The Quintessence of the Middle Ages in Quercy
Saint-Namphaise: The Story of a Hermit Across the Causse
The legend tells that Namphaise was an officer of Charlemagne. After experiencing the hardships of war, he reportedly chose to live as a recluse in the heart of the Causses. Having founded an initial monastery in Marcilhac-sur-Célé, in the Lot region, he selected the heart of the Quercy Causses to continue his quest for spirituality. In order to assist the rural life, he dug numerous ponds to provide water for the herds on the dry and arid plateaus. Dug directly into the rock, there are now several hundred water points, which have become biodiversity reserves. According to the legend, Namphaise was killed by a furious bull, and his relics are said to rest today in the crypt of the church of Caniac-du-Causse.
The Art of Conveying the Divine Word
During the Middle Ages, creativity flourished in educating worshippers through sculpture, painting, and visual representations of Bible passages and saintly figures. Today, the department boasts numerous Romanesque churches, but only a handful have retained their painted decor. Among these, the churches of Soulomès and Lunegarde stand out.
Soulomès, a seemingly unnoticed village, became the site of a Templar commandery from 1160. The Church of Sainte-Marie Madeleine and the attached commandery still showcase a remarkable decor featuring scenes from the Passion of Christ and the tetramorph representation on the rib-vaulted ceilings.
Lunegarde is a timeless haven in the heart of the Causses. The Church of Saint-Julien exhibits a vibrant pictorial program, offering visitors a glimpse into the unique painting style of the 1500s.
The Braunhie Forest
You are here in a territory where nature asserts itself through its landscapes and the variety of species it harbors. Several iconic spaces allow everyone to discover a preserved nature.
The Braunhie Forest, recognized as a Sensitive Natural Area, is one of the emblematic places of the Quercy Causses. Crisscrossed by numerous hiking trails, it is now among the favorite spots for hikers. It is particularly in this forest that one can discover geological surprises, especially the ‘igues,’ a local term for sinkholes. This uniqueness is acknowledged by UNESCO, which has designated the Causses du Quercy Park as a UNESCO Global Geopark.
The Vers stream meanders through a steep valley, offering a refreshing retreat amidst the Causses. This site, where numerous protected species find sanctuary, is now safeguarded under the Natura 2000 designation. The stream is adorned with numerous small waterfalls, formed by natural tufa barriers, giving it an idyllic appearance. An ideal spot for trout fishing, the Vers Valley can also be explored on an electric bike.
Here, people have woven very close ties with limestone, which you will encounter frequently in our region. It is with these natural elements that human hands have shaped the landscape for millennia, organizing their daily lives.”
Quercy: Land of Stones
Dolmens are now prominent heritage features in our region, marking certain hiking trails such as those in the Braunhie Forest or along the Lentillac-du-Causse trail. These megastructures, built during antiquity 2000 years ago, form a dense network of burial sites across the Causses du Quercy. The Regional Natural Park has conducted research and inventory efforts, providing us with a better understanding of these megalithic structures. A explanatory booklet, ‘Discovering the Megaliths of the Causses du Quercy,’ is available for free download, offering insight into the number of dolmens present in the area.