Chäteau de Montjézieu in the Lot ValleyChâteau de Montjézieu - Lot Valley
©Château de Montjézieu - Lot Valley


Montjézieu is an unusual village. Its houses are perched, sometimes just a few meters above sea level, and enjoy exceptional views over the Lot Valley. Some are built right into the rock, revealing the rock on which their foundations rest. The place is full of legends from the depths of time, and its charm continues to shine through its narrow streets in the shadow of the château.

A village

overlooking the Lot Valley

Along with Auxillac, Montjézieu was part of the former parish of Salmon. It is now a commune associated with La Canourgue. From its promontory, it dominates the right bank of the River Lot. Situated between the Lot valley and the Aubrac plateau, the now listed Château de Montjézieu was the sentinel of a busy crossing point, especially since the Treaty of Brétigny in 1360, which awarded Rouergue to the English, made it a particularly sensitive area, as the Gévaudan became the border between English and French territory.


The “Mount of the Jews

According to tradition, the commune owes its name to a colony of Jews established in ancient times. Their presence on the site has been attested since 1121. We know from a deed of parage between Philippe le Bel and Guillaume Durand, bishop of Gévaudan, that the castle of Montjézieu was referred to as “Castrum de Monte Judeo”, the Mount of the Jews, in 1307. That year, Guillaume V Durand decided to banish them from Gévaudan, following the directives of Philippe le Bel who, a year earlier, had decreed their expulsion from the kingdom of France and the confiscation of all their property. The Jewish community did, however, return to Montjézieu a few years later.

Montjézieu was home to a synagogue, which gave its name to the square. It was described in the 19th century by Canon Bosse. It consisted of a large room measuring 6m by 9m on the first floor of an old building, with a cupboard evoking the Ark of the Covenant under an east-facing archway.

There is evidence that Jewish communities settled in several parts of Gévaudan as early as the 12th century. It is likely, however, that these settlements were established much earlier. During the 13th century, the Pope repeatedly forbade “vexing” them. However, as early as 1290, the bishop of Mende, Guillaume V Durand, defined several prohibitions in his “Instructions”. For example, they were not allowed to employ Christian servants, and were not allowed to go out on the last three days of Holy Week. In public, they must wear a roundel of a color different from that of their clothing, so that it is clearly visible.


Rich in heritage

The village of Montjézieu also boasts a chapel on a promontory outside the village center: the chapel of Saint Jean du Bédel. This building has a distinctive roof shape reminiscent of an upturned ship’s hull, known as the “Philibert roof”, named after King Henry II’s famous architect, Philibert de l’Orme. To reach the chapel: take the road below the village that leads to Imbèque, and a path is signposted on your left, which quickly leads to the chapel. The chapel features murals that were restored in 2018 and decorate the entire choir. A painting depicting the Baptism of Christ hangs in the axis of the nave, surrounded by two niches housing statues of St. John the Baptist and the Virgin. Although mention of a chapel in Montjézieu dates back to the early 14th century, the current building was rebuilt in 1877. The chapel is not open to visitors, except in summer, when tours are organized by the Confrérie de la pouteille et des manouls de la Canourgue (further information on 04 66 32 83 67). The village also boasts the region’s typical heritage: bread oven, ferradou (shoeing machine)…

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