Loze: a Tiny Village on the Causse

Loze - glycine

Magnificent wisteria in Loze

Sometimes life takes you over. I’ve brought out two books in the space of a month and sung in two concerts, in Gaillac and a tiny hamlet near Puycelsi, in the past 10 days. I’m notorious for trying to do everything at once, but this is not always a recipe for success. So Life on La Lune has suffered a little as a result. Time for a little TLC.

This area is peppered with attractive and historic villages. It’s a pleasure for me to visit them and then to indulge my love of history by writing about them here. I hope I can give you some ideas for places to visit if you are planning to visit, or even if you already live here.

Bonnette Valley view

Bonnette Valley

A couple of weeks ago, our walking group met in the tiny village of Loze on the causse (plateau), with a wonderful view along the Bonnette Valley. Loze is a very well-kept village with some lovely stone cottages. The village itself is on the Quercy side of the river, the ancient region that takes its name from the Latin for oak, quercus. But the commune straddles the valley and the hillside opposite, which is in the ancient province of Rouergue.

What’s in a name?

The name is interesting and has several possible origins. One is the Occitan word lòsa, which means mud or silt. This could refer to the terrain around the village (although I thought it was rather dry up there) or possibly to the soil in the valley below.

Bach - gariotte

Gariotte (shepherd’s hut) at Bach, roofed with lauzes

Another possible origin, which I find more plausible, is that it came from the word lauza, which means a flat stone. Formerly, these stones, about six cm thick, were used for roofing and you can still see them on pigeonniers, gariottes (shepherds’ huts) or wells. On the Cassini map of France, which was drawn up in the 18th century, Loze is spelled Lauze.

Section from Cassini Map

In this section from Cassini Map, Lauze appears at the top just below and to the left of Puy la Garde

Prehistoric origins

There’s evidence that people occupied the area as long ago as 10,000 BC. The Romans were there, too, and left a Roman road that is now a series of dirt tracks. A château once belonged to the Counts of Toulouse, but little, if any, of it remains.

Loze - church

Church in Loze

The first mention of the church is in 1112. A century later, it became part of the important Templar Commandery in Lacapelle Livron, just up the road towards Caylus. The church bell tower with a hat is a little unusual for these parts, this style being more common in the Auvergne. Normally, around here they have square towers or spires.

Loze - church front

Bell tower

Loze - belltower

Close-up of bell tower

I have been unable to find any specific mentions of the village’s history, but I would be surprised if it emerged unscathed from the Hundred Years War, the plague and the Wars of Religion. All of those took their toll on the area.

As in most of these villages, the population declined hugely during the late 19th and 20th centuries. Its apogee was in 1800, when 667 inhabitants were recorded. By 1975, this had plummeted to 83 people. The most recent census shows a population of 139 in 2015. The accuracy of the 1800 figures might be called into question, but there’s no doubt that the difficulties of scratching a living on the causse and the progressive rural exodus after 1900 were responsible for the decline.

Agricultural tourism

Fortunately, some have chosen to establish businesses in the commune. Le Mas de Monille, on the hill opposite the village with the Bonnette in between, is a farm where Gascon black pigs and Caussade hens are bred. You can buy the products and also eat there.

Down in the valley, Marie-Ange and Benoît Chamerois rear goats at le Moulin de Vignasse. They make delicious goat’s cheeses, which they sell at the local markets. Marie-Ange can be found at the Caylus Saturday market in the cheese season, always smiling and happy to explain the different cheeses. You’ll also find the cheese in local shops. Among my favourites are those which Marie-Ange rolls in a mixture of herbs and spices.

Goats

Goats chez Chamerois

Water and stone

Loze - Bonnette waterfall

Bonnette in spring

Despite the dryness of the causse, this is a land of water. In summer, the Bonnette reduces to a trickle. In winter and spring it can be a rushing torrent. The causse is riddled with limestone caves, gouged out by the underground springs. Some of them are home to bats and birds of prey.

Bonnette spring below Loze

Spring below Loze

The Loziens have made use of a cave near the village to set up a Christmas crèche every year. These photos date from several years ago and I haven’t visited it recently to see if the crèche has changed. It’s a rather nice idea, don’t you think?

You might also like:

Watery Walk – La Vallée de la Bonnette
Goats, Grain and Gremlins
A Crèche with a Difference

Copyright © 2018 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved

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About nessafrance

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
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25 Responses to Loze: a Tiny Village on the Causse

  1. I found your blog just by typing in Geraniums 🙂 glad I did. will be catching up on your posts…so beautiful the pictures so far I have seen on your blog x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely!! Just back; from Naples in Italy which was chilly, stormy and wet … then to our old home in Tuscany; rainy, foggy and cool … into Provence which was frighteningly torrential … and now home in the Aveyron to winter cold and wet! It’s been snowing heavily in the Auvergne … what a spring! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      It seems that only northern parts of Europe are basking in it at the moment. My husband spoke to his sister in Sweden yesterday. She was just off to the seaside – 27 degrees C! We had the central heating and the woodburner going. The day we went to Loze was just a blip in the generally dire weather, it seems.

      Like

  3. Stuart Webster says:

    Vanessa,thank you for your recent post.Certainly whetted my appetite for my 2 week visit with some of the family to Tarn et Garonne in August.I think my favourite time is late afternoon/early evening when the temperature is often very warm but the light has that golden mellow feel about it- if I was a poet,I could describe it more eloquently!

    On to one of my passions,I wonder if you are familiar with the French website resistance82?…it provides compressive details about memorials,resistant groups,individuals etc in that department during WW2.If you haven’t accessed it before,it might provide you with some new areas of interest to research.

    Hope you are ok,please save some of that lovely sunshine for me

    Best wishes
    Stuart

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      Hello Stuart, I hope you’re well. I have too much on my plate, but it’s all self-imposed, so I can’t complain.

      Do get in touch, if you wish to, of course, when you come down to T&G. It would be lovely to meet you if you have the time during your holiday.

      Yes, I have come across that website – thanks for mentioning it. I haven’t fully explored it yet. As you know, I’m a bit of a dilettante when it comes to blog topics. But I’d like to look at it in more detail.

      As for the sunshine, it is woefully lacking right now. After a brief truce in April, we are shivering in 7C (yesterday) and the rain it raineth every day. I hope August’s weather will be good when you come.

      Thanks so much for your interest in the blog.

      Like

      • Stuart Webster says:

        Vanessa,thank you for your reply and particularly your kind invitation.
        It would be lovely to meet you and have a chat hopefully over over a glass of wine or two.
        Best wishes

        Stuart

        Liked by 1 person

      • nessafrance says:

        Let me know when you’re coming – or even when you’re here – and we’ll see what we can arrange. Email vanessa [dot] couchman [at] nordnet [dot] fr.

        Like

  4. Osyth says:

    As ever, I enjoyed this stroll … the luscious wisteria, the lovely stone buildings, the sunshine and your words make for a lovely cocktail. I have been away for several weeks from this place since I have been effecting a rather major move. Now that I am settled it is good to get back into reading (and will be writing) posts again. But I have missed something vital – two books …. where can I find these tomes, please. Having finally read ‘Zaronza’ and loved it, I need to know where to source more of your excellent work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      I’m glad to see you back and am, of course, intrigued by your major move, but no doubt all will be revealed. Thanks for the kind words about Zaronza. I actually reissued it in April myself, having parted amicably from my publisher. That was one of the two. The other one is The Corsican Widow, also set on Corsica (the title gives it away!). It’s on Amazon everywhere. http://mybook.to/CorsicanWidow
      I also issued some short stories in November as a collection. After all this activity, I am rather looking forward to getting on with novel no. 3, which is about 2/3 there and is set in France. Thanks so much for your interest.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Osyth says:

        I will order The Corsican Widow. My husband is now reading Zaronza. My interest is purely selfish, I assure you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • nessafrance says:

        Thank you. I hope you enjoy it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Vanessa, I suppose you know that Sharon Santoni (wholives in Normandy and writes the wonderful Blog “My French Country Home”) is married to a Corsican?

        —-david terry
        hillsborough, NC

        Liked by 1 person

      • nessafrance says:

        Hello again, David. I hadn’t actually come across Sharon Santoni before, but I’ve had a quick look at her blog and it does look very good, so I shall go back and read more when I have a moment. With a name like Santoni, the Corsican connection is clear. It’s a fairly common Corsican name. I was thinking of naming one of my characters Santoni, but went for something else in the end. Too many characters already beginning with S was the reason, I think.

        Like

  5. Paul Diamond says:

    Always a pleasure to read your blogs. We are counting the days until we get over at the end of June for almost a month! Just by looking at your photos I can image the bird song, the smell of the air and the warmth of the sun. After a particularly long and brutal 5 month Canadian winter we cant wait…can taste our local wine, cheese and baguettes already!

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      I don’t know about warmth of the sun, but I hope there will be some when you come. We had a gloomy, damp winter – the worst in our 21 years here – and the spring has not been much better, except for a week or so in April when it was lovely. We were lucky when we went for the walk around Loze a fortnight ago. That was a rare fine day! Fingers crossed it improves.

      Like

  6. I had to smile when I saw your photo of the wisteria, as I was just taking a break from writing to see who had recently published a post, and there you were!! They are beautiful and a post about France always holds my interest!!

    Liked by 1 person

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