Along the 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.
Arriving just before dinner, I was greeted with open arms and a most unexpected and delicious meal. French hospitality at its best.
The next morning 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 along the way to Najac to take photos and enjoy the views.
Najac: A Mini Rocamadour
When I arrived in Najac it was all very quiet. The village center, literally a small square area with timber-framed shops, cafes, and other commercial establishments, looked like it was 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.
The Château de Najac
The farther I roamed the more interesting the vistas became.
The town beyond the square was spread out 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 its château, Najac has been near major events of history since its beginning, including the first English occupation, the Albigensian Crusade, 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 summit of the hill overlooking the Aveyron at the bidding of Alphonse de Poitiers, the Count of Toulouse. Its location and design were key to controlling the region.
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 dungeon of the castle was used as a prison for the last Knights of the Rouergue.
Towers at each corner and a square tower, once part of the castle, helped guards coordinate defense of the château and the town.
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 of France. The castle, owned by the Cibiel family, has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1925.
Andy Newman, thanks for the tip. Pass it on!