Situated on the eastern side of the Pays Lauragais, the ancient fortified city of Saint Papoul has conserved its medieval style with its lanes of half-timbered houses. The abbey is to one side of the village, at its southern entrance.
Founded during the 8th century, the Benedictine Abbey is closely linked to the figure of Saint Papoul. This evangelist of the Lauragais, a disciple of Saint Sernin, Toulouse's first bishop, was probably martyred in the area.
However, thanks to Saint Berenger, the abbey became famous in the 11th century. The future Saint Berenger was a monk at Saint Papoul, where he led an exemplary life until his death. His burial place, said to be miraculous, attracted many pilgrims over a long period of time, resulting in prosperity for the abbey.
In 1119, the Abbey of Saint Papoul was the possession of the Abbey of Alet, at that time, very powerful. The golden age arrived during the 15th century, thanks to the creation of the bishopric of Saint Papoul by Pope Jean XXII, in 1317. The second Bishop of Saint Papoul, Raymond de Mostuejouls, wrote the statutes concerning the cathedral's chapter (1320).
Later, the abbey underwent several assaults such as plundering by mercenaries in 1361, or the anger of the Protestant troops in 1595. The bishops rapidly became concerned by the resulting degradation of the abbey. Pierre Soybert, who became bishop in 1426, renovated the totality of the buildings. Then, in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Episcopal Palace was built and many buildings were consolidated.
The cloister was seriously damaged during the French Revolution which also marked the end of the Saint Papoul bishopric. It was not until 1840 that restoration began. The abbey buildings remain and the former abbey church has become the parish church.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.