Cordes-sur-Ciel (in Occitan Còrdas d’Albigés, in French Cordes until 1993), known during the Revolution under the name of Cordes-la-Montagne, is a commune located in the Tarn department, in the Occitania region (Massif Central, France).

Historically and culturally, the town is in Ségala, a territory extending over the departments of Tarn and Aveyron, made up of long schist plateaus, broken up by narrow valleys.

Exposed to an altered oceanic climate, it is drained by the Cérou, the Aurausse and various other small rivers. The town has a remarkable natural heritage consisting of a natural area of ecological, fauna and flora interest.

Cordes-sur-Ciel is a rural commune that had 808 inhabitants as of 2021, after having experienced a population peak of 2,925 inhabitants in 1851. Its inhabitants are called Cordais or Cordaises.

Bastide, built in 1222 by Count Raymond VII of Toulouse – a center of Catharism, is a medieval city that adapted its winding streets and centuries-old houses to a steep terrain dominating the peaceful Cérou valley.

A popular tourist site, Grand Site Occitanie is also a stop on the pilgrimage way (Camino de Santiago) to Santiago de Compostela.

The town is a member of the association, The Most Beautiful Villages of France. In 2014, this village was voted the French people’s favorite village.


In 1222, Cordes received its charter from the Count of Toulouse to become a bastide. It is generally considered to be the first of the bastides of Southwest France (although some historians classify Montauban, built in the 12th century, as the first bastide.)

Bastides were “new towns,” originally conceived to resettle and shelter people who had been displaced by the Albigensian Crusade. They were also intended to colonize southwest France and encourage agricultural and related market development. Though not fortified, bastides were often built in defensible locations.

Built between 1222 and 1229, Cordes protected the scattered population of the area from conflict. It was intended to replace the village of Saint-Marcel, which was burnt down by the troops of Simon de Montfort in 1215, during the Northern baron’s crusade against the Albigensians.

Main attractions

  • The village is surrounded by four enclosures and several gates such as the Porte des Ormeaux, the Porte de la Jane or the Porte de l’Horloge.

  • This village is known, among other things, for its market well which is more than 100 meters deep (113.47 meters).

  • The Grand Veneur’s house is a large sandstone building with a three-story facade. It is one of the most sculpted facades in the village. The town hall headquarters is located in the Fonpeyrouse house.

  • The Monument of Remembrance, Place de la Bride, metallic masterpiece by the Occitan watercolorist-painter-blacksmith-sculptor and storyteller Jean Marc (1924-2008), born in Montans, who had his workshop in the town.

  • The Saint-Michel church, in southern Gothic style, dates largely from the 13th century, despite alterations in the 15th century. The bell tower dates from the 14th century. The interior preserves Renaissance-inspired frescoes created by the painter Gayral from 1841 to 1844 and several paintings dating from this period (Saint Louis de Gonzagues in prayer, Apotheosis of Saint James, etc.). The building was classified as a historic monument in 1922.

  • The place called Pied Haut located not far from the village which allows a global view of the bastide. Going there at dawn allows you to see the city emerging from the clouds.

  • Chapel of the Holy Crucifix of Cordes-sur-Ciel. The building was classified as a historic monument in 1984.

  • Cross of Cordes-sur-Ciel.

  • The Capelette Saint-Jacques. The building was listed as a historic monument in 1927.
  • Chapel of the Trinitarians of Cordes-sur-Ciel.

  • Chapel of the Notre-Dame de Cordes-sur-Ciel convent.

  • Saint-Jean Chapel of Saint-Jean.
  • Capuchin convent of Gaillac. Convent from 1660 located chemin des Capucins, rue La Peyrade. In 1826, it was made available to the community of the sisters of Saint Joseph of Oulias (Rhône). Since 1975, it has been the main home of the community of the Beatitudes, formerly the community of the Lion of Judah and the Immolated Lamb. The Capuchin convent is currently for sale.

How to get to?

From Paris: 6 hr 54 min (652 km) via A20

From Toulouse: 1 hr 17 min (83.4 km) via A68

From Andorra: 3 hr 43 min (263 km) via A68

From Barcelona: 4 hr 59 min (472 km) via AP-7 and A61

From Madrid: 8 hr 48 min (887 km) via A-1 and A64

From Monaco: 6 hr 30 min (594 km) via A8

From Moscow: 36 hr (3,433 km) via E30/M1

From Belgrade: 19 hr 42 min (1,908 km) via E70

From Istanbul: 29 hr (2,847 km) via E70

From Bern: 8 hr 12 min (796 km) via A75

Main information

Area: 8.27 km2

Population: 808

Coordinates: 44°03′52″N 1°57′13″E

Language: French

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

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