Sauveterre de Rouergue
Established in 1281 by Guillaume de Vienne and Macon, Seneschal of the King of France Philippe III Le Hardi, Sauveterre is a country house, one of these new towns of the 13th and 14th centuries.
The "bastide" of Sauveterre first intent was to establish a central "shopping centre". It would then attract population, but would also serve as a regional control base. The King, lord of the city, provided the means, this new country house would be "duty-free". The layout of this new village, is grid-organized, with a large central square, and hierarchical grouping.
Sauveterre, a walled town where architectural design is functional and efficient, helped promoting economic growth.
Sauveterre knew a prosperity era circa 1500. Evidence can be found when seeing the large and high townhouses, the mayor's one being one of them, along with the church of Saint Christopher's rich furniture. This prosperous period contrasts with the poverty experienced at the same time by the surrounding countryside of Ségala. Besides crafts for local products, Sauveterre manufactured "high value-added", sold off, which are the subject of an industry. Sauveterre cutlery, from the late 14th century, were partly sold at fairs in Lyon and Geneva, in Switzerland.
Nevertheless, its decline started in the mid 17th century; when traffic routes changed, or the plague epidemics (1628 - 1629) raged, to name a few.
Sauveterre will not find back this period of economic prosperity that had made the town one of the major key player in Ségala. Some political authority will be maintained though, through political struggle, 19th and 20th centuries. It then became local capital, but quite not back to its past splendor.
Nowadays, Sauveterre welcomes local craftsmen, whilst renewing its artisan brand.
Sauveterre de Rouergue holds the prestigious recognition "The Most Beautiful Villages of France".
Aveyron counts ten "Most Beautiful Villages of France" awarded villages, thus making Aveyron the only départment in France with so much heritage-filled recognition!
Here's a video of an artisan workshop Max Capdebarthes, based in Sauveterre-de-Rouergue who crafts some high-end leather-based artifacts.