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“The birthplace of Champaigne” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Abbaye de Saint Hilaire

Abbaye de Saint Hilaire
Certificate of Excellence
Level Contributor
16 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“The birthplace of Champaigne”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 October 2013

1531, first ever sparkling wine is documented being made here in St. Hilaire!
The abbaye itself is a huge church which have recently being restored. It's a tranquil and serene place to ponder upon life..

Visited September 2013
Thank Morten_Flagstad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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94 reviews from our community

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English first
Level Contributor
110 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“A charming village clustered round a really fine abbey”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 October 2013

Some historic attractions in France are owned by the state or by the department and they often suffer from the dead hand of French bureaucracy.

The abbey complex of Saint-Hilaire is the property of the commune and the locals are rightly proud of it. The member of staff we talked to was passionate about his work, answered all our questions extensively and spoke good English.

The cloisters are less magnificent than those of Fontfroide, but the delicate pairs of decorated columns with crisply carved capitals were really more to my taste.

The abbey church is not that remarkable, but the 12th century tomb of Saint-Sernin is. The intricate and lively carving by the "Master of Cabestany" tells the story of the saint's life. Spend some time trying to work out what is actually going on.

In the abbot's lodging there is a magnificent 16th century painted ceiling to the dining room. Look closely and one or two of the pictures on the beams will surprise! What is the naked lady doing in the boat (or is it a bath) and what is the man (or is it a monk) doing to her?

Our visit to the village of Saint-Hilaire was relaxed and really enjoyable. While in the abbey take in the cellars and then visit the winery where the pre-cursor of champagne is still made.

Visited October 2013
Thank Minackman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
134 reviews
53 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
“Well-interpreted, strong staff”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 September 2013

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Abbaye. The staff is most knowledgeable and gives tips on what to look for on the self-guided visit. The ceiling paintings in the bishop's quarters are beautifully displayed, as is the altar illustrating the martyrdom of the saint. The cloisters are properly atmospheric and visitors help each other by pointing out the most interesting or curious sights. It is also a lovely drive out to the monastery from the Carcassonne area.

Visited September 2013
1 Thank Virginiatravelerstwo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
109 reviews
54 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 109 helpful votes
“A pleasant mid point in our walk”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 June 2013

We undertook a short walk from Preixan to Saint Hilaire which was fraught with difficulty in it's self owing to the lack of bridges across the River Aude and the lack of a path along the D118 so we had to walk through vineyards and along a rather scary track alongside the river that had us thinking of Southern Comfort and Deliverance, especially when we passed an old shack with loads of junk cars barrels etc.

Having arrived At St Hilaire at 17:00 we found the Abbey was open until 18:00 so we had a visit, there's not loads to see but for €4 it was money well spent.

The Abbey is still being 'done up' but this did not spoil the visit. There's a nice cloister, a church, monks refectory, Bishops painted room and cellars.

Apparently this was were sparkling wine was discovered owing to an error by the monks in forgetting about some barrels of wine which fermented and produced gas. This per dates champagne. The tour also enables you to taste a small glass of wine in the local shop, it was so nice we brought a bottle, it's called Blanquette.

We also purchased a passport which gives you money off other sites in the area including all the Cather castles and its valid for a year so that will be left in the holiday home for the next visitor.

Visited June 2013
Thank TheAdmiralLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Abbaye H, Responsable relations publiques at Abbaye de Saint Hilaire, responded to this review, 16 January 2016

Thanks for your comment. Since your last coming, the renovation works are obvisouly over and the result is really good ! Hope you'll enjoy that someday if you are around. With best regards, F.M.
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