Cordes-sur-Ciel (Occitan: Còrdas d'Albigés) is a commune of the Tarn département, in France.

The fortified town was built in 1222 by the Count of Toulouse, a Cathar heretic, and is now a popular tourist spot. Until recently the town's name was Cordes, a word thought to come from the Indo-European root "corte" meaning "rocky heights."


In 1222, Cordes received its charter to become a "bastide" (fortified town) from the Count of Toulouse. It was built between 1222 and 1229 to protect the scattered population of the area from conflict. It was made to replace the village of Saint-Marcel, which was burnt down by the troops of Simon de Montfort in 1215, during the Northern Baron's crusade against the Albigensians.

In the 1229 Treaty of Paris Raymond VII of Toulouse conceded defeat to Louis IX of France. In 1241, Jeanne, the Count of Toulouse, married Alphonse II the brother of Louis IX and the Count of Poitiers. As a result, Cordes became a part of France in 1370 without ever having been militarily conquered. In 1436 Rodrigo de Villandrando pillaged Cordes as part of the Hundred Years' War.

The citizens of Cordes, having built their homes within the original 13th century ramparts, later escaped heavy damage during the religious wars at the end of the 16th century. As a result some excellent examples of 13th and 14th century gothic architecture have been preserved.

Modern History

Cordes was revived in the mid-20th century, by artists and other visitors who noticed the town's beauty. Albert Camus visited it in the 1950s and remarked that “In Cordes, everything is beautiful, even regret”.

In 1993 Cordes was renamed Cordes-sur-Ciel to reflect the town's site on a hill above the clouds that cover the valley below.


  • The city is known for its medium sized outdoor market.
  • Cordes is home to the Museum of the Art of Sugar and Chocolate. The museum contains hundreds of pieces of art made completely of sugar. Subjects as diverse as the Middle Ages, mythology, technology and nature are illustrated in the museum's art.

Famous Residents

See also

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