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Secrets of villages

Did you think you knew everything about our history? 🧐

But do you really know the secrets and unusual treasures of the Pyrenees 31? 🏔👑

Culture, heritage, architecture or simple anecdotes … 💬

You will love (re) discovering the Haut-Garonnaises Pyrenees through our series of “Secrets of villages”! 🤫


Secrets of villages

Episode 14/76 – Jurvielle

Surprising – Nature – Interesting – Unusual – History – Funny

Do you know the pretty little village of …


Jurvielle / The legend of Tantugou

Do you know Pyrenean mythology and more particularly Tantugou, the pagan protector of shepherds?

He lived in the Larboust and Oueil valleys and the villagers represented him as a tall, bearded old man. He was dressed in a hooded tunic or sometimes animal skins. He was in charge of supervising the crops and the herds. To accomplish his task, he would sometimes sleep on a rock near the animals. He hunted thieves and predators and of course knew all the secrets of nature.

Tantugou rarely shows itself to humans. Nevertheless, we know from Julien Sacaze (see Castillon de Larboust’s “village secrets”) in his great survey of linguistics and toponymy of the Pyrenees, in 1887, that “la Vermoulue, the wife of Sajous de Jurvielle, saw Tantugou three times. days in a row in the woods of Trémesehoues, and he spoke to her ”.

If there has never been a narrative around a severity or punishment of Tantugou, people feared him and over time he even became in these valleys a sort of bogeyman. It is not rare that even nowadays, a mother exasperated by the stupidities of her child threatens her with the arrival of Tantugou.

Jurvielle tantugou legend

Episode 13/76 – Saint-Béat-Lez

Surprising – Nature – Interesting – Unusual – History – Funny

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Saint-Béat-Lez / The transport of marble and wood

The Yvelines Departmental Archives keep a document as spectacular as it is little known, around ten long and beautiful 18th century maps, drawn and colored, representing the Garonne, from its source to Bordeaux. These maps of the Cours de la Garonne, drawn up between 1716 and 1720, contributed to one of the most spectacular operations in the sumptuary staging of royal power: to effectively float the Pyrenean marbles as far as Versailles.

Indeed, become essential to the splendor of Versailles, the marble of the Pyrenees and in particular that of Saint-Béat must reach the king easily and without hindrance. In addition Colbert needs wood for the Navy and he chooses the Pyrenees to extract as much as possible. The Garonne is the answer to everything!

The order is clear and we have to organize ourselves. Pierre de Lassus is appointed inspector of the Pyrenees marbles and will remain in Montrèjeau, a river port at the junction between the Neste and the Garonne. The journey of the radeliers then took them to Bordeaux.

But the organization remains difficult, mainly because of the ignorance of the places and the difficulties which are there. In 1716, the best cartographer in the country was sent: Hyppolite Matis, geographer to the king in order to locate and estimate the problems which arose on the Garonne.

At the end of 1719, Matis was paid 1,300 pounds “for his days as a designer and supplies of wood, candle, paper, pen, colors and brushes used to make the maps, plans and drawings of the marble quarries in the Pyrenees and the course of the river. de la Garonne, de la Neste and for the navigation of the King’s marble carriages ”

The resumption of the roads and the rectification of the courses, according to his instructions, were done little by little, with the help of the rafters and the quarrymen, in particular to “clean and repair” the banks or to blow up the troublesome rocks in the bed or on the banks of the Neste and Garonne rivers, which increased safety but also increased the capacity of rafts and the price of logs


Saint beat card



CITY AND QUARRY OF SAINT-BÉAT, detail of the map of Pyrenean marble sites; H. Matis, 1719. AD Yvelines, A 404.

Source: To make the marbles float better: “the maps of the course of the Garonne” drawn up in 1716-1720 by Hyppolite Matis, geographer of the king / Pascal JULIEN

Episode 12/76 – Genos

Surprising – Nature – Interesting – Unusual – History – Funny

Do you know the pretty little village of …


Génos / The Pyrenean house

In the Pyrenees, the house was the symbol of the family and it was ultimately placed above people. The house becomes an entity in its own right.

Indeed, the house is indivisible between the heirs and unsaleable by the head of the house (at least morally). The mode of transmission of the house as well as of all the goods concerned (land, equipment, animals, etc.) is called the “birthright”. In fact, the eldest of the family, boy or girl, becomes the sole successor and is responsible for protecting the house and if possible to make it grow. Failure to differentiate between men and women may seem egalitarian, but unfortunately this is not really the case. Firstly because it happened that we chose the one in the siblings who had the most assets 😊 and also because only one in the siblings inherited everything. Not very egalitarian, all that !!! The cadets then had the choice of either marrying an eldest girl, or putting themselves in the service of another house or finally going into exile.

The house can hold up to a dozen people: from elders to young people, including nephews, cousins and servants.

Customary law dictates that the head of the family attends village assemblies (ancestors of municipal councils) where decisions relating to the life of the parish are processed.

Each house is personalized by a surname. This name can reveal a geographical peculiarity (ço from above = that from above), trade names (ço deth haurer = that of the blacksmith), nickname (ço deth cargo = snail), first names or diminutives (ço de Tran = that of Bertrand). In the mountain Comminges, people were not designated by their surname but by their first name attached to the name of the house (Julie de pachera = julie de la Passerelle)

In 2005, 3 residents of the village of Génos found almost all the names of the houses in the town. It should nevertheless be noted that they “invented” the names of very recent houses. This document is available for consultation at the town hall of Génos.



Source: Isaure Gratacos Pyrenean Women / Louis Assier Andrieu The spirit of the Pyrenean house. Madame Montsérié, her daughter and Madame Pradère for their work on the names of the houses of Génos

Episode 11/76 – Castillon de Larboust

Surprising – Nature – Interesting – Unusual – History – Funny

Do you know the pretty little village of …

Castillon de Larboust?

Julien sacaze> A brilliant researcher

Who knows Julien Sacaze? For most of us, he is an illustrious stranger, for some a vague name already heard and for others a key figure in our territory.

Born in 1847 in Saint-Gaudens, we must specify that his paternal family has been from Castillon de Larboust for a very long time. And even if he obtained his baccalaureate at the age of 16 and left to study law in Toulouse, he returned to Saint-Gaudens in 1872 to register as a lawyer at the city bar. Very quickly, after marrying a Luchonnaise, he was divided between Saint-Gaudens for his profession as a lawyer and Luchon for his passion for archeology and history.

Very quickly and in the company of his friend the prehistorian Edouard Piette, he will carry out numerous excavations and together, they will make many discoveries, particularly in the mountain of Espiau (a subject that we will talk about again in other Secret de village but for the ‘instant shhhhh …!);)

In 1880, after a trip to Italy, he discovered epigraphy, a new science to which he devoted himself fully by making several publications.

In the meantime, on May 31, 1884, Julien Sacaze founded the Société des études du Comminges in Saint-Gaudens. All the members of society are essentially made up of lawyers, owners, doctors and teachers. In 1885, this Society published its first issue of the Revue de Comminges (in 130 copies). This company and this magazine still exists today.

In 1887, he participated in the International Exhibition in Toulouse, as a member of the organizing committee of the Pyrenean Exhibition. For this occasion, Sacaze is launching a major survey of linguistics and toponymy of the Pyrenees, the famous Julien Sacaze survey. The teachers of the Pyrenean departments are asked to: 1) translate two folk texts, the legend of Barbazan and the legend of Tantugou, into the local idiom; 2) the list of place names; 3) the map. This survey is a monumental work, infinitely valuable for the study of the linguistics and toponymy of the Pyrenean Midi.

In 1888, he founded the Pyrenean Association in Toulouse and died suddenly, in November 1889, at the age of 42.

In 1922, its name was given to a new learned society, the Académie Julien Sacaze. Its object is the study of any scientific, literary or artistic question relating to the central Pyrenees and more particularly to the Pays de Luchon ”. Its head office is still at the Luchon Museum

Here you have made the acquaintance of Julien Sacaze, of whom it has been said that “he therefore held by deep roots to this old soil of the Comminges that he loved so much”.

Did you know ? What is an epigraphist: he is a specialist who studies ancient inscriptions engraved on different media: stone, metal, wood, terracotta … His work helps archaeologists and historians to better understand the civilizations of pass

Julien sacaze

Source: Revue du Comminges 1-2013, In the footsteps of Julien Lacaze (André Sangay)

ETHNOPÔLE GARAE website http://www.garae.fr/

Episode 10/76 – Fos

Surprising – Nature – Interesting – Unusual – History – Funny

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Fos and the Lies et Passeries du Plan d’Arem treaty

The central Pyrenees contributed to the notion of border. The observation of these mountains and the lines of ridges gave credence to the concept of a natural border.

Originally, the contracts concluded between the mountain dwellers were only “peace”. Subsequently, this word is replaced by “passeries” which expresses the passage. It is completed by the term “lies” which indicates the bond sealed by the oath, the contract and therefore the peace. Putting an end to feudal exactions, to violence for the possession or use of pastures, these agreements established a return to good neighborly relations.

On April 22, 1513, the “lies et passeries” of the Plan d’Arrem was signed between the Comminges (to the gates of Toulouse) and the Val d’Aran in order to renew older agreements. These agreements were signed despite the period of conflict between France and Aragon in order to restore peace and economic exchanges between all the neighboring valleys.

Why is it called the Plan d’Arrem treaty? Quite simply because it was signed on this locality located on the Franco-Spanish border, south of Fos, just before the Pont du Roi and the Aran valley.

And we do not resist summarizing for you the first two articles of this treaty which say a lot about the bond between our two peoples:

Article 1: It is about free movement of men and goods on both sides of the border

Article 2: the inhabitants of this space will be able to continue to trade and to communicate even in time of war between the two crowns of France and of Aragon.

On April 20, 2013, a stele was inaugurated to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Plan d’Arem treaty in the presence of all elected officials from both French and Spanish territory. This stele was made by sculptor Gloria Corona, native of Val d’Aran and adopted Commingeoise. And since, every year, a commemorative day is organized by the Community of communes Pyrenees Haut Garonnaises and the Aranese authorities.

If you pass by there, take the time to stop to admire this stele and to think about this first European treaty. It’s still, when you think about it, quite extraordinary.

Sources: The mutations of lees and passeries in the Pyrenees from the 14th to the 18th century Serge Brunet / le Revue du comminges tome 2 2013 René Souriac Treaty Lies et passeries

Stele Fos

Photo: Community of Communes of the Haut-Garonnaises Pyrenees

Episode 9/76 – Huos

Surprising – Nature – Interesting – Unusual – History – Funny

Do you know the pretty little village of …


Our villages are full of legends and often they try to explain the origin of the names of the villages.

What a funny name Huos is! During festive meals, harvests or peel-pork, the village elders often recounted the origin of the name Huos.

It was an unnamed village and no one could agree to give one. One day, the villagers agreed. They were going to have a meal with all of them and the first one to say a word would give it as a name. Everyone took their place and everyone ate in great silence. Suddenly loud noises were heard and a chair fell. A man took his throat and shouted: u bone! u bone! in patois. It was therefore decided on the name of the village 😊

In the book “Toponymie du Haut Comminges” by Jacques Tesseire, we can find a similar legend with different variations. But according to this author, probably, Huos would come from Hunnoossu, domain of Hunnu, Aquitaine character with the suffix -ossu

Sources: Toponymy of Haut-Comminges by Jacques Tesseire and village meal


Google Images

Episode 8/76 – Trébons-de-Luchon

Surprising – Nature – Interesting – UnusualHistory – Funny

Do you know the pretty little village of …


In the work of Doctor Ernest Lambron (doctor and assistant inspector of the Thermes de Luchon) entitled “The Pyrenees and the sulphurous thermal waters of Bagnères de Luchon” published in 1860 are described the ferruginous sources of the region including those of Salles, Barcugnas , Castel-Vieil and more particularly that of Trébons de Luchon. It is the one that appears to be the most abundant in the region. He evokes its therapeutic role and its medicinal virtues against goiter and anemia and even envisages an exploitation in the form of baths …

Most of these sources belonged to private individuals, that of Trébons was owned by Joseph Lauran dit Grognet, from the village of CAZARIL. Located on the mountain of CAZARIL, it is about 4 kilometers from the village. To get there, you have to follow the road to Bigorre or St Aventin; take, after having passed the second bridge by a few hundred steps, the small path which goes up to the right to the village of TREBONS, pass at the foot of the church and follow the path which extends horizontally on the side of the mountain towards the tower of Castel-Blancat. We have not taken 200 steps on this path that we find the kind of small stone and wooden hut in which this source is enclosed. Its flow is considerable; it flows by a jet which is more than 2 centimeters in diameter and its temperature, of 11 °, remains invariable, whatever that of the ambient air.

Did you know ? Ferruginous water is a variety of easily red mineral water. This phenomenon occurs in nature when groundwater, highly mineralized and rich in iron, oxidizes and oxygenates upon reaching the surface. … The longer the duration of the presence of this water, the more the water becomes charged with iron oxide, and the more its color becomes red.

Source: Participatory site of the municipality of Trébons-de-Luchon https://www.trebons-de-luchon.fr/


Luchon trebons


Luchon trebons



Episode 7/76 – Chaum

Surprising – Nature – Interesting – Unusual – History – Funny

Do you know the pretty little village of …


A vulture finds refuge in a DIRSO car!

Funny meeting on Friday October 4, 2019, for a patroller in intervention on the RN125. A vulture landed on the hood of a vehicle of the Interdepartmental Roads of the South-West. Very playful by nature, he then decided to change his point of view by getting into a gendarmerie car. This adventure ended very well for him, he was finally recovered in good health by an ONF team.

The Griffon Vulture

It is one of the largest raptors in France. It has a natural role of rendering the mountain, since it is a scavenger, that is to say it feeds exclusively on corpses. It is a legally protected species that almost disappeared in France in the 1970s. Due to the change in regulations concerning landfills in Spain during the year 2007, there is a massive arrival of griffon vultures in the French Pyrenees.

Sources: Sites de France bleu, 20 minutes, The Republic of the Pyrenees



Episode 6/76 – Miss

Surprising – NatureInteresting – Unusual – History – Funny

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There is always something going on in Melles …

There’s a whole lot going on in this little village on the mountainside, located on the Franco-Spanish border.

In Melles, citizens’ days are regularly organized, but also the release of a stamp book, a brotherhood of Saouméts, the renovation of the Sestagnous hut, the creation of an eco-responsible bivouac area and recently the creation of tee-shirts…

But who says Melles says Ours, in fact, the village is at the origin of the reintroduction of brown bears in the Central Pyrenees, with the establishment of a bear memorial, in front of the corridor where Ziva was released. , Mellba and Pyros.

You know what ? : In 2013, scenes from an animal film were shot in Melles with Jean-Philippe Roman and the “Shadow” bear. This shoot was made as part of the documentary “The Most Beautiful Country in the World” broadcast on France Television.

Director Jacques Malaterre (to whom we owe in particular “The Odyssey of the Species”) presents the fauna and flora of France. Jean-Philippe Roman, favorite trainer of French cinema took part in the shooting as well as the 800 kilo mastodon “Shadow” bear, who has exercised his talents as an actor in numerous cinema films, TV films and commercials.

Text: Sources from the Melles Town Hall website

Photos Bear Memorial of Pays de l’ours-Adet / A. Reynes

Melles memorial

Episode 5/76 – Bourg d’Oueil

Surprising – Nature – Interesting – Unusual – History – Funny

Do you know the pretty little village of …

Bourg d’Oueil?

Arnica Montana, a medicinal plant known from the central Pyrenees.

Arnica, do you know? Today it is found in balm, cream or granules against strokes or muscle pain.

Arnica is a plant easy to identify in our mountains, its yellow flowers are quite significant. Like rhododendrons and blueberries, arnica loves acid lawns and high altitude pastures. And our grandmothers and great-grandmothers carefully noted the recipes for decoctions, macerations, poultices and arnica-based infusions.

Indeed, this plant has been known since at least the Middle Ages to treat concussions and bruises, soothe coughs, purge noses and keep lice away !!! But beware, this plant is highly toxic and in high doses could be fatal.

In the mountains to the south of Comminges, arnica could have different names. Many were found above Bourg d’Oueil and in the village it was called “tabacària” because it could replace tobacco. If you go for a walk in the pastures on the heights of Bourg d’Oueil and you discover this pretty flower, do not pick it, it is protected. Consider taking a picture of her instead, she is so cute 🙂

Source La revue du Comminges2017-2 Chronicles by Robert Pujol

arnica bourg d'oueil

Episode 4/76 – Seilhan

Surprising – Nature – Interesting – UnusualHistory – Funny

Do you know the pretty little village of …


For the vast majority of the inhabitants of our region, it is a very well-known locality. It is located at the exit of the roundabout of the A64 motorway slip road, at the crossroads between Gourdan-Polignan, Huos and Seilhan. This is the “Bazert”!

Do you know that “Baesert” is a typical divinity of the Pyrenean foothills? He could have been the “boar” god according to an engraving on a votive altar found in the town of Seilhan.

Of course, the Bazert has always been an important crossroads and until the 2ème half of the 18ème In the 19th century, the road which was used and which had just been completed by the Intendant d’Etigny (that reminds us something…^^) went from Saint-Gaudens to Montréjeau and then passed by Bazert in the direction of Bagnères de Luchon. In 1759, it was decided to build a new path going from Valentine to the Bazert cross. This site seemed quite useless even in the eyes of the intendant of Etigny.

But the bishop of Comminges who resided at the castle of Alan (near Martres Tolosane) demanded an easy road which would lead him to Saint-Bertrand de Comminges. It was not until the death of Etigny in 1767 that work on this new road began.

But this construction caused a conflict with the population …

To know the rest of this story, you will have to wait for our next episode of village secrets in Ardiège 😊

Source: Extract from the site of the Trente Mai editions, specializing in mythological walks

Rural communities and powers in Gascony in the 18th century by Maurice Bordes

Website of the municipality of Seilhan

Seilhan Secrets of Village

Episode 3/76 – Marignac

Surprising – Nature – Interesting – Unusual – History – Funny

Do you know the pretty little village of …


“Many children were born in Marignac!”

On January 25, 1954, the birthing clinic “les Bengalis” was opened in Marignac. It was created by Mme Eugénie Boyer and her sister, both midwives.

Before being installed in the “Bengalis”, Eugénie Boyer practiced home deliveries. She then moved with the means of transport of the time: the tram between Marignac and Fos, sometimes the milk collector, sometimes by hitchhiking even if the vehicles were few. After the departure of Mrs. Boyer, it was Mrs. Abraham who took over and the management of the maternity hospital until it closed on June 27, 1975.

In total, 1968 babies were born in the Bengalis, in the heart of the village of Marignac, and their mothers came from Luchon or even from Montréjeau, the Barousse valley and even the Val d’Aran. It stays between us, but our little finger told us that a member of the Pyrenees 31 Tourisme team was born in the Bengalis… Who could it be?

Source: Town Hall of Marignac

Photo ALIX Maternity Marignac

Episode 2/76 – Trash

Surprising – Nature – Interesting – Unusual – History – Funny

Do you know the pretty little village of …


“Le Calhou d’Arriba Pardin”

In the valleys of Larboust, Oueil and the high Luchonnaise valleys, there are stones with magical and fertilizing power, including a very famous one in Poubeau: the Calhau d’Arriba Pardin, that is to say the pebble at the top. of the meadow.

Halfway between the cultivated world and the wild mountain, pagan rites and religious worship, this megalith (erected block) was the site of very strange rituals.

The evening of Mardi Gras took place the festival of Gagnolis (slips): the young men of the village went up in single file towards the rock, uttering barks. They lit a bonfire and made a little “Holé Holé” farandole around the stone. Women in search of motherhood came to rub their bellies against this “calhau”.

From 1850, the parish priest rebelled against these practices and decided to put an end to them and to forget these sulphurous rites. He had a cross sealed on part of the rock and the other part disappeared. However, according to some rumors, this stone still exercises its magical power on women in need of children today 😊.

Source: the Revue du Comminges 2017-2 Mathieu Fauré La Saint-Jean in Pays de Luchon: fire, stone and water

Website T4T35 Megaliths of the world

Megalith trash

Episode 1/76 – Saint-Pé-d’Ardet

Surprising – Nature – Interesting – Unusual – History – Funny

Do you know the pretty little village of …

Saint-Pé d’Ardet?

Its lake, its church, its chapel and its 148 souls … 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

Well, as incredible as it may seem, in 1881, there were 555 inhabitants in this village of Frontignes and many shops 🏣🛍: a large fabric store, an ecclesiastical bookstore, 4 grocery stores, a bakery, 3 butchers , 3 inns, 1 café and 1 restaurant.

There are also candle makers, blacksmiths, locksmiths, masons, carpenters, wheelwrights, shoemakers, weavers, tailors… It seems completely incredible today! 🤓 But by the way, do you know what a wheelwright is? He was a craftsman who manufactured and repaired all vehicles before motorization: plows, carts, wheelbarrows… 😉👍

Extract from the monograph of Saint-Pé d’Ardet – Departmental Archives of Haute-Garonne

Saint-Pé d'ardet