The Five Knights Templar Commanderies in Aveyron
Knights Templar Commanderies – Sainte-Eulalie-de-Cernon
The Knights Templar Commanderies are located on the arid and semi-deserted Causse du Larzac.
The Templars founded their fortified command posts during the Crusades, along the roads that led the pilgrims to the Mediterranean ports where they embarked for the Holy Land.
Ste-Eulalie de Cernon was the most important of the five Knights Templar Commanderies they built in Aveyron.
It was in fact the Order’s local headquarters.
Ste-Eulalie de Cernon is nestled in the heart of the charming Cernon Valley.
Beautifully well preserved, it has retained most of its ramparts, towers, gates, stairs, and watchtowers.
The medieval stone houses were enlarged, linked together and restored in order to retain their original medieval architecture.
Narrow and covered alleys swirl between stone walls; corner turrets converted into appended rooms appear here and there.
A small statue of the Virgin Mary tops the portal of the church, on Place du Commandeur.
The square is centered on a simple yet elegant 17th century fountain.
Coordinates Sainte Eulalie de Cernon: Lat 43.982347 – Long 3.134582
Knights Templar Commanderies – La Cavalerie
La Cavalerie was an annex of Ste-Eulalie de Cernon and therefore the second most important commanderie of Aveyron.
The Protestants savaged the town during the Wars of Religion of the 16th century.
They indeed destroyed the castle and and severely damaged the ramparts.
However, the new church, which was erected against the rampart during the 18th century, contains vestiges of the Templars’ church.
The fortified town has since been restored and has retained its austere beauty.
It is indeed a superb illustration of the medieval Caussenarde architecture.
The main gate or Tour Carrée is a square tower; it has retained its portcullis and leads on to the church square – Place de l’Eglise.
La Cavalerie boasts a wealth of 15th and 17th century houses and mansions.
Some flank the ramparts, others bear the coat of arms of old families, many are simple shepherds’ dwellings recognizable for their vaulted sheepfolds and stone staircases.
La Cavalerie is truly stunning, however, lacks animation.
There are indeed no artisan workshops nor shops, with the exception of a souvenir shop on the outer southern side of the rampart.
Visitors wander the semi deserted lanes and their houses with closed shutters.
It’s a pity because La Cavalerie is only a stone’s throw from the A75-E11.
Coordinates La Cavalerie: Lat 44.008658 – Long 3.156582
Knights Templar Commanderies – La Couvertoirade
La Couvertoirade was the second major annex of Ste-Eulalie de Cernon.
It stands along the road that took the pilgrims to the ports of the Mediterranean.
The Hospitallers took over La Couvertoirade after the dissolution of the Knights Templar Order in 1312, and built their church on the hillside.
They reinforced the fortifications around 1440, during the Hundred Years War.
Nestled behind tall ramparts, the town developed steadily and hardly suffered during the Wars of Religion.
Most houses therefore date from the 15th century and are representative of the simple yet functional Caussenarde architecture.
One of this style’s characteristics are the vaulted sheepfolds at street level with the dwellings above.
Straight stone staircases built against the wall lead to a small balcony then the front door.
La Couvertoirade cemetery is quite fascinating!
It indeed contains eight-century old tombstones carved with Templar Cross or other symbols.
The village suffered minimum damage during WWI and WWII.
It was beautifully restored and is quite lively.
Many craftsmen indeed opened their workshops in the old sheepfolds and revived ancestral traditions.
La Couvertoirade is ranked among the Plus Beaux Villages de France.
Coordinates La Couvertoirade: Lat 43.912943 – Long 3.316610
Knights Templar Commanderies – Le Viala-du-Pas-de-Jaux
Le Viala-du-Pas-de-Jaux can be disappointed at first, because there is no rampart!
In fact this commanderie never had any as it always had a handful of inhabitants.
Le Vial-duPas-de-Jaux is in fact an impressive defense tower.
Indeed, the Hospitallers erected it in 1430, during the Hundred Years War, in order to monitor the area.
In time of danger, men and cattle took refuge into the 30m tower and its fortified enclosure.
When peace returned, the tower served as a granary to store the estate’s precious cereals.
The granary-tower in Le Viala du Pas de Jaux has long since lost its defensive use despite its portcullis.
It has 6 floors and is considered the highest tower of the area.
It indeed boasts prime views of the Causse du Larzac.
The most understated of the Knights Templar Commanderies in Aveyron, it is really worth the detour!
Coordinates Le Viala du Pas de Jaux: Lat 43.956993 – Long 3.056391
Knights Templar Commanderies – Saint-Jean-d’Alcas
The abbess of the Cistercian abbey of Nonenque (a few miles south) built Saint-Jean-d’Alcas, the fifth of the Knights Templar Commanderies in Aveyron.
She allowed residents of the surrounding hamlets and villages to build a fortress in order to protect themselves, their cattle and their properties during the Hundred Years War.
This picturesque commanderie is laid out along two parallel streets lined with beautifully restored houses protected by tall ramparts and four towers.
The minimalist decoration of the village’s small chapel recalls the principles of the Cistercian order.
St-Jean d’Alcas is fully restored, however, it is another semi-deserted village, and we can once again regret the lack of artisan workshops.
Coordinates Saint Jean d’Alcas: Lat 43.927952 – Long 3.005134
Tip: The Knights Templar Commanderies in Aveyron tour is easily done in a day
Department of Aveyron