The Village

Medieval magic in the sky

Welcome to Cordes-sur-Ciel

Cordes-sur-Ciel, located 85km north east of Toulouse, is regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in France. As one of the gems of the region, its unique 13th and 14th century Gothic houses are reminiscent of Renaissance Tuscany, and the cobbled streets, large Halle (open air marketplace) and sandstone coloured buildings are evocative of an earlier era.

In 2014 Cordes sur Ciel was awarded the accolade of Le Village Préféré des Français


A brief history:
Cordes, the first bastide town built by Count Raimon VII of Toulouse in 1222, was constructed to protect the scattered population from conflict during the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars.

Cordes grew quickly during the 13th century, and as it grew, so did the number of rampart walls surrounding the village, with five lines of fortifications required over time. As hostilities reduced, prosperity came to Cordes with the growth of the cloth, wool and leathercraft industries, alongside trade and finance. Wealthy merchant and noble families built the magnificent Gothic residences in the 13th and 14th centuries, for which Cordes is famous.

Conflict and devastation, brought about by changes to economic circumstances, wars and the plagues, saw the power and population of Cordes reduced by the start of the French Revolution, and the village went into a decline. In the late 19th century its fortunes revived as it became an important centre of the machine embroidery trade for 50 years. Then, in the 1940’s, a group of artists, led by Yves Brayer, settled in Cordes and brought new life to the village. This artistic influence still thrives in Cordes today.

There is another renewal underway as more people realise what a jewel this village is, undertaking the slow and arduous process of restoring many of the buildings, and ensuring the ongoing survival of this beautiful spot. The annual medieval festival of the Grand Fauconnier is held on 14 July and is followed by Music sur Ciel, held in the Eglise Saint-Michel. Other festivals include gastronomic and Christmas fetes.  In summer there are several evening markets, the march nocturne, featuring local produce and music.

In 1993 the town was renamed Cordes-sur-Ciel (Cordes in the sky) to reflect the illusion created by the mists settling in the valley below, of a village floating above the clouds. A brief history of Cordes can be found onThe Arts & Luxury Travel Weblog

Village Facilities:
The Office de Tourism site for Cordes has a great deal of useful and interesting information in English as well as French. Details of local sites of interest, the artists, gardens and sporting facilities can be found here.

There is a weekly market on Saturday mornings in the lower town, on Place de la Bouteillerie. It always has a good range of seasonal fruit and vegetables, cheeses, fish, etc. If seeking a butcher, we suggest Chez Dennis, on av du 11 novembre 1918 , for his veal if nothing else. The best bread is at the La Pétrie Boulangerie, near the pharmacy. Take the trolley, walk down the hill to the market, and if the walk back is too daunting, catch the Petit Train up to Porte de Jane. Francis, who owns the Cave St Michel in the cité, provides a great range of wine and sound advice. There are good local restaurants as well; we have compiled a detailed information booklet which is available in the house on your arrival.

With 3 cash machines, a bar in the lower town, 3 small supermarkets, a newsagent and a post office in addition to the butcher and 2 bakers, most needs of the visitor can be met close to our home.

Sporting Facilities:
Near to the village you can find golf at Golf d’Albi Lasbordes or Golf de Florentin Gaillac, kayaking, fishing and a swimming pool (a small fee applies) in the camp site Le Garissou in Les Cabannes from June through to September, or else year round swimming at Espace Nautique Atlantis in Albi. Laguepie, 10km north of Cordes, has a swimming pontoon on the river Viaur in season, with a lovely picnic and play area. There are paddle boat and other activities. Nearby Monesties has a lake, and there are also indoor and outdoor pools in Gaillac. In winter, you can go skiing an hour north, near Rodez.

There are also many beautiful walking trails – for more information see sites such as Randonees Midi Pyrenees  Rando-marche or this ordnance map site which pinpoints many walks that are detailed on a map that is provided in the Maison.

Facts and figures about Cordes can be found here.


Maison des Oiseaux 18 Rue de la Boucarié, 81170 Cordes-sur-Ciel France
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