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Some Romanesque churches in the valley


Vallée du Louron is full of Romanesque churches that have miraculously preserved its monumental fresco paintings dating from the 16th century. The isolation of the region has protected the valley from the consequences of religious wars and the French Revolution.

Église Saint Calixte (Church of Saint Callixtus) in Cazaux Frechet

The legend: the Aragonese knight Calixto and his cousin Mercurio came to Louron in the 10th century in order to fight the Moors. They came through the Col d’Azet, located opposite to the village of Cazaux-Frechet, and crossed the whole valley to support the inhabitants in the battles. After a dreadful battle, Calixto was killed by an enemy spear and his body fell onto a flat stone, known as the grave of Saint Calixte. Despite his death, the inhabitants of the village won the battle and raised a church with his name in recognition of his courage.

Description: Église de Saint-Calixte is a nave-shaped construction that ends in a semicircular apse. There is a chapel on the north side and a bell tower wall, whose bell dates from 1577. 
Declared to be a Historical Monument.

Remarkable elements: monumental paintings (from the 12th and 16th centuries), sculptures, painted ceilings (in 1720), altarpiece (18th century).

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Église Saint-Barthélémy (Church of Saint Bartolomew) in Mont

History: it belongs to the church territorial district of Saint Callixtus (CazauxFrechet/ Anéran-Camors). According to the style of the south portico, it seems the church dates back to the 13th century. The construction was modified in the 16th century through the attachment of the north chapel, turning the old wall into a huge bell tower and remarkable decoration works in and outside (mural paintings).
Remarkable elements: portico, declared to be a Historical Monument in 1910.
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Église Saint-Mercurial (Church of Saint Mercury) in Vielle-Louron

History: belonging to the church territorial district of Adervielle. The church preserves the relics of Saint Mercury, Aragonese knight dead in the battle against the Saracen. According to tradition, Mercurio was the cousin of Calixto, another local saint whose name was used to name a church in CazauxFrechet/ Anéran-Camors. The church belongs, for the most part, to the Romanesque period, specially the western wall, the nave and the north apsidiole. The apsidiole was separated from the north aisle and turned into a sacristy in 1953 (date written on the lintel). The south windows were opened in 1749. Declared to be a Historical Monument.
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Église Saint-Félix (Church of Saint Felix) in Armenteule

History: south-facing church that boasts a semicircular apse from Romanesque times decorated with Lombard arcades. The former construction was a simple nave open on the south side. In the 16th century it was consolidated with great buttresses and decorated with monumental paintings.
Description: hipped roof over the bell tower. Fake ogival vault over the south chapel .


Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption (Church of Our Lady of the Assumption) in Bareilles

History: church mentioned in the church property register in 1387. Its reconstruction is considered to date from 1847. In 1848, the adjustments carried out by architect J. J. Latour were modified and, currently, the aim is to remove a semicircular chevet.

The building work, which had been interrupted, was resumed in 1852. However, given the instability of the new bell tower, the entrepreneur, Jumére, had to reconstruct it in 1854. The sculptor, Joseph Nelly, ended his decoration and reconstruction work by 1857 (date written on the tympanum of the porch of the entrance).

Description: rectangular-plan construction made of granite rubblework and plaster schists, slate-covered, with a hip end on the flat chevet side and bell tower covered with a polygonal arrow over the entrance. Three naves divided into three bays and separated by semicircular arcades with sculpted capitals. Semicircular apse covered with a semidome; nave and aisle are covered with a coffering.
Decoration: sculptures and paintings.


Église de l’Invention-de-Saint-Etienne (Church of the Invention of Saint Stephen) in Germ-Louron

History: parish until the Concordat (agreement between the Catholic Church and the sovereign state), then attached to Loudenvielle, and right afterwards, attached to Loudervielle.
The greatest part of the construction dates from the 16th century. The north chapel, dedicated to Notre Dame du Rosaire (Our Lady of the Rosary), was built in 1597 by Juan Forga, native of Monzon, Aragon.
Remarkable element: portico.

Description: lean-to over the porch – Altarpiece of Our Lady of the Rosary, between the 16th and the 17th centuries.


Église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine (Church of Saint Mary Magdalene) in Loudervielle

History: attached to Armenteule before de Revolution. Later, it belonged to Loudenvielle and, lastly, became the main presbytery towards 1870. From what is left out of the Romanesque church, the west side is crossed by a narrow arched bay window and a part of the south wall is ornamented with with Lombard arcades. It is the base of a brotherhood raised by the Jesuit missionary Jean Fourcard in October, 1637. The aisle and the sacristy were built in the 17th century. The inside was repainted between 1934-35. 
Description: flat chevet. Stones of calcareous sizes over the west elevation and over the Lombard arcades.
Decoration : sculptures


Sources :

Patrimony guidebook, Vallée du Louron, Canton of Bordères-Louron by Pierre-Yves Corbeel, Aurel Bongiu, Sykvie Decottignies and Oliver Renaudeau.


Useful information :  

The churches of Vallée du Louron are closed for security reasons. In the activities schedule of the valley you will find guided tours to the churches. For group visits, contact the Tourist Office or the Association Mémoire des Vallées (Valleys’ memory association). Lastly,  l'Arixothe museographic space in Loudenvielle, presents the churches, the history and its fresco paintings in an interactive way.