The story of Anglars Saint Félix
Anglars Saint Felix is composed of two villages, Anglars and St Felix, and a number of scattered hamlets. With 592 inhabitants at the last census, it is one of the most populated villages of the Rignacois area. Although Its economy is mainly agricultural, based on livestock farming, its location makes it attractive to people who work in the larger towns of Rodez, Villefranche and Decazeville, but want to live a relaxed rural environment. This influx has created a more diverse and outward-looking population, with numerous organisations bringing residents together and invigorating village life.
But the older, rural heritage has not been neglected. The local council has begun a project of restoration of traditional features of village life – such as the cross, the wash-house, the bread oven, the pumps – where villagers shared communal activities. Most of these lie along a walking trail (which can be found in the Topoguide ‘Au Pays Rignac-Montbazens’). The footpath, which criss-crosses the commune, is attractive to hikers, offering a peaceful walk through a variety of landscapes.
The two village churches have also been restored. The one in Anglars is of particular cultural significance. Dating from the 13th century, it has a remarkable and valuable altarpiece, a central holy water font and baptismal fonts which are officially listed as Historic Monuments.
Two parallel histories
The origins of St Félix go back to about the year 1200. In the 1940s, the Abbé Garrie deciphered a collection of ancient documents and produced a fascinating history of the village, from which these extracts are taken.
In the 13th century, two monks from nearby Bonnecombe abbey took possession of this little parish lost in the woods, surrounded by chestnut trees, ferns and heather. The monks transformed the fallow ground into highly productive farmland, and it became the centre of the abbey’s possessions. A great granary (La Grange de St Felix, also known as the chateau) was built, to manage the estate and store tithes. A ‘fermier’ – not a farmer, but a kind of steward – looked after the interests of the abbey, collecting the tithes and farm rents.
For centuries, St Felix was also an important place because of the Molède Bridge, a crossing which linked a number of major routes – to Rignac bridge, La Pradelle castle, Roussennac and St Félix itself.
In 1365, during the Hundred Years War – much of which took place in southwestern France, because of the English possessions in Guyenne – St Felix fought back against an envoy of the English armies, who was wounded, and the chateau was apparently not besieged.
(taken from an article in the brochure ‘Saint Félix en France – Au pays des traditions occitanes’, 1993.)
Translation: Sarah Donovan