Notre Dame de Grace
Notre Dame de Grace

Notre Dame de Grace

History and heritage
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Treat yourself with an hour and a half getaway on the right bank of the Dourdou river, opposite the village of Saint-Izaire. This circuit is like going on an original pilgrimage to the 14th century chapel which is perched on top of a hill.

From the village of Saint-Izaire, reach the opposite bank and ascend to Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, a restored medieval shrine that overlooks the Dourdou plain. A carved standing stone and the native home of Canon Hermet who was an expert on the subject, delineate this heritage loop which also follows an old railway.

3 points of interest
History and heritage

Village of Saint-Izaire

The history of this village is intertwined with that of the old Episcopalian castle, which was formerly the Bishop of Vabres summer palace. The name of the village was first made mention of in an official document dating back to 862 AD.

During the 12th century, continual invasions, acts of banditry and battles between feudal lords created a tremendous insecurity. This led to the building of battlements to improve the defensive system and providea safe haven to the neighbouring people during periods of turmoil. The castle and the fortified village date back to the time of the Vabres bishops who made the village their summer residence and a safe refuge.

When the religious wars were over and peace restored, the protective wall lost its primary function and so today the façade of the castle has windows inserted along its length. The fortified gates were also demolished to allow the passage of carts or to expand the neighbouring houses. The villagestreet, footpath and house pattern has remained unchanged since the Middle Ages, and the beautiful 15th century facades and windowscan still be seen in some streets today. The old church part of the battlements had its vault lowered in 1635 to provide housing to the schoolmaster and guards. In 1650 repair works were started by the Consuls.

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History and heritage

Notre Dame de Grâce chapel

This sanctuary which was founded by Alix de Castelnau has existed since at least the 15th century, when it was called Ouradou (oratory). This chapel was refurbished in 1730 and during the 19th century, the stairway door of the castle was then brought back into use.

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Carved standing stone of the Mas Capelier (B) This statue displays all of the feminine feature

This statue displays all of the feminine features: breasts are depicted either side of the Y shaped pendant,legs are set apart and the hair is tied back and depicted by a stripe down the back from the top of the head to the belt. The eyes are wide open set either side of the nose above tattooed   cheeks represented by four lines.


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  1. The starting point is the Place de la Bascule (carpark under the bridge), cross the bridge.
  2. At the roundabout take to the left towards Broquiès. After approximately 50 m, head directly to the almost only tricky part of this walking route: a 100 m long steep path that leads to the foot of ND de Grâces Chapel. At the rear of the chapel, you will find a small enclosed area to relax and enjoy a scenic view over the village and the plain. A pilgrimage, well known in the region, takes place every year (nowadays, on August 15th) with an open air mass which is celebrated in the enclosed area.
  3. Carry on to the left towards the former hôtel Bellevue, leave the tarred road to ascend straight on the path called « chemin du château d’eau ».
  4. Keep walking until you reach a carved standing stone to the right, a notice board displays the history of the statue. Then, carefully follow the marking signs, for here several tracks head in all directions. The one which is to be followed is the most to the right, it is narrow, uneven, runs downhill and goes back to the Dourdou plain.
  5. Next, follow to the right the ancient railway until you reach a junction again on the right that rises to the chapel. Enjoy once more the view over the plain.
  6. Then retrace your way back to the starting point.
Departure : Place de la Bascule, Saint-Izaire (carpark under the bridge)
Arrival : Place de la Bascule, Saint-Izaire (carpark under the bridge)
Towns crossed : Saint-Izaire, Calmels-et-le-Viala

Altimetric profile


Box tree months are active from May to October. During the caterpillar phase, they feed on the leaves of box trees. They crawl down trees and move on long silken threads, although these threads are annoying when hiking they do not pose any health risk

Information desks

Avenue de Lauras, 12250 Roquefort/Soulzon


Situated in the Grands Causses Regional Natural Park, the cheese village of Roquefort stretches on the hillside over the famous scree of the Combalou Rock, in southern Larzac. The village is at an elevation of 630 m and has 700 inhabitants.


The Tourist Office is open all year round:

  • In July and August, Monday to Saturday: 9.30 to 18.30, Sunday: 10.00 to 17.00.
  • April, May, June, September, October; Monday to Saturday: 9.30 to 12.15 & 13.00 to 17.30, closed on Sunday.
  • January, February, November, December; Monday to Friday: 9.30 to 12.15 & 13.00 to 17.00, closed on Saturday and Sunday.
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Access and parking

From Millau, follow the D992, then the D999 up to Vabres l’Abbaye, from Albi, follow the D999 up to Vabres l’Abbaye. Once in the village, proceed to the West via the D25. Saint-Izaire is located 16 km from Vabres l’Abbaye.

Parking :

Place de la Bascule (carpark under the bridge)

More information

Report a problem or an error

If you have found an error on this page or if you have noticed any problems during your hike, please report them to us here:

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Where to sleep ?

Where to sleep ?

HEALTH INSTRUCTIONS (dated June 06 2020)

Dear visitors

The Saint Izaire municipality is pleased to welcome you to this natural campsite. All measures have been taken to guarantee that you have a safe and enjoyable stay. We simply require   that everyone conforms to the following health and safety instructions.

•    You are free to choose the location of your pitch, provided that you respect the clearly marked spaces and adequate distancing between the pitches that are already occupied; if any problem arises or in case of overcrowding, the municipality reserves the right to change the pitch location of newcomers to ensure a homogeneous distribution within the campsite.

•    As a basic principle, you are required to comply with safety distancing measures within the reception area at all times. Groups of more than ten people or of several campervans or caravans will be split to ensure health and safety conditions.

•    If safety distancing cannot be respected (e.g: using the toilets), we highly recommend that you wear a fitted mask (covering your nose and mouth).

•    Door handles and sanitary facilities will be cleaned on a regular basis. However, we request that you follow the current precautions by using a hydro alcoholic solution if necessary. Outdoor games areas will also be cleaned regularly; However, in line with the precautionary principle, the set of outdoor games (children's slide - climbing frame) will not be open.

•    Upon leaving the campsite, you will be asked to leave your name and telephone number to comply with our adequate health monitoring obligations, in case of any future alert. These contact details will only be kept for two months.

We hope you will enjoy your stay in this natural site that is made available for you while complying with our safety instructions. Shops are at your disposal in the immediate vicinity (service station – inn). In case of any difficulties, please call

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What to see

What to see

Saint-Izaire castle and archery museum

Formerly a bishop's summer palace, this building is a listed Historic Monument that has kept some of its original features when the bishops had a way of life similar to the great feudal lords.

20 rooms to discover during the visit: Museum of rural art and traditional archery. Reconstruction of a classroom, an ancient kitchen and the bishop's chamber dating from the 17th century. Free visits with guide book/information sheet. Discovery game for accompanied children from 6 to 12 years old. Duration: 1 hour


•   During peak periods, entries to the castle will be regulated to allow a smooth flow of visitors. Groups of more than ten people will be split up to ensure sanitary health conditions within indoor spaces.


•   We highly recommend you to wear a fitted mask (covering nose and mouth) throughout the visit to avoid any risk of spreading the virus from one person to another if safe distancing cannot be implemented.


•   A one-way system has been specified to guarantee a smooth flow of people, to avoid them from passing each other. It is incumbent upon each person to regulate his or her speed of progression. During the visit, despite the layout of the circuit, three points where people pass each other remain (landing – staircase – corridor) but which are wide enough to ensure physical distancing. In the staircase, priority is given to people going downstairs.


•   The handing of collector's items is forbidden! Even though all contact areas (door handles – ropes – guidebooks – handrails and others are disinfected on a regular basis, the collector's items are not. A hydro alcoholic solution set up in several points throughout the visit is at your disposal.

•   Upon leaving the castle, you will be asked to leave your name and telephone number to comply with our adequate health monitoring obligations, in case of any future alert. These contact details will only be kept for two months.

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Where to sleep ?
Wath to do