• Visite Classe 1900 - St-Girons
  • Visite Église Luzenac de Moulis
  • Visite chez les artistes - St-Girons
  • Marbre d'Aubert
  • Visite des savoir-faire
   
   

Settled at the foot of the mountains, St-Girons is the crossroad of the 18 Couserans valleys. According to several archeological findings, the antique capital of the Consorani (the Roman People) was situated on the exact location of Saint-Girons.

During the Middle Ages, different religious orders established: Benedictines, Dominicans (or Jacobins), Capuchines, Antonines (St-Antonin street), the St-John’s Hospitallers. During the XIIIth century, the Villefranche bastide town was created by Arnold of Spain, fourth Viscount of the Couserans.

During religious wars, the town was taken by Protestants who claimed a huge amount of money from its inhabitants. They withdrew on the Mount Garié and only payed half of the ransom. During the XVIIth century, Mr. Froideur, steward of Waters and Forests sent by Louis XV, as well as the Baron Haussmann, town Sub-prefect in 1840, report the importance of fairs and markets.

Departure : Tourist office, place Alphonse Sentein
Duration : 1hour

Alphonse SenteinIn front of the tourist office you're at the Alphonse Sentein square : Alphonse Sentein was a learned man, a musician (postcards show him playing oboe, instrument that he spotlighted) and a félibre (Occitan poet), native from the Sentein village (1888-1980). 

Walking out of the tourist office and taking the stairs on your right, you’ll come across a small garden at the emplacement of a former fulling mill (one can still see the channel exits) that now houses a monument in memory of Oscar Auriac and his son Jean Auriac.
Oscar was born in Betchat and worked as a national inspector of state education. In 1941, on July 19, in order to save comrades in arms, his son committed suicide after having suffered a first interrogation. A bell cote is spanning the street. On the house stuck to the church one can admire a stone dating from 1733.

1 - Saint-Girons church

Saint-Girons church

The St Girons churh (from Sancti Geronti, a Saint with vandal origins who was buried on the river bank, at the location of the church) is located in the most ancient part of town, near a ford in the Salat river. At the end of the XIIth century, the church was one of the priories of the "Cluze in Piémont" Benedictine Abbey.

The XVth century belfry is opposite of the apse and was used as a narthex.
The clock was installed in 1884.In 1857/1861, the church was rebuilt in a neo-Gothic style and with an ogival shaped span. Thirty-two beautiful wooden carved stalls can be admired in the Choir. The end XIXth century organ was built by the well-known organ builder Aristide Cavallier-Coll.


❂ Savours: Martine Crespo local pie manufacture - 38, rue P. Mazaud  05 34 14 30 20
 Skill: The very old Savignac hardware store - 18, rue P. Mazaud  09 66 91 99 53
❂ Savours: the Couserans Dairy store - 3, rue de la République  05 61 66 50 30

 

Take the "rue (street) du Bourg"
Once upon a time, this most ancient street in town was called Bourg sous Vic.
Several of its buildings have open galleries at the top floor where laundry and crop used to be put to dry.


 Skill: Art gallery "La main parle" presents local painters - 9, rue du Bourg, 05 61 66 14 26

2 - Place Pasteur (square)

The 7 main streets of the town centre lead to this lively square. The town was built according to Roman military ratings :
- 250 meters seperate the square from the Saint-Valier church
- there is the same distance in between the Pasteur and Jean Jaurès squares (in the Rue de la République, an individual found a treasure of Roman coins that is actually being displayed in the Saint-Lizier county museum).
- again, 250 meters from the Jean Jaurès square to the cimetery
- the same distance from the cimetery to the Baup bridge
- and then the same ratings were used in between the F. Arnaud Boulevard and the Saint-Girons church
Other Roman whitnesses: the name of the Ledar neighbourhood could come from the Roman word ledara (ara: sacrificial altar); part of the Roman stack can be seen in the Lez River at the northern town exit, in the direction of St-Lizier.


Take the rue Gambetta
❂ Savours : Chocolate maker Jean Pascal Balard - 4, rue Gambetta ' 05 61 66 35 11

3. A golden mosaic façade

The pharmacy façade (1927) at the corner of the Gambetta Street and the Aristide Briand Square is covered with both golden mosaics that remind us of spanish "azulejos" and an Occitan inscription saying: "Estaoubio pouri na repaousat roussi, minjo pa qu'an as" (Be economic, little foal, in order to rest, old horse, eat bread whenever you have some).

4. A 1900 façade

Under the galleries, a second-hand bookshop is installed in the former "Salle des Illustres" (room of the distinguished) that used to be a place for meetings, concerts and festivities.


 Skill : Leather workshop - 3, Rue Jules Desbiaux ' 05 61 66 50 30

5. Allées du Champ de Mars

champ de mars

Every Saturday morning, a picturesque traditional market is taking place under the trees of the alley. The market is awarded the label “Markets of France” and is considered being part of the most typical ones in the country. This very popular market makes the inhabitants of the surrounding valleys come down to Saint-Girons.


❂ Savours : Saint-Girons market, numerous local producers
On Sauturdays morning

Saint-Girons town hall :

Saint-Girons has always been welcoming numerous artists. In the town hall, paintings of several local artists, such as the painter Regagnon (creator of the 1959 Marianne stamp), are exhibited. Well-known artists include the Pedoya brothers who decorated many churches, chapels, Hospices and castles in the Midi-Pyrenées region. The painter René Lagorre exhibited his work all over the world.
In order to commemorate the first centenary of the French Revolution, a column surmounted by the bust of the Republic was erected on the south side of the square in 1889. It’s Latin inscription says: “the citizens have conquered freedom in 1789; the grandchildren at the glory of their ancestors 1889; law, peace, right”.


On the left, take the Peyrevidal Boulevard heading towards the Saint-Valier church.

6. Saint-Valier church

This church, as the Saint-Girons one, was a monastic creation. Until the french revolution, the church was called Notre-Dame-de-Saint Valier. During the IVth century, Saint-Lizier was the first Couserans Bishop (Valérius, who also gave his name to the most beautiful and highest mountain of the Couserans, the 2839m high Saint-Valier). The church was part of the priory until 1318 and then became the parish church.

During the XVth century, the primitive Romanesque church (XIIth century) was re-designed. The actual walls date from that period. The clock-tower was built during the XVIth century. The northern wall kept its XVth century windows and the rest of the church is of a gothic style. The Roman style entrance is the oldest part of the building. It is surmounted by 3 semi-circular arches flanked by 4 columns that are carved with decorative inscriptions and floral interlacings such as monster heads, snakes and a Solomon’s seal. The last archivolt is geometrically patterned.

 

Retrace your steps back to the column at the Champ de Mars and then cross the bridge that will lead you to the Castle of Viscounts.

7. The Couserans Castle of Viscounts

This building is an impressively square, bastion-shaped old castle with a tower at each angle. It is the increasing wall thickness that gives the building its ship prow shape. The window-frame decorations are of Renaissance style. At one time, the castle was a prison. 
Inside, a Ist century Roman memorial stone made out of white marble is displayed. It was found around the sacred Roman wood called “Lucus”, in 1905. This low pillar shaped monument with funeral inscriptions indicated the emplacement of a tomb.
A very interesting collection of ancient books can be found in the library on-site.

 

Go round the left of the building and up the opposite Joseph Pujol street. On the right, you'll see the old bridge.

8. Le Pont Vieux (the old bridge)

Saint girons old bridge

The bridge dates from the XVIth century and has been revised in 1801 and after the 1824 flood. With its two broad vistas pointing Nort and South, it offers us lovely views over the river and the mountains.
Note the coloured sidewalks made out of Couserans marble.

 Skill: Molten glass - 5, rue du Pont-Vieux  06 01 93 77 07


Continuing the Joseph Pujol street, you'll arrive at the Capots Square.

9. Place des Capots

The capots were rejected inhabitants. They were confined to certain quarters and only allowed to do jobs like carpenter or blacksmith. They could easily be considered as lepers or those suffering from goitre. It was also thought that they were either Visigoths or converted Saracens brought from the re-conquered Spain.


Continue the Villefranche shopping street until you arrive at the War Memorial.

 Skill : Galerie Bonnière - hand-made desing jewellery and temporary exhibitions - 27, rue Villefranche 05 61 66 94 38

10. War Memorial

Saint-Girons War Memorial

This listed historical monument was built by Patrice Bonnet (1879-1932), the architect who was charged with the renovation of Versailles in 1925. "Prix de Rome" recipient.The modest and very moving statue represents a widow dressed in a traditional costume.


Crossing both the roundabout and the bridge and taking the Toulouse direction, you'll come past a garden with the statue of Aristide Bergès who was the inventor of hydroelectricity. A museum of paper and graphic arts can be visited in his birth house in Lorp.
Information 05 61 66 94 38


Walking on, you'll arrive at the former railway station and so at the House of the Liberty Trail.

11. The House of the Liberty Trail

House of the Liberty Trail

The House of the Liberty Trail houses a museum which traces the journey to Spain of those who escaped from Nazie oppression. It also honours the memory of the courriers and the Evadés de France (the Escaped from France) during World War II.This both cultural and heritage space reminds us of a dark page of history and values the epic of all those who have given their lives and fought for the country’s liberty.

The museum is opened from Monday till Friday from 10 till 11.30am and 2 till 6pm. 05 61 66 35 68

Walk back into town the same way you came and turn left at the War Memorial. Cross the bridge over the Salat River and and turn right onto the Quai du Gravier.

12. Quai du gravier

Here you are on a former freight unloading dock.

 

End of the walk through town.
You're now back at the Tourist Office.