Now, I thought I knew a lot about the Midi-Pyrénées region, especially the multitude of beautiful villages and places to see, but this one just flew right under the radar and I ‘found’ it totally by accident.

I had just left another beautiful village, St Antonin de Noble Val, talking the awesome road that meanders along Les Gorges de L’Aveyron, between steep cliff faces and the meandering Aveyron river on a road as flat and smooth as an Axminster carpet.

The carpet part is something that I especially appreciate when I’m on my motorbike, and this road is a biker’s dream.

I have passed the sign for St Antonin hundreds of times on my way to and from Limousin – but had never given it much thought as a place to visit as most of my blogging trips were in the south of Toulouse.

I must say I was really happy and excited to discover these beautiful spots and the prospect of so many more to see in the future.

It should have been a crisp October day, but our Indian summer is such that the temperatures were hovering around the mid 30s – and not a hint of Autumn in the air.

One thing that really struck me was the friendliness of the villagers – there must be thousand of tourists who tramp the streets in the summer, but people were really friendly and helpful.

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The village of Penne is just like, I would imagine, it was like in medieval times, winding cobbled streets, a fortified church and the village gates still intact. The Château Royal towers above the village and overlooks the Aveyron river and the gorges of the same name. The village has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, with artefacts being found in the 19th century, the first nobels of the village appeared around the 6th century, when church was built by Saint Salvy, bishop of Albi.

The church that can be seen and visited today was built in the 12th and 13th centuries, when the village was surrounded by deep ditches, which have, through the centuries, been filled in.

In 1562, the protestants of Penne repelled the attack of Lieutenant Charry during the Wars of Religion, and were later defeated by the Royal Army and the Catholics, when 700 protestants, including women who defended the village, were massacred.

The village was retaken by the protestants under Philippe de Rabastens in 1568, when the church was partially destroyed – it was later rebuilt in the Gothic style and ‘turned’ to face west, whereas before it faced East.

Penne is such  beautiful, peaceful and evocative place that I think it better to let the photos speak for themselves – until you can visit it in person.

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