The village of Saint-Martin d'Oydes

st martin d'oydesIf you take the scenic route from Toulouse along the Lèze river valley, you'll see a sign for St-Martin d'Oydes a short distance after the turnoff for Carla-Bayle, a hilltop medieval fortified village also worth visiting.

16 km northwest of Pamiers, the village is a striking example of medieval circular architecture, initially conceived for the defense of the inhabitants. The houses surround the church in a closed elipse, and until the middle of the 19th century a moat around them made a third line of defense. (If both the moat and circle of houses were breached by attackers, the inhabitants took refuge in the clock tower.) The moat was filled in and paved over in the mid 19th century to suppress the stench given off by the stagnant water. According to local lore, there was no entrance to the village until 1862 when an entryway was created on the north side opposite the chateau. In 1880 a second was created when the post office was built. Before then, everyone had to pass through one house to reach the interior.

The interior walls of the church show several frescoes that retrace the traditional May pilgrimage to the miracle spring of Saint Anasthase, the parish's patron saint, a Benedictine monk who cared for plague victims. He died in St-Martin and was buried in the church in 1085.

The chateau dates from the 11th century and is surrounded by a brick wall, but not so high that a tall person can't see into the grounds.

Many thanks to these photographers

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