Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges is one of the most appealing and most attractive of the many villages that grace the northern slopes of the Pyrenees, many overlooked as visitors race on by to the mountains and cities. But visitors who take the time to visit St Bertrand will not be disappointed.
Lying 110km south of Toulouse, built on a Roman settlement, Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges rises at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains. Founded more than 2,000 years ago, this is today an important centre for art, enriched by two millennia of history, a masterpiece of Haute-Garonne heritage.
Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges is perched on an isolated hilltop, encircled by ramparts, dominated by its cathedral, which contains some marvellous and very descriptive misericords. But in addition to its former cathedral the village has a Romanesque basilica as well as Roman ruins. There is an archaeological site close to the cathedral in which it is possible to identify the remains of a Roman thermae and of a theatre.
The cathedral has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the World Heritage Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France.
The village itself is a medieval one, with a number of arches and vaults. It has several gates entering it. On the Cabirole Gate it is possible to read about the tax on fishes set by Louis XIV. Another gate, the Majou Gate, is interesting in that it is the one pilgrims used.
There is no tourist office in Saint-Bertrand, but you can obtain some information at the reception entrance to the cathedral, and at the Haute Garonne departmental office.
Tel: 05 61 95 44 44
It isn't immediately obvious, but directly opposite the cathedral, to the left of a souvenir shop (L'Art d'Autrefois) is a narrow street. Go a short distance down here to find an excellent, if basic, auberge with a terrace on the left. The food is excellent; as a result, the place is popular, so don't turn up at one o'clock expecting to find tables available.