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Discovering Najac: A Mini Rocamadour

On my way back to Uzès from my first visit to the Dordogne, I received an email from my good friend, artist Andy Newman.

“If you like Rocamadour, you must see Najac. It’s a mini Rocamadour,” Andy wrote.

With GPS onboard, I found that Najac was an easy stopover.

Narjac: A Mini Rocamadour

As it was definitely a last-minute decision, I was lucky to find an Airbnb room for the night near Najac. Even luckier that it was a seventeenth-century mas with the most delightful hosts.

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Property deed

Arriving just before dinner, I was greeted with open arms and a most unexpected and delicious meal. French hospitality at its best.

The following day, I was off to explore Najac.

Najac: A Mini Rocamadour

Following the Aveyron River as it wove around narrow country roads, through lush green hills and valleys, I was forced to stop at Najac to take photos and enjoy the views.

Najac: A Mini Rocamadour

When I arrived in Najac, it was all hushed. The village center, a small square area with timber-framed shops, cafes, and other commercial establishments, looked like everyone’s day off. In fact, the only store open was a pottery shop.

Yes, I did buy the little red pitcher on the shelf.

Since I had no idea where I was going, I strolled down what appeared to be the only road in town. Before long, I saw a castle (château) in the distance.

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The Château de Najac

The farther I roamed, the more interesting the vistas became.

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The town beyond the square was spread along the long road perched above the river. A splendid example of a 13th-century bastide.

Château de Najac

Known for its medieval buildings and château, Najac was a player in the Albegensian Crusade  (Cathars), the Hundred Years’ War, the imprisonment of the Knights Templar, the peasants’ revolts, and the French Revolution. The château was built in 1253 at the hill’s summit overlooking the Aveyron at the bidding of Alphonse de Poitiers, the Count of Toulouse. Its location and design were essential to controlling the region.

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Najac

Today, it remains a prime example of the type of military defense used in the 13th century to fight against the Cathars and during the Hundred Years War. The castle’s dungeon was a prison for the last Knights of the Rouergue.

Mini Rocamadour
Towers at each corner and a square tower, once part of the castle, helped guards coordinate the defense of the château and the town.
Mini Rocamadour
The castle is known for its high, thin apertures — the tallest in France. The openings were used by archers, three at a time, who defended the castle and its inhabitants.

Najac: Mini Rocamadour

Najac is one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France — the most beautiful villages in France. The castle, owned by the Cibiel family, has been a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1925.

Andy Newman, thanks for the tip. Pass it on! 

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Day trip from Uzes to the Cevennes

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