A short history of Cordes and Le Chevalier Noir



This area has a rich and fascinating history, particularly from the mediaeval era. Originally simply called Cordes, the village was built around 1222 as a fortified hill-top, or Bastide, village by the Count of Toulouse. It was one of several such bastide villages in the area and served as strongholds against the armies of the French King and Roman Catholic Church who were determined to root out and destroy the local 'heretic' Cathars. The area was Cathar by religion, a kind of fundamentalist christian religion, and therefore was deemed to be a threat to the power and might of the mainstream Catholic Church by the Pope and had to be eliminated. Eventually the King's army (part of the Catholic Crusade against the Cathars) was triumphant but not until much blood had been spilled and several massacres. It is worth reading books on this interesting period of our local history.


Much later, the area became renowned for its embroidery and its fame spread far and wide. A particular local blue dye called Pastel ensured that the town had a readily identifiable cloth to sell.


The Chevalier Noir and the Gite were built around 1880-85, along with a large warehouse housing an embroidery factory just down the hill from us (now called La Gaudane). The three buildings made up the embroidery business. Le Chevalier Noir was the home of the manager of the embroidery factory, the Gite was home to the deputy manager. Where the swimming pool now is used to be the site of two or three old embroidery loom rooms of the factory. The owner of the business, M.Grosse, lived in a very grand house at the top of the old town.


During the second world war, soldiers from the german army were billeted in the embroidery factory and during the winter they proceeded to burn the roofing timbers for fuel, eventually leaving the main embroidery work-rooms in ruins. There is some confusion as to whether Le Chevalier Noir was used as the Officers' Quarters or a brothel. Maybe both.


In the 1960s Le Chevalier Noir became an hotel (of the same name) and continued as such well into the 1980s when it reverted to being a family home.


We have been the proud owners of Le Chevalier Noir and the Gite since 2007.