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Conques France is indeed a worthy road trip destination. Meander to Conques, France on a twisting two-lane country road as it carves its way through hills and river valleys. Stop to take a picture of a church on a hill and anything can happen!
1. Where Is Conques France?
The tiny town of Conques France is in a valley in the region of Aveyron France. My daughter and I leave from Sarlat-le-Canéda with a plan to stop in Conques for a few hours.
2. The Encounter In Aveyron, France
The approaching car slows right down and pulls up within hand’s reach of the driver’s window. I am pulled off to the side of the road in Aveyron, France while my daughter Emily snaps a few photos.
The window unrolls and a curious, age-lined face looks me straight in the eye. “Étrangère?” he asks.
Just one word. I smile. Yes, I am a foreigner although in my heart I wish it was different.
With his rural accent, he asks if I speak French. My nod unleashes a volley of chatter. I am lost. So much this trip has been lost in translation.
I realize that he is insistent we make a detour on our way to Conques, one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.
3. La Vinzelle | Worthy Stop Near Conques France
Ten minutes later as we are driving through a town, our French guide passes us again. He rolls down his window and calls out the name of the village he has suggested, La Vinzelle. The twinkle in his eye accompanied by his serious demeanour have it duly added to the itinerary in seconds.
We turn tight corners and lose speed on the hills with our little gutless rental and then all of a sudden there is a sign for La Vinzelle. It’s a hard left off the road and a narrow laneway leads straight towards the heavens.
We continue to climb wondering what lies ahead. There is not a soul about.
We spy the bench first.
And there, tucked into the side of the gloriously green gorge is La Vinzelle, France. A quaint sight in the middle of nowhere hanging over the lush valley.
We have stumbled on a piece of paradise in the countryside of Aveyron France. A slight breeze is rustling the branches and the orchestral strains of birdsong fill the air.
I tip my beret to serendipity and a stranger fiercely proud to share a hidden gem in his own backyard.
Conques France is calling.
4. Conques France | Aveyron’s Jewel
The road continues its serpentine route and I pull off to let some cars pass. Below, we treasure our first glimpse of Conques France. It is a precious view of this sacred, medieval town.
Conques France is indeed nestled into a peaceful gorge shaped like a shell, after which it is aptly named. In Latin the word “concha” and in Occitan “concas” both mean shell.
We continue winding our way down towards Conques Aveyron and pay the €5 fee for parking (good for an entire year). A short walk into the village, accompanied by an ensemble of cheeping and chirping, is the perfect segue to slip back into medieval times.
The tiny cobbled streets of Conques France lead past half-timbered houses that are still lived in today.
It’s tranquil in Conques, France. The rushing River Dourdou heard but not seen, the joyful birds calling to one another and the ringing bells of L’Abbaye Sainte-Foy are the background accompaniment to a stroll through Conques.
5. The Abbey Church Of Sainte-Foy In Conques France
The Abbey Church of Sainte-Foy has been the centre of life in Conques for centuries.
The relics of Saint Foy, a young girl martyred in the 4th century, were brought to Conques in 883. With the remains of St. Foy, Conques became one of the main stops on the Saint-Jacques de Compestelle pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It’s over one thousand kilometres from Conques France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
The relics of Sainte-Foy are held in a golden reliquary that is housed in the cloisters of the monastery beside the Abbey Church of Sainte-Foy. Many pilgrims make their way to Conques France to visit her remains for a blessing.
Over the western entrance to the Abbey Church of Sainte-Foy is The Last Judgement tympanum. Traces of colour can still be seen on the carved figures (apparently 124 in all). It’s fascinating to study what’s going on. Christ sits in the middle with heaven on his right and hell on his left.
Conques is tiny in size but mighty in spirit. The tranquil reverence felt in Conques France, cloistered in the Aveyron hills, is unforgettable.