he 13th-century fortress village of Najac, perched on a steep-sided hill on the south-western edge of the département, dominates the wild gorges of the Aveyron, and does so in style.
This is one of many villages to have been embroiled in the
early 13th-century religious saga of the Cathars, when the ‘Good Men’, as they
were called, of a breakaway religious following were persecuted by the Pope and
his agents, and, in the case of Najac, condemned to build the church of St Jean
at their own expense. They were the lucky ones; many died in flames for their
'...a relaxed stroll through the village is all you'll need to absorb the flavour of this idyllic place.'
The village, one of the most beautiful in France, is essentially one long street perched on a ridge. Its timber-framed houses have a relaxed air about them, leaning companionably on their neighbours for essential support, and a relaxed stroll through the village is all you'll need to absorb the flavour of this idyllic place.
The walk to the castle precincts is well worth the effort, such as it is, for it gives a splendid view both of the village and the surrounding Aveyron countryside. The castle was built to defend the Rouergue when the Counts of Toulouse chose this as the capital of Lower Rouergue.
In 1249, on the death of Count Raymond VII, his son Alphonse de Poitiers, brother of King St Louis, succeeded him, and he it was who decided to strengthen the existing military structure.
25 place du Faubourg 12270 NAJAC
Tel: 05 65 29 72 05
HOTEL L'OUSTAL DEL BARRY, 2 Place du Sol del Barry, 12270
Najac. Tel: 05 65 29 74 32; www.oustaldelbarry.com.
A charming, small hotel-restaurant that is perfectly placed for exploration of the south-west corners of Aveyron, and, in particular the bastides.
HOTEL BELLE RIVE, 4 rue Roc du Pont, 12270 Najac. Tel: 05 65 29 73 90; www.le-belle-rive.fr.
A fine, 21-roomed Logis de France located about 2km from the centre of the village on the banks of the river, and facing the castle. Swimming pool, tennis, garage. The property was built in 1850 and has been in the same family for five generations. The restaurant serves the very best of the regional and local produce.