Belmont sur Rance, a site inhabited since ancient times
Belmont sur Rance was known as Beau-Mont (beautiful hill) until the French Revolution.
It is located between the Rougier of Camarès and the Lacaune Mountains in the west of the department of Aveyron.
Belmont region has always been rich in game and attracted humans since the Neolithic Era.
Some 4000 years ago, these distant folks indeed carved monoliths, statues-menhirs, in an 8km radius around Belmont sur Rance.
Archaeological excavations uncovered also numerous fragments of Gallo-Roman pottery, coins and many burial sites.
Foundation of the Abbey of Belmont sur Rance
The Abbaye de Beaumont sur Rance was founded much later, in 942, on a hillside overlooking the river Rance.
The Countess of Albi richly endowed the abbey, which remained under the patronage of her descendants throughout the Middle-Ages.
The abbey adopted the rule of St-Augustine in 1146.
The town was fortified during the Hundred Years War in order to resist the English invasion.
It was, however, placed under British sovereignty from 1360 to 1370 after the signature of the Treaty of Brétigny.
The church was enlarged with two additional chapels in the early 16th century in order to adjust to the increase of population.
However, these chapels still prove inadequate, so the church was completely rebuilt between 1515 and 1524 with the local red sandstone.
The carillon was added in 1545 and two additional floors were built in the early 18th century.
The abbey was partially looted and sacked during the Wars of Religion (1562 to 1598.)
The abbey was once more sacked during the French Revolution; the bells were melted and a statue of the Virgin Mary beheaded!
Flamboyant-Gothic Collegiate Church of Belmont sur Rance
The Collegiate Church of Belmont sur Rance is a superb illustration of Flamboyant-Gothic architecture.
Eleven lateral chapels, richly ornate, frame the nave which was rebuilt in the early 1930s (so was the roof).
The 74m high belfry is very impressive and can be seen from afar.
A 32m high spire, topped by a 1.80 m high statue of St-Michael slaying the dragon, caps it.
An Ecclesiastic school devoted to the training of aspirants to the priesthood was founded in 1760.
This school thrived until the French Revolution, as the abbey was sacked.
The school reopened in the early 19th century in the former Château du Prévôt.
It became a small seminar placed under the patronage of the Bishop of Cahors.
A chapel, dormitory and additional wing were built in the 1850s in order to enlarge the seminar.
The Seminar of Belmont sur Rance operated until 1964.
Notre Dame du Sériguet Expiatory Chapel
When in Belmont sur Rance, you should visit the unassuming Notre-Dame du Sériguet.
The tiny chapel, located on the Colline du Sérignet, boasts prime views of Belmont, Lacaune Mountains and the surrounding wooded hills.
The early 16th century Our Lady of Sériguet is an expiatory chapel!
It was erected after the deadly conflict that pitted the residents of the surrounding villages during the Wars of Religion.
The inhabitants indeed remained committed to their Catholic faith all through that terrible episode of history.
The chapel even hosted clandestine Masses during the French Revolution!
The apse was rebuilt in the 17th century, and extensive restoration work undertaken between 1960 and 1990 (interior, stained glass and awning).
Coordinates Belmont sur Rance: Lat 43.816844 – Long 2.755136
Chapelle du Seriguet: Lat 43.814895 – Long 2.756727