Tuesday, October 2, 2012



East of Montauban along the D115 we cross the river into MONTRICOUX, at the entrance of the Gorges des Aveyron.

During the heat wave we are looking for some water to cool off in. We stop here because there is easy access to the river. But we only wade in knee deep, partly because the water was so shallow, but mostly because the water is decidedly less than fresh!

When the weather cools, we return to explore Montricoux.

A very ancient town, where in the 13th Century the Knights Templar built a castle that became one of the most important Templar strongholds in France. 

This was the Commander’s residence, a fortress and a dungeon. We know about all the blood that was spilt between the Catholics and Protestants during those bad old days. Eventually, the fortress was attacked by the Huguenots and burned down. Today the ruins are still in evidence. The church of St. Pierre (above) still bears the Templar symbols.

Pope Clement V from Avignon, under orders of King Phillip lV, shut down the Templars in 1312. Greedy Phil and his royals were bankrupt and the Templars had bags and bags of money, banks, and power throughout the known Christian world. After flourishing for nearly 200 years, the Templars were destroyed, their leaders tortured into giving false confessions before being burned at the stake.

But they left indelible marks in all of France. The Templars drained the swamps (marais) in Paris, hence the Marais district. We have walked and driven in their footsteps throughout France. We continue to do so. Their history is a great read for those who have the interest.

We walk around the winding streets with more unrestored medieval houses than we have seen in any one town. And most of these buildings are occupied. 

Homes that appear never to have been restored or renovated, except for the addition of electricity and plumbing.

We pass by many leaning buildings and tumbledown ruins and happen upon an old manor house that is the Musée de Marcel Lenoir.

     Lenoir self portrait (above)

Lenoir was born in Montauban, lived in Paris for most of his adult life and created the bulk of his works in Monparnasse with contemporaries like Matisse, Monet, Victor Hugo, and later, Picasso. He died in Montricoux in 1931.

We were not familiar with Lenoir, but his entire collection of drawings, paintings, and ceramics are housed here for display. We are so glad that we just happened upon it.

Invocation à la Madone d'Onyx Vert (left)

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