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“Le Grand Ecuyer” is one of three gothic gems of Cordes-sur-Ciel, the Cathar city founded by Raymond, Count of Toulouse, in 1222. Often presented as his hunting lodge, Le Grand Ecuyer was most likely constructed in 1320 by a local noble family, after which it housed prominent and wealthy merchants.

The sculptures which decorate it, almost to excess, are some of the most delicately executed, most varied in their subject, and among the most interesting in France. The facade of the handsome portal groups together 17 statues in bas-relief, “haut-relief and rondes-bosses” with no gargoyles, representing animals, chimeras and hybrids. The “baies géminées en ogive” are also finely decorated with small animals crouching or crawling, with foliage deep in the gorges bordering the small arches. The horse in the upper right explains the name Prosper Merimée gave the monument (the Grand Esquire?) when he rediscovered Cordes-sur-Ciel in the early 19th century.

Le Grand Ecuyer was classified as a historic monument in 1907. It was part of the renaissance of Cordes-sur-Ciel in the 1950s under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Cavalié, then Mr. and Mrs. Van Ackere, with the judicious counsel of Claire Targuebayre. It has hosted numerous prominent guests, such as Albert Camus, who stayed with María Casarès in 1957. Camus wrote of the city “In Cordes, everything is beautiful, even regret”. The city’s powerful appeal was reconfirmed in the 1980s and 1990s, when the four-star hotel hosted numerous political, artistic, economic and sports personalities with Chef Thuriès.

Le Grand Ecuyer became a private residence in 2021 and its new proprietors plan to restore its cultural and international luster. From the height of this grand building, one can see one of the most beautiful cities in France.

Cordes-sur-Ciel

 

Cordes sur Ciel fascinates everyone who discovers it because it is above all a vision, that of a city reaching the sky.

Founded in 1222 by the Count of Toulouse, it is also a major site of History and Art, where men’s memory has been engraved into the old stones and has outlived time.

With its exceptional setting and its remarkable architectural legacy, Cordes has become one of the most significant medieval cities in France and one of the most beautiful jewels of the European heritage. Its way of life, its authentic environ ment have attracted artists and craftsmen and still inspire them.

From the vineyards of Gaillac to the forest of La Grésigne, the Cordes sur Ciel area overflows with interesting places to discover and will grant you pure moments of excitement.

Cordes sur Ciel is a jewel of gothic art. The set of gothic houses in the high street (Grand rue Raimond VII) is exceptional in France.

Thanks to the trade of leather and wollen cloth, wealthy merchants had lavishly decorated houses built at the end of the 13th century. The owners lived on the first and second floor. On the ground floor, some arcades led to the shop, the studio, storage rooms or stairs to the upper floor. Recent restoration erased traces of modernization left on the gothic houses in the 18th and 19th century.

The decorated front walls were built with many stones finely cut and assembled. Grey, ochre or mauve sandstones were extracted in the village of Salles, 10 km far from Cordes.  Among all the gothic houses of Cordes, three are particularly well decorated : the Maison du Grand Fauconnier, the Maison du Grand Ecuyer and  the  Maison  du  Grand Veneur. The  latter owns its fame to the hunting scene sculpted on the second level.

Source: Cordes-sur-Ciel City Hall

 

Cordes-sur-Ciel

« La citée cathare aux 100 ogives ».
Located at 25 kms from Albi and Gaillac and at 1h from Toulouse by road.

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