Day 5: Rest Day in Conques***

Conques*** is one of the highlights of this trip, clearly worth several hours or more of your time. The carving above the doorway to the Church of Saint Foy (1031-1140) of the Last Judgment ***- a”tympanum – is incredible, as are some of the goldwork in the church’s treasury***, claimed to be the richest goldwork collection in France, the most famous of which is the Majesté d’Or statue. The town is lovely, registered as among the most beautiful in France.

You will not only enjoy spending a day wondering about the town and its shops (and nearby sights), but also you should not miss the evening events at the church, which will keep you up late and inhibit an early start tomorrow.

The treasure of medieval gold work in Conques is open from 9:30 to 12:30 an 2:00 -6:15. One reason for this rest day is that you are unlikely to see it the day of your arrival, given the hills and the need to check in to your lodging. Another is that you will need to stay up late to attend the events at the church, listed below.

Hostellerie of the Abbey, Conques

In the evening, the Conques church organ plays concert music as the sun sets, refracted in the recent, controversial, modernistic, duotone stained-glass windows of the church. The following is the high season programing from April until October 8:

  • 21:00: Presentation of the tympanum by friar Jean-Daniel (in French) – at 18:30 on October 8
  • 21:30: Night tour of the upper-gallery of the church in music: Discovery of the Romanesque capitals, the glass windows by Pierre Soulages under the light and pipe-organ show (Fee: 6€, access for public older than 12 years old). Except on October 8
  • 22:15: Polychromy of the Tympanum – By night, the progressive revealing of the colours offer a revisited reading of the 12th century tympanum and its 124 sculpted figures. Composing the Last Judgment and depicting the celestial Court, the angels, the elected, the condemned and other devils come to life. 
  • Program from October 9 to 15 and on October 27, 28 and 29 : 18h30 Presentation of the tympanum ; 21h Night tour of the uppergalley in music ; 21h45 Polychromy of the Tympanum

“Polychrome” describes the paint that covered sculptures and friezes in ancient times. Usually polychrome has worn off, leaving the bare stone that we associate with Greek, Roman and medieval art. But microscopic traces of the colors remain, allowing art historians to create images that represent the art as it originally appeared. Thus at night in Conques they can project accurate colors upon the Tympanum. In my opinion,seeing the polychromed tympanum is an experience not to be missed.

The Tympanum of the Church of Saint-Foy, Conques
Saint-Foy Majesty, art of the 11th century.

Link to Day 6: To Figeac