The pearl of the valley
Nestling in the valley of the Truyère, the town of the Malzieu is rich of a thousand-year-old history that reveal its cobbled and flowery streets. Today, this fortified town has managed to preserve and enhance a remarkable heritage that attracts numerous visitors every year.
In the heart of Margeride, the medieval town of the Malzieu will not leave you indifferent ! Throughout the year, its historic centre and its surroundings offer an atypical scenery and an ideal setting for a peaceful holiday… But, calm, the streets of the Malzieu-Ville have not always been throughout history!
So let’s go back in time, shall we ?
A city with an ancient…and eventful history !
Like many places in the region, the Malzieu area seems to have been inhabited since Neolithic times! But the oldest written mention of the town dates back to 881.
In 1055, Le Malzieu became the property of the Barons of Mercœur, one of the eight baronies of Gévaudan. The priory of Saint-Hippolyte was founded by the monks of the abbey of Saint-Gilles. In the 13th century, Le Malzieu got a brand new defence architecture (ramparts, keeps, watchtowers, fortified gates) to protect itself from the brigands who were ravaging the country at the time. During the Hundred Years Long War, the town was besieged and looted several times…
- In the 16th century, religious wars raged throughout the country and the Malzieu was not spared. In 1573, the Huguenot captain Mathieu Merle used all his cunning to take the fortified town and locked the town’s notables in the Clock Tower before ransoming their freedom!
In the 17th century, after a dark episode of black plague, a terrible fire ravaged the city… This period will also be the moment of the creation of the Brotherhood of the White Penitents in the current premises of the town hall and the convent of the Ursulines. You can also visit the convent in the summer, which has now been transformed into a museum!
From the Beast of Gévaudan to the present day…
The Malzieu-Ville and its surroundings will also be the scene of the famous story of the Beast of Gévaudan. From 1764 to 1767, it traumatised, attacked and killed in the region, leaving behind a still thick mystery that continues to fascinate ! To find out all about this dark affair, take a look at our summary here.
Last but not least, during the Second World War, Margeride was a hiding place for many Jewish families as well as for artists, philisophers, scientists and resistance fighters. In this respect, the psychiatric hospital of Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole, 10 kilometres south of Le Malzieu, plays a central role.
Le Malzieu will also be a place of passage for pilgrims coming from Le Puy-en-Velay and on their way to Santiago de Compostela, as attested by some period maps and shell inscriptions. Arriving in the town, they had to cross the Truyère on the Notre-Dame bridge, before heading towards Aubrac.
Today, what’s to do in the Malzieu-Ville ?
Today, the medieval town is a great place for holidays and excursions! Close to the historic centre, a charming lake awaits you for a picnic. Take this opportunity to observe the fauna and flora of this preserved site. If you are looking for some thrills, head for the Via-Ferrata of the Malzieu! Two secured acrobatic routes on the cliffside above the superb Truyère canyon… Not forgetting the climbing site, also in the gorges, with 67 routes. Finally, hiking will always be a good idea! Numerous paths await you sarting from the Malzieu, on foot, by bicycle or on horseback!
A festive village!
Nowaday a peaceful village of Margeride, the Malzieu-Ville comes alive as soon as the sunny days arrive. Festivals, concerts, markets, fairs, festivities: there is something for all tastes and all ages. Here’s an overview of the must-sees!
- Unforgettable – The Medieval Festival of Le Malzieu. Every year, during the long week-end of Ascension day, the medieval town dons its pennants, banners and coat of arms for three days of festivities! Immerse yourself in the atmosphere by clicking here.
- Fairy-tale like – The musical gatherings of Le Malzieu. At the beginning of August, when the days are still long and the nights refreshing, the Malzieu welcomes these gatherings where classical music and heritage meet. Four days of workshops, initiation for the youngest, theatre and concerts in the open air or in high places of local heritage. Discover the festival as if you were there by clicking here.
- Intriguing – The Days of the Beast. At the end of August, plunge into the eventful history of the Beast of Gévaudan during a festive weekend. On the schedule : a conference on the legend of the Beast, an art competition, the big “Read out of the Beast”, local producers, a night market and an evening concert.
- Picturesque – Markets. Whether it is the weekly market on Tuesday mornings, the night markets, the Malzévien Market or the Wool & Silk Market, the cobbled streets and the surrounding hills offer an idyllic setting. Don’t forget to take your basket and head for the market.
The Malzieu-Ville, an absolute must-see in Margeride !
Let yourself be bewitched by the charm of the cobbled streets, fortified towers that can be visited, ramparts and gates superbly restored. Whether you prefer a short stroll or a historical visit, a visit to the Ursuline Museum or the collegiate church of Saint-Hippolyte, a farmer’s market or a sporty walk, everyone will find something to suit their taste in this charming medieval city nestled on the banks of the Truyère river.