Welcome to Lombez! Lombez is in the department of the Gers which is part of the Toulouse area of Gascony. This small town, with just over 2000 inhabitants, is proud to have such a prestigious past: 500 years with a Benedictine faith abbey, 500 years of being a bishopric which means the area a bishop is in charge of and over a 100 years with the title of sub-prefecture.
Lombez has always drawn its wealth from grain farming thanks to the river Save’s alluvium.
Treat yourself to a 10 step journey taking you from the cathedral’s forecourt to discover the village huddled around it, so we can enlighten you and answer all your questions about this area.
max. 172 m
min. 163 m
Styles : BaladeIn townUnusualTerroir
Public : FamilyBackpackerOccasional hikersAdolescentsAccessible with prams/stroller
Themes : CouplesCulturalPatrimony
Behind you is the Tourist Office, in front of you, 42 metres above ground, is the imposing facade of the Cathedral Sainte Marie built between the XIV and XV centuries, crowned with an octagonal tower with 5 indented floors, with twin bays with arch miter. Inspired by the Jacobins Church in Toulouse, this cathedral is an example of the meridional gothic architecture of Toulouse, built with pink bricks, and with a fortress appearance because of its imposing buttresses and its walkway reminding us the dangers of the 100 year war.
Now, head right towards the large building adjoining the south end of the cathedral.
Go towards the imposing building on the right which is joined at the south of the cathedral, this was the sub-prefecture built in 1820 in the place of the old bishopric which was destroyed in the XVIII century.
Today this building houses on the ground floor the music school and the cultural associations, which is still pending total restoration.
Walk a little further on the right, at number 26 place de la cathedrale, this beautiful two-story house is the only relic of the old bishopric, look closely at the ironwork on the balcony which has the initials AC. These are the initials of the deputy-prefect of Lombez, Ambroise Cassasoles.
At the number 24, a restored house from the beginning of the XIX century known as the “restauration period”, allows us to have access to a car park but also a small wash house.
This small wash house was also built around the 1840’s in the place of a bishop's court. This was part of the modernization and revitalization of the village business at the time of the sub-prefecture.
When leaving the Cathedral Square, look to your right, this timbered house probably dates from the sixteenth century.
Now to entrer Barry Neuf Street go back on the left.
You have just left the territory of the former bishopric to get to Barry Neuf street, that led from the entrance of the bishopric to the southern gate of the ramparts (which in french were called d'Espagne meaning from Spain) which were destroyed in 1850 are materialized today at the end of the street by two pilasters in pink brick.
Let's walk down this street which is bordered on the south by a series of houses of the eighteenth century notable for their studded oak doors, framed with pilasters and lintels moulded in pink bricks :
Let’s stop in front of number 12 in front of the old canon’s picturesque house. A canon was a cleric living his life according to the rules of the church whilst living in a clergy house close to a cathedral.
Let’s take a moment to admire the huge façade of number 8. This hotel was built in 1771 and is distinguished by the outstanding frame of the door made of two pilasters with composite capitals and a baroque style lintel in brick.
Lets carry on walking towards the end of the Street to see Number 4 of Barry Neuf Street is a house that dates back to 1631. It probably belonged to religious people, because of the monogram of Christ and the Virgin Mary. We can see the initials JHS and MA embedded in a stone on the facade.
Facing these houses we can see some timbered brick-lined outhouses which once served as stables, today they are used as garages.
Turn on to Jean Moulin street.
You are now in Jean Moulin Street, this is no other than the end of Long Street which as its name suggests was the longest in the village, leading from one gate to another in the Middle Ages.
On the corner where the two streets meet, at number 32, the decoration a wrought iron door knocker of this building from the XVIII century draws your attention.
Walk to the middle of this street.
Further on, in the middle of the road, on the right, is “Rue des boulangers” which means bakers' street that offers an unexpected perspective of the cathedral’s porch and reminds us of the occupations of the traders and craftsmen, employed by the bishopric and the canons.
Let’s carry on walking down Long Street, until we reach numbers 14 and 12. These timbered brick-lined houses date from the XV century with a one story corbel, which evokes a medieval town.
The end of Jean Moulin Street is cut by Pénitents street which corresponds to modern accommodations made by the sub-prefecture in order to aerate the medieval city centre and to give direct access to the new Boulevard des Pyrénées. Why this current name? To remember the Brotherhood of Penitents whose premises occupied that location. This street was also called “Desired Street” because the inhabitants had been waiting for it for centuries.
Walk across the road into Republic Street which is the new name of this part of the old “Longue Street”.
Stop at Republic Square recently created by the demolition of the Granaries Street, sit down and look up at the “mirande” which is an open gallery under the roof to be able to see the surroundings and get fresh air while serving as a shelter. Like a covered balcony.
Let's go see number 14 and number 16, we can see beautiful houses with an opulent masonry brick façade from the XVIII century.
In the middle of Republic street, at number 12, the door has the same fretted décor as the door frame at number 8 Barry Neuf street.
At numbers 8 and 6, notice that the doors and windows are on the ground floor, this is a reminder that the ground in Lombez has raised 1.50m since XVII century.
At the end of Republic Street, walk to Notre Dame street.
On your left, two pink brick pilasters materialize the old north gate of the ramparts.
A statue of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus in cast iron that dates from the XIX century protected the largest and most important entrance of the city until the nineteenth century.
At number 4, a modern building which houses since 2007 the Library and the House of Scripture, writers residency of the Midi-Pyrénées.
On the right and left of this street are beautiful buildings of the eighteenth century for the most part : at number 7, stands a beautiful carriage porch topped by a round arch, somewhat mistreated in the wentieth century to house a shop.
At number 9,
At number 11, house dating from 1801, decorated on the top with with palm leaves molded in the brick probably from the Virbent in Launaguet Company.
At number 14, a bourgeois house with eaves underlined by a frieze of triglyphs, metopes and a remarkable wooden door entrance topped with a wrought iron fanlight which belonged to a miller and ecclesiastical family.
Leave the Notre Dame Street and turn left into the Moulin street.
Moulin Street led the inhabitants to the mill of the canons and into the cathedral which until 1793 was in the corner of the Déversoir street.
In the middle of the street, we can see on the left a “gourgue” a Gascon word for a spillway of the watermill and on the right timbered brick-lined outhouses that served as granaries.
This old medieval village centre is the oldest part of the village and is currently being renovated.
Let's walk on.
At the end of the street, we can see the mill that was built on the canal with its mullion windows on the first floor.
On the square, we have a nice view of the apse of the cathedral which is often compared with the Jacobins church in Toulouse and also the large washhouse built at the time of the sub-prefecture to improve the lives of lombéziennes, the inhabitants of Lombez.
Taking Déversoir Street we find ourselves back in front of the cathedral.
Now two different paths are available
For the visit of the cathedral you will find the qr code beside the historical monument logo.
For the path outside the village walls go to Pyrenees boulevard. The Qrcode 8 with be next to the post box where Pyrenees Boulevard and St. Adoure road meet.
n the XVII century where you are standing now, you would be outside the town walls, thats why in 1663, Jean-Jacques Séguier de la Verrerie, building Historical Monument which is in front of the Memorial.
Imagine that between the seventeenth and the XIX century the ramparts, the ditches and the canals, that protected the city, disappear successively to give place to the Pyrenees Boulevard called for a while “Boulevard des fossés” which means Ditches boulevard which is now the village centre.
In the nineteenth century, on the site of the ramparts, large town houses are built, with gardens and pavillons. The whole of the Pyrenees boulevard with its houses with its gardens becomes one of the attractions of the urban landscape of Lombez at the time of the sub-prefecture.
Take a 5 minutes walk down Pyrenees boulevard to the Save bridge.
On the Toulouse road, at the entrance of the village near the bridge on the Save is the former court house that became the town hall of Lombez in 1951.
In 1820, was built a court house near the Save Bridge. It is this beautiful building in pink brick that you see, built in neoclassical style very much in fashion at the time with a portico entrance preceded by a flight of six steps, supporting Doric columns surmounted by a frieze of triglyphs and metope, crowned by a triangular pediment.
Along the river you will a tree-lined promenade.
The bridge built in 1764 by Monsignor Jacques Richier Cérisy,is on the site of a ford and the bridge was doubled in 1870 and recently restored. It leads to the first suburb of the village : Prat Béziau where were held the cattle markets.
A white marble slab recalling the bridge construction is visible under the deck in the axis of the central arch, upriver. You can see it by looking behind the small house to the right of the bridge.
Before visiting make sure that no religious services are taking place.
Before entering, stop in front of the cathedral to look at the doorway.
Unlike the facade, it is built in stone and marble.
This doorway has two doors separated by a marble pier and framed by two columns supporting two basket arches.
Above the door, a blind tympanum is surrounded by five stone arches resting on slender columns whose capitals are decorated with plant motifs. Everything is crowned by a triangular gable decorated with choux frisés and finished with a fleuron (in a flower shape).
Now go down the three porch steps and enter the cathedral through the small door on the right.
Before going any further turn immediately left to look at the two capitals transformed in the eighteenth century into fonts, each side of the door.
Dated to the pre-Roman era, they could be from the early church of the Benedictine Abbey founded in 810 that preceded the Bishopric created in 1317.
Keep left to enter the baptistery
Going down the stairs, the light will turn on "miraculously".
This Romanesque Baptistery of pink brick is octagonal whose sections are separated by columns.
Whilst they were building the cathedral, the baptistery was used as the base for the bell tower in 1346.
Since the 1969 restorations, the baptistery has regained its original function with the installation of the baptismal lead font dating from the middle of the XIII century, decorated with two superposed friezes, one representing a procession of monks in quatrefoil, the other, rarer, exotic hunting with wild animals and imaginary animals from an oriental influence.
Since 1969 the baptistery welcomes five display windows precious church silver from the XIX century from Lombez Cathedral and other churches of the parish. In one of those display windows was a reliquary of Saint Majan's arm, patron saint of the village and the Saves, which was stolen in 2002.
Romanesque windows have been fitted with contemporary stained glass windows from a student of the famous glass artist Henri Guerin, native of Plaisance du Touch.
The door, which is lower, gives access to the organs and the bells during guided tours.
The floor of the baptistery is the original ground of the entire cathedral, that is to say 1.5 m lower than today. A look at the base of the first pillar in the nave makes it possible to see the base on the old floor.
Come out of the baptistery, make a few steps into the nave to have an overview and make the most of a chronological discovery of the riches of this cathedral.
Saint Mary's Cathedral or la cathédrale Sainte-Marie in French, facing east, consists of two aisles equal in height but unequal width, both lined with side chapels.
The main nave, built first in the second half of the XIV century, is formed by five bays and a pentagonal apse.
The north nave is shorter, due to the encroachment of the tower. It only has four bays and was completed in the fifteenth century by an apse.
The two aisles are covered with ribbed vaults finishing with penetrating vaults on powerful cylindrical stone pillars, whereas all the walls is built of brick. Length of the main nave 23m, vault height 18m originally 16m today.
Walk towards the choir and sit on a bench to the left of the aisle in order to observe the stained glass windows dating from the Renaissance.
From there you can see the windows of the three bays of the apse and those who are above the arches of the south side chapels.
These windows were commissioned under the episcopate of two members of the Gascon family Bilhères who were bishops of Lombez from the late fifteenth to early sixteenth century. Their coats of arms are visible at the bottom of the central window of the apse.
In the three large windows of the apse is illustrate the life of Mary and her son Jesus; in the window above the Episcopal throne, Pentecost, and in the four other southern wall windows, the evangelists.
For a long time, this set of windows was awarded to Arnaud de Moles, the master glassmaker of Auch Cathedral, research is underway to find the author of stained glass windows of Lombez.
The works of embellishment of the cathedral were usually financed on personally by the bishops, which explains why some of the artists recruited came from regions outside Gascony.
After a period of significant unrest in the XVI century, a lull is required at the time of the accession of Henry IV to the throne of France.
At Lombez, this corresponds to the arrival on the episcopal see of three bishops of the Daffis family from 1597-1657 the last of which commanded thirty high stalls and twenty low stalls for the canons, and a bishop's throne, with seats each sides for two vicars. Each armrest is carved with different humorous heads. The bishop's throne is no less spectacular with two Atlanteans, each are antique-inspired.
Seven sculptors worked there during 1651-1655 under the direction of William Fontan of Toulouse and Jean Loze of Saint Elix.
Above the main altar in a wooden niche you can see a statue of the Virgin and Child carved in linden wood painted in white and gold dating from the same era as the stalls.
The wrought iron gates
Look at the entrance to the nave with the wrought iron gates separating the choir from the main nave and the small nave.
All styles of the XVIII century in the reign of Louis XIV to that of Louis XVI are represented.
These grids were formed by Pierre Bertin, from Samatan, under the episcopate of William Maupéou, Bishop 1720-1751.
It is said that the bishop's brother that was at Versailles as Chancellor of King Louis XV would have sent the young Bertin to train in the royal workshop.
Interesting fact : the gates of the nave, kept their fleurs de lis despite the revolution.
The 31st Bishop of Lombez, Leon Francis Ferdinand de Salignac de la Motte Fénélon (1771-1787), grandnephew of the famous Bishop of Cambrai, transformed entirely the inside of the cathedral.
The stalls which were previously the centre of the nave were moved to the choir which he designed in solemn manner with the imposing altar on four large multicoloured stairs in Carrara marble.
It was François Lucas, the famous sculptor from Toulouse was entrusted the overall décor, especially the medallion with the profile of the Virgin Mary and the tabernacle.
From the choir it is possible to see the grandstand organ case above the entrance porch.
In 1780-82, William Monturus built this instrument which is a beautiful piece of furniture with double body, placed on an elegant stand with a wrought iron railing.
The coat of arms you can see on the stone pedestal sculptured on the corbel belongs to Henry de Chauvigny de Blot, the last bishop of Lombez.
From May to September, many Baroque music concerts take place using this beautiful instrument.
Enter the small nave on the right, walk straight on and stop in front of the third chapel on your right, created in 1838 in the Cathedral, to honor Majan, the evangelizer of the Savès and the patron saint of Lombez. The entire carved decoration in brick comes from the Virebent Launaguet Company.
Above the altar, a painting from the nineteenth century shows the golden legend of Saint Majan would have felled a dragon that was terrorizing the land, throwing in his mouth his pastoral ring. This miracle would have happened on a hillside path overlooking Lombez where you can now see a chapel built in 1872 on the site of the tomb of Majan, who died in 610.
Continue to the next chapel dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi which we can see the statue in a niche above the altar. The white and gold paneling of the chapel comes from the former Capuchin monastery located outside the walls where you saw the building on the village tour.
They were put in the Cathedral after the destruction of the convent church. An inscription on the altar tells us that they were made by Henri Bertin, a sculptor in Samatan.
Head to the exit, go right past a statue of a reclining Christ in stone dated fifteenth century, which was part of a burial of seven people, destroyed in the eighteenth century.
In front of you in the main nave is the Chapel of St. John the Baptist.
Come near and turn on the light on the wall to your right.
The ground on both sides of the altar:
On the right, you can see the tombstone, the oldest preserved in the cathedral, Guillaume de Durfort de Duras, a bishop who died in 1378, represented lying with his head on a pillow, hands folded on the chest, miter on his head and the crosier resting on the left side.
We can read an inscription that runs all around the slab:
"Obiit GUILL de DUFORTIS EPIS.LUBAR. Requiescat in pace. "
On the left, you can see William of Maupéou’s tombstone, who died in 1751 and who for thirty years was one of the best administrators of city and diocese of Lombez.
The slab is black marble with his arms above a long epitaph.
You have just completed the tour of St. Mary's Cathedral, if you want; you can go to the tourist office for refreshments, right in front of you when you come out of the cathedral.
Thank you for your visit and we hope to see you soon!