Eglise Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Toulongergues
Toulongergues, a tiny village with a pre-Romanesque church
The Eglise Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Toulongergues is located on the territory of Villeneuve d'Aveyron, some 4km south of the town center.
Toulongergues is a small hamlet.
However, its church is one of the oldest, not only in Southern France, but in Western Europe!
The pre-Romanesque Eglise Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Toulongergues was indeed built during the 10th century.
It stands next to the Château de Toulongergues, the 15th century former priory.
The church was converted into a barn during the French Revolution.
It was therefore severely mutilated and altered.
However, some architectural and decorative features managed to escape destruction.
As the name suggests, the church was dedicated to the apostles Peter and Paul.
A small column, located in the apse, is carved with a 50cm character representing St. Paul.
Large fragments of 11th century frescoes are still visible in the church choir and in some alcoves of the northern wall.
Experts believe these murals are the oldest known to date in Southern France.
The Eglise Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Toulongergues was therefore in an advanced state of ruin when the town of Villeneuve d'Aveyron acquired it in 1984.
It was fortunately listed Historical Monument in 1988 and restored under the supervision of Bâtiments de France.
The church is only open to the public every Tuesday afternoon during in July and August.
However, check with the Office de Tourisme in Villeneuve d'Aveyron, as guided visits for groups of at least 10 people are also available with prior booking during the rest of the year.
That said, its unique architecture with rounded corners is worth the short detour.
Department of Aveyron
Coordinates: Lat 44.404598 - Long 2.027047
Photo Wikimedia Commons: Church and Prior's house