An exceptional cultural heritage
In 2008, the French Ministry of Culture awarded the country of the Aure and Louron valleys the label "Pays d'Art et d'Histoire", for its unique heritage with preserved authenticity and its actions to enhance it. The aim of this award is to make these Pyrenean treasures known to as many people as possible. Listed Romanesque churches, wash houses, medieval houses and square towers... These many buildings have overcome the test of time and wars by their natural isolation. Let's discover together some of the jewels of the destination Pyrénées2vallées.
The Chapel of the Templars of Aragnouet
Classified by UNESCO since 1998 as one of the Pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela in France, the Saint-Jean de la Combe Hospital, often called "the Chapel of the Templars of Aragnouet", is a must in the region. Unfortunately, skiers riding up to Piau-Engaly pass by without often knowing its beauty. Built in the 12th century, the chapel has been the subject of several renovation campaigns until very recently, it is now more beautiful than ever. Just next door was an old hospice run by the religious of St. John of Jerusalem. They provided board and lodging for pilgrims and travellers passing through the Aure Valley.
Visit this unique witness of the Middle Ages with its typical Romanesque architecture all year round. In summer, discover the Templar Chapel with a guide who will tell you all the stories and anecdotes of the past (on reservation, free visit the rest of the year).
St. Lawrence Church in Jézeau
Overlooking the village of Jézeau, the charming 12th century Saint-Laurent church is located on the Chemin du Piémont towards Compostelle. This Romanesque building is now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Historic Monument, you will quickly understand why. From the outside, you are welcomed by its bell tower-wall with twinned bays and its 12th century tympanum-chrism. Inside, a grandiose spectacle opens up to you. The richly decorated altarpiece, present throughout the height of the apse, attracts you. Located in the choir, its Renaissance style contrasts with the rest of the building. Then look up and admire the sublime medieval paintings under the vault, still intact. They tell several biblical scenes, including the Last Judgment and the miracle of the hanged man attributed to Santiago.
This superb Romanesque church has survived the centuries: it was once surrounded by an old village that was totally destroyed by a fire in 1532. Frame, vault, aisle and bell tower were later added and renovated.
Visit Saint-Laurent Church in Jézeau all year round with guides from the Pays d'Art et d'Histoire.
The Maison des Lys of Arreau
The Maison des Lys is one of the emblems of the village of Arreau and the Aure valley, with its wooden facade and its many fleurs-de-lis. A rich Auroise family, the first owner of this Gothic building, had them sculpted in homage to King Louis XI of France. The fleurs-de-lis stand out from the façade, especially since the Maison des Lys has a marble base that contrasts with the wood in height. Classified as a Historic Monument, this house is a vestige of the many trade exchanges with the Spanish neighbour in the 16th century, then in the middle of the "golden century".
Meet the enthusiasts, guardians of these treasures
These buildings and many others are preserved on a daily basis by tour guides and heritage leaders. Throughout the year, the Ancizan Cultural Centre organises activities and events to pass on valuable knowledge about these monuments: guided tours, travelling exhibitions, walking tours, workshops, etc. Let a guide tell you about the local wonders during a visit to the villages and monuments of our valleys. An unforgettable experience in your stay in the heart of the Pyénées2vallées! For families, workshops, trail games and itinerant stories are organized all year round. On the walking tours, you can discover the history of the valleys independently thanks to more than 200 descriptive plaques scattered in the 46 villages of the destination and a mobile app "Patrimoine Aure-Louron". Do you know about winter visits? Throughout the ski season, enjoy a guided walk in a mountain village followed by a snack by the fire, ideal to warm up after a day in the snow!
More information on the Pays d'Art et d'Histoire website:
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Let yourself be tempted by the suggestions of Pyrénées2vallées and enjoy a life-size experience in our destination.