Three previous stages

Sub-prefecture of Cantal (15)

Population: 7,130. 24,820 for the municipalities of Saint-Flour Community.

Personalities: Georges Pompidou (former representative of the constituency), Cardinal Marty (bishop for about 20 years in St Flour), Melanie Chabrier (football, France U16 team), Lucie Modenel (handball, France U18 team).

Specialties: cheese (Fourme d'Ambert, Cantal, Bleu d'Auvergne), truffles, aligot, Salers and Aubrac meats, Pounti (meat stuffing with herbs and prunes), Tripoux, blond lentils.

Sport: 4,000 licensees, 30 clubs including Vélo Club du Pays de Saint-Flour. Events: Grand Parcours, Traversée Blanche, Etape Sanfloraine, La Méridienne, Trial of the Cité des Vents.

On the bike: Grand Tour MTB Saint-Flour Volcanic Horizons (180 km), Grande Traversée du Massif Central, 3 MTB labeled areas (650 km, Saint-Flour, Pierrefort and Planèze), Romain Bardet Experience.

Economy: food industry, luxury industry (leather goods Fleurus, Vulcacuir)

Festivals: Annual Fair (June), Festival of High Lands (June), Feast of St. Christine (July), Festa del Païs (August), Biennale of Contemporary Art, Art Trail (July-August).

Labels: City and Country of art and history / Most Beautiful Detours of France / 4 seasons Mountain Territory / Site Clunisien / Green pearls of the A75

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The recluses of Saint-Flour

From the 12th to the 16th century, a particular and cruel tradition was taking place on the Old Bridge: the recluserie or reclusage. In the middle of the bridge was a small cell of a few square metres, in which a young woman or a young man lived or at least survived thanks to the gifts of the population. By her or his prayers, the recluse was meant to protect the city from epidemics or attacks. These young people, most of them women, were locked up voluntarily until their death. The confinement took place after a ceremony involving the whole population: a religious service was held at the cathedral and then the procession took the recluse to the bridge. The families of the recluse were ennobled. For the most part, recluses survived from a few months to a year (five years for the most enduring). They had to face the most extreme conditions: wind and fog in the mid-seasons, freezing cold in winter and the living conditions led to anaemia, fever, rheumatoid arthritis ...

As part of the biennale of contemporary art, Chemin d'Art, artists have been inspired by this tradition of recluses. Isabelle Tournoud, with her sculpture Saint-Lunaire, evoked the dress of the recluses. François Davin paid tribute to these hostages of faith by setting his work, The recumbent recluse, in the bed of the river Ander. Finally, Viviane Riberaigua, with her installation for 150 recluses (it is believed that 150 persons were locked up this way), created 150 wax figurines connected by the same filament, each death calling for the next.

© CC BY-SA 4.0

Of the three stages of the Tour to finish in Saint-Flour, it was undoubtedly the one clinched by Richard Virenque on Bastille Day in 2004 which made a lasting impression. Gone with Axel Merckx, the Frenchman finally went solo to win with a five minutes lead over German Andreas Kloden and seized the polka dot jersey he was to take to Paris for the seventh time. It was his seventh and last stage victory on the Tour. Seven years later, in 2011, Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez took the stage honours ahead of Thomas Voeckler, who took back the yellow jersey he had held for ten days in 2004. The Frenchman that year completed his most successful Tour de France, finishing fourth overall.

© Saint-Flour Communauté
Tour de France 2011 - Etape Issoire/St Flour - Victoire de Luis Leon Sanchez © Presse Sports / Papon

The walls
Camped on its basaltic rock, Saint-Flour was in the 14th century a fortress of strategic importance, protected by an enclosure of crenelated ramparts, lined inside a walkway. In Saint-Flour, the men of the Middle Ages made the city a formidable bastion, often besieged but never conquered. The circuit of the ramparts is a great introduction to the art of medieval defence. Today, the base of the ramparts remains and run along the ridge of the rock.

St. Pierre Cathedral
At first glance, St. Pierre Cathedral may seem austere. But the study of its history and its architecture makes it possible to see the building in another light. The cathedral was first completed in the 15th century. Four centuries later, major modifications gave its current Gothic appearance. Among the masterpieces: the Beau Dieu Noir, murals, stained glass windows, contemporary liturgical furniture and the work of goldsmith Goudji ...

Museum of Haute-Auvergne
The Museum of Haute-Auvergne, located in the former episcopal palace and built in the 17th century at the foot of the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre, displays amazing folkloric collections, testimonies of the history of this country of highlands. Several thematic rooms are open to visit. The primitive vaulted halls of the palace serve as a setting for archaeological collections and the organisation of temporary exhibitions.
The bishop's private highlights the religious statuary of the 12th and 19th centuries. The chapter house holds the treasure of the cathedral.
The old apartments are dedicated to Haute-Auvergne folk art and house one of the most beautiful collections of domestic furniture in France.

Alfred Douët Museum of Art and History
Behind its Renaissance facade, the consular house conceals a cabinet of curiosities with intimate and authentic charm. Inside, the inner courtyard is particularly remarkable, as well as the panoramic view of the dining room, the arms room and its majestic stone staircase, the finesse of the exhibits.
The works of fine arts and decorative arts brought together by Alfred Douët (1875-1952) reveal the eclectic tastes of this collector.
Paintings of French, Italian and Flemish schools, sculptures from the 15th to the 19th century: medieval silverware, Renaissance enamels, earthenware (Iznic, Rouen, Moustiers ...), tapestries from Flanders and Aubusson, weapons and precious furniture make up a remarkable ensemble.

Saint-Flour © iStock / Getty Images Premium
© Hervé Vidal
© Wikimédia / Domaine publique
© Ville de Saint-Flour
© CC BY-SA 4.0 / International

Blond lentil from Saint-Flour

Cultivated by thirty farmers in Cantal, the blond lentil of Saint-Flour has found a new momentum. Praised by the best chefs in the world, it now goes in the composition of confit, pasta, flour and even beer. Virtually extinct in the late 1960s, it was recreated by the National Institute for Agricultural Research from its collections. Digestible, sweet and light, the lentil has been distinguished as a "Sentinel of taste" by the Slow Food association and is seeking to obtain the Label Rouge and IGP labels.

Champ agricole © iStock / Getty Images Premium
© Pierre Soissons
© Hervé Vidal
© Benoit Parret
© Hervé Vidal
© Hervé Vidal
© Hervé Vidal
© Céline Talon
Vitrail de la halle aux bleds, Saint-Flour © Pierre Chalvon

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