Often called "the city of a hundred Gothic arches," Cordes contains numerous maisons Gothiques, old houses built of pink sandstone. Many of the doors and windows are fashioned of pointed (broken) arches that still retain their 13th- and 14th-century grace. Some of the best preserved line Grand'Rue, also called "rue Droite."
Musée d'Art et d'Histoire le Portail-Peint (Musée Charles-Portal), Grand'Rue (tel. 04-85-91-16-82), is named after the archivist of the Tarn region who was also an avid historian of Cordes. The museum is in a medieval house, the foundations of which date from the Gallo-Roman era. It contains everyday artifacts of the textile industry of long ago, farming measures, samples of local embroidery, a reconstructed peasant home interior, and other medieval memorabilia. The museum is open Wednesday to Monday 2 to 6pm. Admission is 2.30€ adults, 1.10€ students and ages 12 to 25, free for children 11 and under.
Maison du Grand-Fauconnier (House of the Falcon Master), Grand'Rue, is named for the falcons carved into the stonework of the wall. A grandly proportioned staircase in the building leads to the Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain (tel. 05-63-56-14-79; www.cordessurciel.eu). Yves Brayer moved to Cordes in 1940 and became one of its most ardent civic boosters. After watching Cordes fall gradually into decay, he renewed interest in its restoration. The museum is open Wednesday to Monday: June to September 11am to 12:30pm and 2 to 7pm; November to March 2 to 5pm; April to May and in October 11am to 12:30am and 2 to 6:30pm; closed January. Admission costs 3.50€ adults, 2€ students, and free for children 11 and under.
Eglise St-Michel, Grand'Rue, dates from the 13th century, but many alterations have been made since. From the top of the tower you can view the surrounding area. Much of the lateral design of the side chapels was likely influenced by the cathedral at Albi. Before being shipped here, the organ (dating from 1830) was in Notre-Dame de Paris. The church can be visited only as part of guided visits arranged through the tourist office. With many exceptions, they're usually organized every day from 10:30am to 12:30pm and 3 to 6:30pm. Admission is free.
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