In 72 BCE the Roman General Pompey, while on the way back to Rome after a military campaign in Spain, founded a Roman colony in Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges. The goal was to defend the passage to the Aran Valley and the Iberian peninsula. The colony was named Lugdunum Convenarum and had reached around 30,000 people at its highest point. It belonged to the Roman province of Novempopulana and had a growing Christian community, which by the late fourth century got its own Diocese of Comminges, which was suffragan of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Eauze.

It is believed to have been the place of exile from 39 AD of Herod Antipas, with his wife Herodias, under Emperor Caligula's orders. In 405 the Vandals sacked the city and forced the peasantry to move to the citadel.

In an open field just outside the village centre, this small archaeological site has a few ruins from the town's Roman days. You'll have to use your imagination to picture the theatre, market, temple and other public buildings from the fragments of low-rising stone foundations.

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Historic Village of Olargues

Olargues is a good example of a French medieval town and rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It was occupied by the Romans, the Vandals and the Visigoths. At the end of the 11th century the Jaur valley came under the authority of the Château of the Viscount of Minerve. The following centuries saw a succession of wars and epidemics, and it was not until the 18th century that Olargues became re-established. This was due to the prosperity of local agriculture and artisanal industry.

The Pont du Diable, 'Devil's Bridge', is said to date back to 1202 and is reputed to be the scene of transactions between the people of Olargues and the devil. The old village is clustered around the belltower, which was formerly the main tower of the castle (Romanesque construction). The old shops have marble frontages and overhanging upper storeys. A museum of popular traditions and art is to be found in the stairs of the Commanderie.