Notable sites and buildings

LAYRAC

the First Crusade. He consecrated the choir of the church of St Martin, which the The earliest traces of human settlement at Layrac go back to the Magdalenian period (towards the end of the Ice Age). Traces of occupation dating from both the Bronze and the Iron Ages have been found on its site. The existence in the commune of several Gallo-Roman villas has been confirmed. One of them, after invasions and abandonment, subsequently became the site of the first medieval village to be built on a promontory dominating the Gers. Another villa was the birthplace of the hamlet of Amans which evolved in the same fashion, and where you can still see the ruins of the Romanesque church of Sainte Marie. The village of Goulens was founded on the site of a Visigoth settlement.

A monastery founded in 1071 by Hunald, Viscount of Brulhois, formed the core of the village of Layrac. During the Middle Ages Layrac was an important town, thanks to its river transport fleet set up on the Gers and Garonne rivers. In 1273 Layrac was granted a Charter of Usage.

Famous guests passed through the town, for example Pope Urban II, who came to Layrac on the 7th May 1096 on his return from Clermont, where he had just preached Benedictines had begun building in 1075. A Romanesque mosaic in the church depicts floral motifs and also Samson killing the lion, an episode taken from the Old Testament.

The Queen of Navarre, Jeanne d’Albret, passed through Layrac on 15th January 1572, en route to Paris for the marriage of her son Henri, who became King Henri IV of France. He came to Layrac on 16th August 1576, as since the 1560s the town had been a stronghold of Protestantism in the Agenais. Then in September 1621, on the orders of King Louis XIII, its fortifications were destroyed by the Marshal of Roquelaure’s troops. Subsequently, Protestantism in Layrac began to decline. From 1629 to 1631 the town suffered a terrible plague, followed by a year of famine. These events paved the way for the establishment in 1633 of a Brotherhood of White Penitents.

The 18th century brought more tranquility and the town enjoyed a new boom, thanks to its wine production and river transport fleet.

Places and monuments

  • The Church of St Martin, 11th and 12th centuries, a classified historical monument with its Romanesque mosaic. One of the largest Romanesque churches with cupola on flat pendentives in France.
  • The Gothic porch with bell-tower above it (clocher-porche), 13th-14th centuries, remains of the old parochial church of Sainte Marie; also its first-floor room with Renaissance fireplace displaying the town’s coat of arms.
  • The old town, at the heart of the modern centre, where you can see several half-timbered houses in good condition.
  • Several old washing places (lavoirs), which have survived the passage of time.