of an earlier fortress, which had been built in 1100 by Bertrand of Saint-Gilles, son of Raymond IV and Count of Toulouse. The fortified village nestled at the foot of the castle which stood tall, defending the valley. The fusion of the two castles resulted in a masterpiece of thirteenth century military architecture. Seven metre high arrow loupes, unique in the world, enabled three archers to fire arrows at once at the enemy below.

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During the visit to the villge a partial eclipse of the sun took place...

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...which resulted in the curious 'half-light' appearance of the village shown in the picture on the left.

More pictures of Najac will be found on the following three pages. Please click on the 'Next' button (lower right).

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