Saint-Just Basilica in Valcabrère, recycled Roman ruins, no cheese shops

Saint-Just Basilica is cozily nestled in the tiny village of Valcabrère, population 164, in the Haute-Garonne department of Southwest France.  This small Romanesque church built in 11th -12th centuries is handsomely proportioned, with well-preserved portal sculptures.  As if the setting wasn’t picturesque enough, what with the red chickens clucking about, antique barns and strategically placed Cyprus trees, the remains of a ancient Roman town surrounded the church.

A walk through Valcabrère and nearby Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges was an exhilarating experience, in part because there were so few distractions that I actually focused on the landscape and architecture.   The area is so rural that there were no bakeries, cheese shops or markets for me to drool over.  (I confess that many of our cultural pilgrimages in France have rather rapidly digressed into stinky cheese pilgrimages.  When I get around French regional food I’m like that golden retriever who fails obedience school by running after all the treats.)

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Graveyard in front of Saint-Just.

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This early Christian symbol, called a chrisme, is on the entry gate to the church.

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The Basilica is a stop on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Epic win!

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The pleasing portal: Christ inside a mandorla blesses us, while holding a book in his left hand.  There are saints carved into the pillars by the door, and impressive capital carvings above the pillars.  Note the traces of paint lingering on the capitals.

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Clearly a Roman-era carving, recycled from one of the former Roman ruins.

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Roman ruins close to the Basilica.

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Scenic barns and outbuildings of Valcabrère.

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Just keep following the seashell….

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This sign needs a monocle.

 

How we got to Valcabrère: train from Toulouse to Montréjeau, bus from Montréjeau to Loures-Barousse, taxi from Loures-Barousse to Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, on foot from Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges to Valcabrère

Where we slept: Hostellerie des Vallées. Price: €40 for a double.  Recommended: (doesn’t matter, since it’s the only place to stay in the area during winter.)

 

 

 

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14 comments

  1. alexvrince · · Reply

    Reblogged this on an everyday life blog.

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  2. That was quite a trek you had to reach it…but well worth it.

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    1. The trek is half the fun (and the views from the bus were gorgeous!)

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  3. LOL at the “this sign needs a monocle”. The French have so many great signs; when we were in Normandy last fall I had an entire album devoted to signs I didn’t understand. We were driving a rental car and were concerned at first, but nothing disastrous happened so it became amusing.

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    1. I’d love to see that album–you should post it online.

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      1. I think hubby has them on his cell phone – I’ll have to dig them up!

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  4. Love this church, especially the pier statues next to the portal. And from there you can see across to the Sainte-Marie de Saint-Bertrand de Comminges in the distance.

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    1. Of course your photos of the church and pier statues must be spectacular, as per usual.

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  5. Always enjoy reading your posts.

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    1. Thank you for reading browney237!

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  6. This is a small population of a small village, with wood lid goes into a small house so special and what is its purpose?

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    1. I don’t know for certain, but perhaps to store farm equipment. It is an agricultural area.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I see,It looks traditional and original. 🙂

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