Conques is a wonderfully preserved medieval town — well, it's not much larger than a village really. It's a kind of architectural fly in amber, and the whole place is classified as an historic monument. There are crowds of visitors in the summer, who walk in from the car park on the edge of town, as motor vehicles are banned from the streets. Luckily the tourists all seem to disappear by late afternoon.
What's allowed and what's not allowed is strictly controlled in Conques: shops are as rare as gold dust, and street signage is so minimal that I didn't see a single balise. Consequently I nearly got lost when leaving! It's beautiful, and it's perfect — almost too perfect for me, I have to say. At times Conques can resemble a film set, or a mock medieval town without the heart and soul of a real town, without the rough and tumble, the dirt, the dung and the swearing.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed my night here, because I stayed with the monks at the Abbaye Sainte-Foy, and the reception was warm and efficient, and the dormitory comfortable, and all the facilities — showers, wash basins, washing lines — impeccable. (Though, fortunately, I had dinner that night in a restaurant — I heard later that the refectory food was tolerable but unexciting, and small of portion. Certainly the breakfast next morning was disappointing but, hey, who's complaining? The whole experience only cost a few euros, and was remarkable value for money — and I know I'm being mean-spirited, and probably unchristian, so do forgive me.)
|Stone sarcophagi behind the abbey-church of Sainte-Foy.|
|Entrance to the pilgrim accommodation at the Abbaye Sainte-Foy.|
|Abbey on the left, church on the right.|
|Front view of the abbey-church of Sainte-Foy.|
|An extraordinary Romanesque tympanum above the church's west doorway. The scene depicts the Last Judgement.|
|This photo makes the cobbled square in front of the abbey-church seem a little creepy. No people? Not even any pilgrims! Well, it was very early in the morning.|