The former capital of Haute-Auvergne, Aurillac's origins date back to Gallo-Roman times and the town nestles at the foot of the Mounts of Cantal, on the banks of the Jordanne. This small Cantal river brings a very special charm to the town, especially in the Pont Rouge area, where you can enjoy a lovely view of the picturesque old houses by the water.
The thousand-year-old town of Aurillac boasts a rich architectural heritage. There is a historical circuit which you can follow to see the old town's attractions: the Abbey Church of St. Gerald, the remains of an old Benedictine abbey, the Romanesque façade of the Abbey Hospital of St. Gerald with its arcades and small columns, the Renaissance-style Consuls' Mansion, featuring mullioned windows and sculptures, Aurinques Chapel, built during the reign of Henry IV in the 16th century, or the famous Place du Square, an ideal place to take a stroll and unwind, can all be admired along the way.
Near the agreeable Carmes Garden, you can visit the Museum of Art and Archaeology. Based in the old 17th-century Visitandines Convent, as well as its archaeology and fine art collections, it contains a reconstruction of a traditional Cantal interior, a contemporary photographic archive, and a space devoted to the local umbrella industry.
Next, head towards the heights of the town to discover the medieval Saint-Étienne Castle and its Volcano Museum, a fascinating site about the volcanic history of Cantal and the mysteries of Planet Earth, featuring a permanent collection of rocks, minerals and taxidermy. After the visit, don't hesitate to pay a visit to the pretty park downhill from the castle, where you will have a lovely view of the town!
When it comes to events, if you like street arts, don't miss the international street theatre festival, which livens up the town for 4 days in late August.
If you are looking for a souvenir to take home, don't miss the chance to acquire an umbrella, Aurillac's most famous product, which has conquered the luxury goods industry and is exported all over the world!
The beginning of the Ridge Route (Route des Crêtes) begins at the exit from the town. This is a very beautiful itinerary which you can travel along by car, motorbike or bicycle, to enjoy stunning views over the Mounts of Cantal…
Aurillac developed around the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Geraud. Originally, it was the domain of Aurelius: Aureliacum. This rich gallo-roman character moved his remains well beyond the Temple of Aaron, at the mouth of the Jordanne valley, on the territory that perpetuated his name and become one of the city Aurillac.
This site opens widely in range...
The borders of Languedoc and Quercy, close to the foothills of the Cantal volcano, this site called sort of urban life. Yet for a long time, nothing is known, except that a castle rose on the heights overlooking the city to the north. He belonged in the first half of the ninth century a man of high degree, son, it is believed, Gerard I. count of Auvergne, who built in the meadow at the foot of the castle, a small church dedicated to St. Clement implying that some houses were to be grouped around the castle already called Saint-Etienne castle. At his death, his son Gerald inherited his vast estates which extended, says the chronicler, Puy Griou the Rouergue and Périgord. Gerald was a man renowned for his piety and kindness. He decided to found an abbey that he would give all his property and he built, to 896, the church of the future monastery next to it had to build his father. She was under the dual patronage of St. Peter and St. Clement before taking later that of its founder: Saint-Geraud.
After the death of Gerald (about 910)...
After the death of Saint Geraud, miracles that occurred around his tomb attracted such crowds of "crowds from more distant countries" that we had to build a larger church. Stephen II, Bishop of Auvergne, came to devote 972 and, says a document of that year, the bishop decided that the church would Aurillac now considered the second of his bishopric after that of its headquarters Episcopal in Clermont.
Ending in the tenth century, the abbey was booming...
And it is his school that went the monk Gerbert, one of the greatest scholars of his time, the "kingmaker", became pope under the name of Sylvester II in 999.
The pilgrims, among whom it takes the old King Robert, continued to arrive. One of them, Bernard of Angers, tells how, going to Conques around the year 1010, he made a visit to Aurillac attracted by the fame of the "majesty" of St. Gerald "resplendent gold purest and most precious jewels. " That of St. Foy in Conques, allows us to imagine what that of Saint Geraud.
In the second part of the eleventh century...
The church was again remodeled and Pope Urban II, returning to preach the crusade at the Council of Clermont, stopped there in 1095 to dedicate it again. However around the abbey, was developing a small town which gradually spread westward along the Jordanne and on the slope of Aurinques. A first enclosure, soon became too narrow, was supplemented by a second in the west and all was redone in 1347. This development of the medieval city is clearly visible on any current plan.
The "bourgeois" of Aurillac, ie the citizens of the city, appear for the first time in texts at the end of XII century. Their trade is active, it even meets the famous Champagne fairs. At the center of their village, they built a church dedicated to Our Lady on the site of the current city hall and very early to give consuls (judges, municipal...), in agreement with the Abbot which remains the Lord and for which they fight if necessary to the cry of "Aorlhac, Aorlhac, per san Guiral and the blind" (Aurillac, Aurillac for Saint Geraud and the abbot). We are in the land of Oc.
This good agreement lasted until the crisis of the Albigensian war. In 1233, riots broke out in the city. The Saint-Etienne castle, remains of the abbot, is destroyed. Therefore, the struggles were continually punctuated by the said conventions "Peace Aurillac" passed in 1280.1298 and 1347 between the abbot and the bourgeois.
A few years later the English wars debuted...
In Auvergne, the area was mostly Aurillac to suffer the ravages of the road bands who strove in vain to take the city protected by its ramparts and padlocked doors. Several times she had to pay heavy tribute to ward off looters. Yet it is at this time that was finally fixed in 1366, the seat of royal bailiwick of the mountains, thus affirming the role of administrative capital of the oldest town in Haute-Auvergne.
When peace returned, begins in the late Middle Ages, a time of reconstruction followed by a period of relative prosperity that came to trouble the religious wars. The Abbey, which had just been secularized in 1561, was completely devastated in 1569 by Protestants, like other monuments.
However, once the restored ruins, Aurillac reached adulthood, freed from the tutelage of the Abbey continues to grow on its initial momentum. City of Commerce and gown - the bailiwick of officers came to enlist in 1552 presidial those of the court - it begins to slip out of its walls no longer needed for defense. "Main city", she was in 1775, according the twentieth controller, "populous" and "well-built houses." Naturally, during the creation of the department in 1790, she intrigued for the top spot.
Saint-Flour, its rival beyond the mountains, do not agree. The system of alternation cut their quarrel. There was an end rather quickly and Aurillac finally became the capital of the Cantal. The eighteenth century saw the erosion of its walls, but the city was barely out of the enclosure of the fourteenth century. Not until the nineteenth century and especially the arrival of the railway in 1886 to attend a new push westward that continues today.
A place of trade and commerce...
For the entire department, Aurillac remains a crossroads but the city on the banks of the Jordanne is also an active cultural and tourist center where a large youth is welcomed in its secondary schools, and, more recently, higher.