Villefranche-de-Rouergue is a commune located in the Aveyron department, of which it is the sub-prefecture, in the Occitania region in southern FranceMassif Central.

The town has been awarded the “Grand Site d’Occitanie” label, as well as the “Ville d’art et d’histoire” label with the “Pays des bastides du Rouergue”.

Main attractions

Civil buildings

  • Old fortified town. Dating from the 13th century, this is one of the most typical of the Occitan bastides, with its orthonormal layout. A number of old houses have survived:
  • Renaissance house known as Maison Bernays or Maison Jean-Imbert de Dardennes

  • Maison Gaubert, rue Marcellin-Fabre. Built after the fire of 1497
  • Stair tower with flamboyant Gothic door, rue Étroite
  • Maison Combettes with 16th-century square tower, rue Sergent-Bories
  • Louis XIII-style house, rue Camille-Roques

  • House built in 1754 for François Obscur, a wealthy merchant, place de la Fontaine (now the Musée Urbain-Cabrol)
    Louis XVI-style house, rue Rouzies-Labastide
  • Griffoul fountain, built in 1336 by the Consuls, place de la Fontaine

Place Notre Dame. This square, entirely surrounded by medieval arcades, forms the heart of the town. The former Saint-Martial hospital is located here, and was built next to the collegiate church in 1348-1349 during the Great Plague.

It comprises: Maison Pomairols or Maison du Président Raynal, built after the 1497 fire that ravaged the square. Trebosc, Soulie, Salingardes, du Rieu, Ricard, Palis, Maravelle, Labarie, Ganac, Breton, Bouillac, Armand and Almaric houses.

The pavement of Place Notre-Dame was completely renovated in 2013 and now houses a musical dry fountain.

Consul bridge. Also known as Pont-Vieux, it was built on the Aveyron river around 1321 to replace an earlier bridge. It was originally topped by two towers, as can be seen on the seal of the consuls of Villefranche. These towers were demolished in 1730. At the end of the bridge, the entrance to the town was guarded by a large tower surmounting the gate, which also served as a prison. This tower was demolished between 1780 and 1790.

Château de Graves. This small Renaissance château was built in 1545 by Jean Imbert Dardenne, a wealthy local who made his fortune exploiting the local copper mines.

Religious buildings

  • The collegiate church of Notre-Dame dates back to the 13th and 16th centuries. Its impressive 58-meter-high bell tower dominates the town center.

  • Former Chartreuse Saint-Sauveur abbey. A 15th-century building with two cloisters, one of which is in the flamboyant Gothic style.
  • Chapel of the Pénitents Noirs de la Sainte-Croix. This chapel dates from the 17th century. The wooden vault is entirely painted: a rare example of Baroque construction in Rouergue.
  • Saint-Jacques Church in Villefranche-de-Rouergue. Villefranche-de-Rouergue lies on the Camino de Santiago from Le Puy-en-Velay. A chapel was built in 1455 by the consuls. A brotherhood was founded in 1493 to look after the site and the hospital that welcomed pilgrims. The commune has recently acquired the chapel for use as an information center on the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela.

  • Saint-Augustin Church, Villefranche-de-Rouergue. This is the church of the former hermitage of Saint Augustin, built from 1520 onwards. Today’s Place des Augustins was an integral part of the hermitage.
  • Chapel of the Blue Penitents. The Saint-Jérôme chapel of the Pénitents bleus is a remarkable building for its architectural quality and historical importance in the religious life of Villefranche-de-Rouergue. In 1976, the commune bought the building and in 1979 carried out the initial work to transform it into a library and then a media library. The latter was officially inaugurated on November 28, 1981.

Restaurants

There is 1 Michelin list restaurant in the city: L’Atelier 5 place Louis-Fontanges, Modern Cuisine

How to get to?

The railway station has rail connections to Toulouse-Matabiau and Figeac.

From Paris: 6 hr 38 min (612 km) via A20

From Toulouse: 1 hr 51 min (129 km) via D926

From Andorra: 4 hr 11 min (310 km) via D926

From Barcelona: 5 hr 33 min (509 km) via AP-7

From Madrid: 9 hr 32 min (928 km) via A-1 and A64

From Monaco: 6 hr 9 min (567 km) via A8

From Moscow: 35 hr (3,386 km) via E30/M1

From Belgrade: 18 hr 28 min (1,871 km) via E70

From Istanbul: 29 hr (2,820 km) via E70

From Bern: 7 hr 46 min (770 km) via A75

Main information

Area: 46 km2

Population: 11 720

Coordinates: 44°21′12″N 2°02′06″E

Language: French

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

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