A modest but highly significant heritage ! This modest heritage has all the makings of something truly great. It features small buildings that bear witness to the lives of our ancestors. Mills, crosses, coudercs (communal spaces)... Still in operation or no longer in use, they all bear witness to a bygone era and are treasured for their historical value. Here is our selection of favourites from the Hautes Terres, to explore on your own or with a guide.
The communes of the Cantal Volcano have a number of oratories and chapels along roadsides or winding lanes.
These remarkable treasures include:
Pont des Tuiles
Sainte-Reine, an impressive roadside chapel
At Neussargues-en-Pinatelle, village of Chalinargues
In the centre of the village of Chalinargues, visitors can gaze at the water features that can be seen in the main square. This esplanade is known as the couderc. It is a communal space that combines the facilities necessary for the life of the villagers. There is a livestock crush, drinking troughs for the herds and a large washhouse, etc.
This collective equipment is essential, as the livestock crush must keep the cattle immobilised long enough to change their shoes. This process is carried out “cold”, unlike horse shoeing, which is done in a forge. The cattle crush is often covered, as cattle shoeing is done on days with bad weather when no other agricultural work is possible.
The dimensions of the drinking troughs provide valuable information about the size of the herds living in the village. The larger the troughs, the greater the size of the farming community!
Couderc in Chalinargues
In Bredons, Ségur-les-Villas, Allanche and Laurie
The fountain is a crucial element for the villagers. It is often said that it was the women who met at the fountain, and with good reason! This is the place where you fetch water to fill your "aiguière" (sink) or buckets to do the housework.
Fountain in Bredons
Focus on the Lagarde windmill - Celoux
A windy region, the plateaux in the East of Cantal have witnessed many windmills turning their blades. And today, the only windmill still in operation in Auvergne is located here!
Standing on its esplanade at an altitude of 1,100 m, it is an imposing sight, and with good reason: with its 1-m thick walls, it can withstand the wind. The blades look bare without their planks of pine, and this is what preserves them, preventing the wind from catching them when the mill is not turning. Because you have to watch out for irregular winds that can tear the roof off, despite it weighing 7 tonnes!
The most astonishing feature is the system inside the windmill, which grinds the flour through the action of the blades, connected to the stone millstones. The sounds plunge us into an atmosphere, the wood creaks, the smell of grain and flour... an experience to be savoured.
Windmill of Celoux
Laveissenet, Charmensac, Sainte Anastasie and Lusclade
In the heart of a village, a low, squat building attracts attention. This is the old village oven!
It was a popular gathering place for villagers, and was used once a month to bake their bread. These convivial occasions brought everyone together: the women prepared the dough pieces while the men watched over the baking.
The architecture of village ovens varies very little, with the oven itself (also known as the “cuit-pain” or “bread oven”) and the entrance to the oven where people could take refuge in the rain to preserve the dough or to talk (with stone benches often built into the masonry, etc.).
Often covered in lauzes, the traditional stone-vaulted oven has a beautifully rounded shape reminiscent of church apses.
Some villages still hold their annual oven festival in the summer, a chance to rediscover the taste of bread baked the old-fashioned way.
The communal oven in Virargues