This town lies in the bottom of a basin; some of the high hills, especially those on the east, showing savage escarpments with towering masses of yellow or reddish rock at the summits. The climate of the valley is delightful in winter, but sultry and enervating in summer. It is so protected from the winds that the mulberry flourishes there, and countless almond-trees rise above the vines on the burning hillsides.
Millau presents a good deal of interest to the archaeologist. Very noteworthy is the ancient market-place, where the first and upper stories project far over the paving and are supported by a colonnade. Some of the columns, with elaborately carved Romanesque capitals, date from the twelfth century, and look ready to fall into fragments. At one end of the square is an immense modern crucifix—a sure sign that the civic authorities do not yet share the views of the municipal councillors of Paris in regard to religious emblems. Protestants, however, are numerous at Millau as well as at St. Affrique, both towns having been important centres of Calvinism at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes; and after the forced emigration many of the inhabitants must have strongly sympathized with their persecuted neighbours, the Camisards. Nevertheless, the department of the Aveyron, taken in its entirety, is now one of the most fervently Catholic in France.
The church is Romanesque, with a marked Byzantine tendency. It has an elegant apse, decorated in good taste; but the edifice having received various patchings and decorations at the time of the Renaissance, the uniformity of style has been spoilt. The most striking architectural feature of the town is a high Gothic belfry of octagonal form, with a massive square tower for its base.
In the Middle Ages the government of this town was vested in six consuls, who received twenty gold florins a year as salary, and also a new robe of red and black cloth with a hood. In 1341 they furnished forty men-at-arms for the war against the English, but the place was given up to Chandos in 1362. The rising of 1369 delivered the burghers again from the British power, but for twenty-two years they were continually fighting with the English companies.
The evening before I left Millau I strolled into the little square where the great crucifix stands. I found it densely crowded. Three or four hundred men were there, each wearing a blouse and carrying a sickle with a bit of osier laid upon the sharp edge of the blade along its whole length, and firmly tied. All these harvesters were waiting to be hired for the following week. They belonged to a class much less numerous in France than in England—the agricultural labourers who have no direct interest in the soil that they help to cultivate and the crops that they help to gather in. I have often met them on the dusty roads, frequently walking with bare feet, carrying the implements of their husbandry and