Lautrec fortified village - Land of Plenty
Lautrec in the Land of Plenty
Lautrec is a medieval walled city located in the heart of the former Viscountcy of Toulouse-Lautrec.
Amazingly, their descendant, the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, never set foot in Lautrec!
The village spreads on the slopes and at the foot of the Colline de la Salette.
The hill's strategic situation attracted men since the earliest times and was inhabited without interruption.
Archaeological excavations indeed uncovered traces of a Neolithic settlement in the lower village.
A small Archaeological Museum, located in the town hall, exhibits the various artifacts.
The Romans developed the village and built a road which is still in use, by the old wash-house in the lower village.
It also seems that during the Middle-Ages people had to pay a toll when entering or passing through the village.
The name Lautrec indeed evolved from the Occitan word L'autreg meaning octroi (toll).
The cultivation of pastel woad, introduced in the region in the 13th century, brought constant prosperity to the village throughout the Middle Ages.
As a result Lautrec and its region became known as Pays de Cocagne - Land of Plenty.
Lautrec ranks among the "Plus beaux villages de France"
The ancient walled city of Lautrec ranks among the "most beautiful villages in France".
However, all that is left of its 13th century fortifications are the ramparts and the Porte de la Caussade.
This gate, the only remaining out of 8, opens into Rue Mercadial.
This lane leads to the Place des Halles, the market square and its corbelled timbered houses.
A nature trail leads from the village to the mill, orientation table and Cross located on the Colline de la Salette.
The Moulin de la Salette has become the village's iconic image.
It was built in the 17th century on the foundations of an older mill erected in 1396.
Restored in 1991, it is the only remaining mill out of the 9 mills that operated in Lautrec in the early 19th century.
It is also one of the last mills in operation in the Occitanie-Midi-Pyrénées Region.
The Calvaire de La Salette (Cross) marks the site of the old castle.
It boasts prime views over the Lacaune Hills, Montagne Noire, Castres Plain and even the distant Pyrénées Mountains range on clear days!
Saint-Rémy Collegiate Church
The Eglise Sainte-Marie de la Paix, as it was initially called, is another landmarks.
Sicard Saquet and Bernard Cavaser, two notables from Lautrec, funded its construction.
The first stone was laid in 1394.
The church was enlarged in 1521 and again in 1625 in order to accommodate the Chapter of St-Pierre de Burlats.
It was consequently upgraded to a Collegiate and dedicated to Saint-Rémy.
It contains a wealth of religious architecture and furniture such as the baptismal font topped by a white marble sculpture.
This sculpture dates from 1824; it represents John the Baptist baptizing Jesus and is listed.
One of the most spectacular features is the 18th century vault of the nave which is framed by 8 elegant lateral chapels.
Jacques Pauthe indeed painted it in 1852 with a splendid trompe-l'oeil decor restored in the 1990's.
The chancel boasts a marble altar crowned by a 13m high gilded wood canopy that supports a dome surmounted by a cross.
The Collegiate contains also paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries, a wooden lectern and a big medallion representing Bishop St-Rémy.
Saint-Remy Collegiate Church is a listed Historical Monument.
Coordinates: Lat 43.707263 - Long 2.138453