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“Off the beaten path”
Review of Abbaye de Lagrasse

Abbaye de Lagrasse
Ranked #2 of 11 things to do in Lagrasse
Attraction details
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Level Contributor
85 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Off the beaten path”
Reviewed 9 May 2014

This 7th century Abbey provides the visitor with an excellent example of Romanesque architecture. We toured the church and gardens on the religious side of the abbey and then the lovely village near by. It is the perfect location to enjoy a slower pace of life.

Visited May 2014
1 Thank DoreenMB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 March 2014

Great town to spend a day trip, steeped in history. Excellent wineries nearby. The fireworks display on Bastille day is a highlight.

Visited June 2013
1 Thank Cocoman2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Springfield, Oregon
Level Contributor
188 reviews
88 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 145 helpful votes
“Abbey and beautiful parish church offer insight into medieval village life”
Reviewed 5 February 2014

I spotted the 7th century Romanesque Benedictine Abbey of St. Marie d'Orbieu and the beautiful sloping stone bridge of the Pont Vieux in the lovely little village of Lagrasse on our way back to Carcasonne from Spain a couple of days ago and just had to take a closer look.

The abbey, like many similar structures in southern France, has received many additions and rennovations over the centuries. During the 12th century it ruled over a large territory encompassing the dioceses of Toulouse and Béziers and the county of Urgell. But it began to decline after numerous wars tore apart its financial base as well as some of its exterior. The population of the village and abbey was devastated by the Black Death in 1348. Still, the monastic community persisted until the French Revolution when the abbey was divided into two lots and sold at auction as state property. Today, the historic part of the abbey is managed by the Departmental Council of Aude. However, a small community of monks continue to live and work in a private section of the property. Tourists are welcome in both parts although admission is charged separately for each.

Since it was getting late, we chose to explore only the historic remains of the medieval abbey. Probably the most impressive room is the huge monk's dormitory - about 500 sq. meters. It features arched stone supports with exposed timbers visible in between. This room is thought to have been built in the late 13th century. Other rooms of interest include Saint Barthelemy Chapel paved with enameled terracotta tiles dating from the 14th century in a geometric pattern and the ceremonial hall with a monumental stone fireplace added during the Renaissance.

We made our way back across the river to the village where the friendly tourist information agent urged us to explore and photograph the Church of Saint-Michel. The church was built between 1359 and 1398 and is one of the few examples of a single nave Gothic church. Inside we found beautiful 14th-18th century sculptures, paintings and stained glass windows many retrieved from the abbey. Each of its nine side chapels offered unique works. Like many churches in France one side chapel was dedicated to St. Joan of Arc. Another had twisted golden columns adorned with vine reliefs that reminded me very much of those supporting the Pope's baldachin in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

The church also houses the seven paintings of the "Seven Sacraments" attributed to Crespi (early 18th century) and two large paintings by Jacques Gamelin - "Moses striking the rock" and "Manna in the desert" (early 19th century). The church's high altar is thought to be from the 18th century. On our way out I spotted a beautiful cul-de-lamp depicting an angel. I have been trying to photograph as many of these architectural elements as I can on this trip. I wasn't sure what these carved supports were called until I read the LaGrasse brochure and looked up the term online. Now at least I know the proper terminology.

The rain let up just long enough for me to walk onto LaGrasse's modern bridge to photograph the original 13th century stone bridge over the River Orbieu on our way back to the car park.

Visited May 2013
3 Thank mharrsch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Malmesbury, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
272 reviews
120 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 128 helpful votes
“Interesting but not spectacular”
Reviewed 25 October 2013

We went in late October and whilst the village of Lagrasse was pretty much closed up for the season, having the government side of the Abbaye to ourselves was great. For 4euros its worth going to see but interesting rather than spectacular. It still impresses me how they built what they did back then. Probably would want to fight the crowds in high season.

Visited October 2013
1 Thank JonBunston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
55 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Abbaye de Lagrasse”
Reviewed 22 October 2013

Abbaye de St. Marie d'Orbieu

In the heart of the Cathar country, this beautiful abbey was founded by Charlemagne in 779. In the early Twelfth Century, the Abbey owned around 100 churches and property that stretched to Zaragoza in Spain and reached the height of its power under Abbot Auger de Gogenx who developed much of the mediaeval parts of the Abbey.

Today it is in the care of the Benedictine Chanoines Reguliers de la Mere de Dieu, who came to Lagrasse in 2004 with the aim of restoring the Abbey including the wonderful garden which contains plants from all over the world and many heritage varieties.

Visited October 2013
3 Thank Gail T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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