Brousse le Chateau - Raspes du Tarn - Aveyron
Brousse le Chateau along the Raspes du Tarn
Brousse le Chateau commands a section of the river known as Raspes du Tarn.
Over the millennia the turbulent river carved deep canyons in the local black schist.
Les Raspes du Tarn spread over 40km downstream of Millau and boast breathtaking landscapes.
Cliffs indeed end abruptly above the gorges where the Tarn flows in swift currents and suddenly breaks on small pebble beaches.
Villages and ancient castles, built with the local ocher stone, cling on the hillsides.
Brousse le Chateau, ranked among the "Plus beaux villages de France"
Brousse le Chateau is indeed beautiful!
The charming D902 road leads to Brousse le Chateau and runs along the river bed along shady groves and bushes.
The mill and dam, at the foot of the castle, suddenly appear through the dense foliage.
Then comes the bridge that spans the Tarn and offers prime views of Brousse le Chateau.
The medieval village clings on the steep slopes below the castle, at the confluence of the Tarn and small river Alrance.
Brousse has retained authenticity and character and ranks among the "most beautiful villages in France".
However, you'll have to leave your car in a designated park along the banks as the village is only accessible on foot.
The small Gothic stone bridge spanning the Alrance is indeed the only access to the perched village.
Brousse le Chateau, a medieval village
The Pont crouput, as the locals call it, is shaped like a circumflex accent, high and sharp.
It boasts excellent view of the exuberant mass of willows, hydrangeas and aquatic plants that grow below, on the bank of the Alrance.
As you walk through the village, the lush vegetation gives way to terraced gardens.
Then, as you come closer to the castle, the gardens disappear and are replaced by tiny courtyards.
Each courtyard, each section of wall, each stair, each porch railing or window is adorned with a multitude of flowers that showcase the old stones.
Laurels and roses mingle with cascading nasturtiums, geraniums or impatiens.
Stone houses topped with lauze roofs (slabs of local stone) flank each other.
They border picturesque cobblestone lanes that lead to the church and the castle.
Jean II d'Arpajon, the lord of Brousse le Chateau, fortified the church and its belfry during the 15th century.
The village was along the road to Santiago de Compostela and therefore accommodated the pilgrims on their stopover.
The cemetery is tiny and overlooks the river.
There is a stone bench, so you can rest mid way up and appreciate the untamed beauty and of the village.
Brousse le Chateau - the castle
The castle is perched high on the oval-shaped promontory and commands the tumultuous Tarn.
It was built during the 9th century, enlarged in the 12th century and altered several times until the 17th century.
It was the first residence of the prestigious Counts of Rouergue then of the Arpajon family.
Nestled behind solid ramparts, it seems to come straight out of the Middle-Ages.
The impressive rampart is in perfect condition and you can access the walkway.
It has indeed retained its battlements and five out of the six original massive defensive towers.
The inner courtyard has obviously changed since the medieval period.
However, it is easy to imagine it full of servants going about their daily routine.
Lords and knights mounted on their steeds or a noble lady leaning out her window could appear at any moment.
Indeed, time seems to have stopped!
The main platform and the old courtyard have been landscaped into a simple garden in order to showcase the old stones.
The castle stands on the enclosure's highest ground.
The French Renaissance building is elegant, yet quite understated compared to the castles of the Loire Valley.
The rooms are large and bright with high ceilings, however, lack the lavish decorum of the Renaissance architecture.
The castle is now a museum which offers permanent and temporary exhibitions about the history of the village.
The Foyer Rural de Brousse le Chateau is in charge of the animation and management.
Brousse le Chateau is a listed Historical Monument.
Department of Aveyron
Coordinates Brousse le Chateau: Lat 43.997429 - Long 2.623774