Blesle is classified as "Most beautiful villages in France", a must visit!
“Secret Escapes” went to meet the know-how of Haute-Loire with a spotlight on Blesle : with Claire Cattoir, which manufactures its own natural and organic cosmetics under the brand The Little Savages.
The history of the village
The history of the village begins in the XNUMXth century with the foundation of a Benedictine abbey.
From the beginning of the Middle Ages, the establishment of the Lords of Mercœur places the village under dual authority: religious and secular, causing numerous disputes to appropriate the rights of justice.
It was around the year 880 that Ermengarde, Countess of Auvergne, mother of Guillaume le Pieux, founder of Cluny, created a Benedictine abbey in Blesle, which was placed under the patronage of Saint Peter and protected by the Pope. Few traces remain of this period.
Descended from the nobility, the nuns were headed by an abbess. Around the XNUMXth century, the nuns abandoned community life to live alone or with their families, each in their homes. These are built around the cloister which ends up disappearing. The endowments of the abbey are, from the beginning, very important and are located in Haute-Loire, Cantal, Aveyron, Puy de Dôme and Lozère.
Forty-two abbesses followed one another until the Revolution.
The old center preserves a varied architecture where the rich residences of the notables rub shoulders with many half-timbered houses, faithful witnesses of a formerly important commercial activity.
With the XNUMXth century the development of Blesle begins. In the XNUMXth century the increase in the population was such that the abbess decided to build a second church, known as Saint-Martin and reserved for the people. A whole working population ensured the life of the city. A craft of very first value grafted itself on the important rural fabric, supporting the development of the liberal activities.
In 1558, a decree of the king's council aggregates Blesle to the thirteen good towns of Auvergne, which allows its representatives to sit in the assembly of the provincial states.
Its prosperity continued in the 1638th century, with beautiful houses with a portal surmounted by a pediment, as well as the chapel of La Chaigne built in XNUMX on a pilgrimage site.
At that time Blesle had 2000 inhabitants.
Blesle also knew secular lords. The end of the XNUMXth century marked the establishment of the powerful barons of Mercœur, with whom the nuns thought they would find protection, because Blesle had suffered from the long-haul truckers.
They build a fortress in the city. The dungeon is the main element, and take advantage of their position of strength to encroach on the rights and property of the abbey. Abbesses have to deal with lay lords and a long series of agreements and treaties ensue.
In 1321 the last lord of Mercœur died without a direct heir. There followed a long succession crisis which ended in 1716 with the sale of the seigneury and the château to Henri-Louis de Chavagnac, lord of the fief of the same name, located in the commune of Auriac l'Eglise in the Cantal.
From the end of the XNUMXth century the population decreased. During the Revolution, Blesle lost its abbey. And from the XNUMXth century, the decline in population, always constant, worsened with the arrival of the railway.