A few months ago, I travelled with my family to the quaint village of Conques, located within the Midi-Pyrénées region in France. Although we didn’t stay there overnight, I wish we had. Just driving past this hidden, picturesque site is breath-taking, with the magnificent architecture of Abbey-Church of Saint-Foy at the heart.
On arrival, the intwined, medieval streets lead to the village centre. Cosy shops selling local produce, candles, fresh bread and souvenirs left their doors open invitingly. The smells of freshly baked food and faint humming of conversation really made it feel like a warm, French village. Each of the gardens and terraces, although small, accentuated the wonderful character of the village.
The village itself is located within a valley, with its name originating from Old French- Conche, which is from the Latin Concha shell. The narrow streets and hillside location deters many vehicles from entering, which has allowed relatively new paved roads and prevented a lot of construction work to the historic village.
The history of St. Foy Abbey-Chuch began as a stopping point for many pilgrims who were travelling to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. But in 886, a theft introduced the relics of St. Foy. A monk from Conques disguised himself as a highly regarded monk in Agen for almost 10 years in order to steal the relics, but was unsuccessful. The original building of the monastery was built by monks from Spain, however it was later knocked down in order to build one much larger to accommodate the relics from Agen. The exterior ornamentation of the Abbey-Church included many images of doom, in order to remind the pilgrims of their focus on the pilgrimage. One of the many legends set in Conques includes St. George the dragon slayer, with the belief that his arm is located somewhere in the village. Although I didn’t have the opportunity, during peak tourist seasons tours are available to discover the Abbey-Church, particularly on its upper level, with live music and creative lighting particularly at night.
To end my visit, the Brasserie, located just outside of the Abbey-Church, is a perfect spot to people-watch and relax in the sun.