City of Art and History, between the river Tarn and the vineyards
Moissac, city of art and history...
The city of Moissac developed at the foot of the vineyards of Quercy, around the abbey Saint-Pierre. Its favorable situation on the banks of the Tarn, a few kilometersaway from the confluence with the river Garonne, makes the city an ideal place for the movement of goods and men.
In 2012 Moissac obtained the French label "Ville d'art et d'histoire" (city of art and history).
A gallo-roman site
Thanks to the latest archeological researchs, Moissac is rediscovering its ancient past. No city but several villae, those Roman large farms taking advantage of the fertile plain of the Tarn and of the clay-lime soils of the hills to grow and export wine and other agricultural products. The gallo-romans baths of Saint-Martin, of which the hypocaust (a Roman floor heating system) is exceptionally preserved, bear witness of this activity. Though the land is occupied since the Antiquity, a town appeared only during the medieval times thanks to the significant cultural, political and economic influence of the Abbey Saint-Pierre.
A port city
During the 18th century the trade in flour, produced in Moissac and sold to the Caribbean, makes the fortune of the town's merchants. Flour mills, Baroque church, private mansions built along the Tarn bear witness to this prosperity. In the ancient port district, the elegant façades, of which some have preserved their original woodwork, hide spacious courtyards and warehouses, nowadays transformed into pleasure gardens.
The "canal des Deux Mers"
Though the canal du Midi, linking the Mediterranean to Toulouse,is inaugurated in 1681, it took nearly two more centuries to see its extension up to Castets-en-Dorthe, in Gironde (one of the departments of France, named after the river). The construction of this canal de Garonne necessitated digging through the town, the destruction of houses, the moving of the cemetery and the building of engineering structures… The Saint-Jacques bridge is the last example of a swing bridge preserved on the canal de Garonne. Another most remarkable work is the Pont-Canal du Cacor. With its 356 meters long, it's the 3rd longest "pont canal" in France, allowing the Canal de Garonne to span the Tarn.
Moissac as a "grape resort"
Since the middle of the 19th century, widely benefitting from the railway's construction, cutting through the medieval abbey, Moissac turns to the production of Chasselas. The entire economy and society lived then at the rhythm of this golden white eating grape. Real architectural jewel of the 30's, the lodge of the "Uvarium" is the last testimony of a great project to create a "grape resort" (station uvale in French, from the latin word uvus which means "grape"), entirely designed around cures and consumption of Chasselas grapes.
The Art deco districts
In March 1930, some murderous floods destroyed entire districts of Moissac. Thanks to the global solidarity, to subscriptions and to the numerous donations from anonymous people, the town was rebuilt and new districts emerged in the architectural style of the 30's. Those functional houses, with cut-side façades, geometrical decorations and openings, pyramidal pediments or stylized flower friezes are nowadays a remarkable Art Deco heritage to be explored.