The black wood N°10 VTT
This easy biking tour follows rather playful trails that wind their way through the undergrowth and a few singletrack paths
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.
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.
Abbot Hermet was a renowned archeologist. He was born in Calmels in 1856, and died in Rodez in 1939. He became interested in carved standing stones when he first saw them at the age of ten, and was immediately keen to learn all that he could about them. He published his first book on the subject, covering six discoveries in 1892. This led to his taking up formal training in the scientific method of archeology, and in 1898, he gave these statues their official classification of “carved standing stones”. In 1901 he became the first to undertake a thorough investigation of the Graufesenque Gallo-Roman site in Millau.
Cycle up to the chapel of Notre Dame de Grâce, go round to the left of the chapel and join the former railway line. Carry on along this line which leads towards the hamlet des Roques.
- Follow a red earth trail on the hillside until you reach a carved standing stone. Take the path to your right that leads you to the top of the woodland
- Head East, before cycling down towards the Cambon plain, which is close to the Bousquet farm. Follow the trail to the left which takes you back to the top of the “Bois Noir”.
- A shady path then takes you back towards the Mas de Capelier, which is the house where Abbot Hermet was born. Carry on until you reach a road. Cross that road and cycle through the hamlet of Riol.
- Farther along the road, a path to your left allows you to cycle back to the chapel and to enjoy the view overlooking the village of Saint-Izaire.
Box tree moths 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
Saint-Affrique Tourist Office
Boulevard Aristide Briand, 12400 Saint-Affrique
The Tourism Office is open all year round, the opening hours are:
·July and august:
From Monday to Saturday: 9h – 13h & 15h – 19h
Sunday: 9h – 13h
·From September to June:
From Tuesday to Saturday: 9h – 13h & 14h – 17h
Closed: Sundays, Mondays and bank holidays
From November to April, the office is also closed on Saturday afternoon.
Access and parking
From St-Affrique head towards Albi up to the roundabout before Vabres l’Abbaye where you take a right turn onto the D25 road that leads to St-Izaire.
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:
Where to sleep ?
Where to sleep ?
HEALTH INSTRUCTIONS (dated June 06 2020)
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 06.29.11.62.30
Where to sleep ?
Where to sleep ?
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.