Situated in the middle of forests and deep gorges, built on a 40m high and 200m long rocky spur, overlooking the Maronne river, the city of Merle is a spectacular feudal complex of seven towers erected between the 11th and 15th centuries, each of which belonged to a different lord, the lords of Merle, Veyrac, Pesteils, Carbonnières, Noailles, Saint Bauzile, d'Alboy?
The perched and naturally defensible character of the rocky site contributed to the development of a "castrum" which lasted until the 15th century and which was situated on the border between the Duchy of Aquitaine, the County of Auvergne, the County of Toulouse and two dioceses.
In 1475, when the Hundred Years' War was over, a long period of peace allowed the blossoming of an era of prosperity for this small city. Alas, the religious wars were going to cause deadly devastation.
Today, one can discover in a park of 10 ha the castrum and its viewpoints, a reconstructed peasant farm, the ruins of a medieval village, the Maison Madège with a model representing the site, the Maison Esturgie, the last inhabited house, archaeological objects, medieval gardens, the souvenir shop...
The farm and garden...
The farmhouse, built at the foot of the Merle rock, introduces you to the world of 14th-century peasants and a typical medieval village dwelling.
The farm had two levels, reserved for humans and animals:
- the "haut-bout" served as living quarters and granary;
- the lower level was reserved for animals and tools.
The farmhouse was thatched, while the cowshed was covered with chestnut shingles fastened with hemp twine.
All domestic animals were bred and their reproduction monitored.
At the end of the visit, the Jardin de Merle offers you its scents and highlights culinary, medicinal, textile and dyeing flora from the High Middle Ages to the present day. In addition to fruit, vegetables and other herbs and condiments, medieval gardens were home to ancestral flora that led to the development of today's varieties. In those days, all plants had a purpose.
The Parc de Merle is dotted with fruit trees, hazelnuts, walnuts, apples and vines...
During your visit to the site, don't miss a visit to the Maison Nadège, which houses the model of the Tours de Merle, the Maison Esturgie, a typical Xaintrie house, the last inhabited house in Merle, now a place of entertainment, as well as the old bridge, currently being restored, and the riunes of the water mill used in the 14th century to grind rye and walnuts and extract oil.
The site has been classified as a Historic Monument since 1927, and is part of its landscape, located in a Natura 2000 zone and an area of ecological interest for flora and fauna.
Finally, there is a rumour that a treasure has been amassed in a cave of which we have lost track.
During the holidays, many "Naturally Medieval" activities are offered and included in the entrance fee.
The Merle Towers
19220 Saint-Geniez O Merle
Tel: 05 55 28 22 31 and 05 55 28 27 67
Click on the image