Discover the best kept secrets of Lagrasse! Between a thousand-year-old abbey and a medieval village, Lagrasse is a hidden gem of the Corbières, in the heart of the Aude. Here are the must-see places to visit.
Visit the Abbey of Lagrasse
Between Carcassonne and Narbonne, in a landscape of vineyards, hills and typical Corbières garrigue, Lagrasse is known the world over for its medieval abbey founded in 779 by Charlemagne. It is reached by crossing the Pont-Vieux, a stone bridge (13th century), which links the village to the abbey.
Built in the 8th century and modified several times during its history, the abbey of Sainte-Marie d'Orbieu has survived the centuries without too much damage. More than a thousand years later, the abbey remains one of the medieval jewels of the Languedoc. It is still inhabited by a community of canons. A guided tour allows you to discover the courtyard of the abbey palace, the abbot's residence and chapel, the monks' dormitory and the lapidary museum.
Open: every day (except Thursdays) from 9 April to 12 November and during the February holidays. Free admission. More info: https://abbayedelagrasse.aude.fr
PRACTICE: to get to the centre of the village and then visit the abbey, you can leave your car in one of the car parks (for a fee) located at the entrance. The visit is then done on foot, along a pleasant walk.
A stroll through the heart of the village
Known as one of the "Most Beautiful Villages in France", and the only one in the Aude, Lagrasse welcomes nearly 200,000 visitors each year. The village itself has several interesting buildings. In the heart of the village, the market hall dates from the 14th century and bears witness to a flourishing past. The wealthy people of the viscounty built large and beautiful houses here.
A few steps away, the Gothic-style church of Saint-Michel, which you discover almost by chance at the end of an alleyway, is also worth a look. It contains beautiful pieces of furniture from the abbey of Sainte-Marie.
If you have a little time to spare, we advise you to visit the Maison du patrimoine, located in the former presbytery and now the tourist office. Here you can discover an art form that was very common in Lagrasse at the end of the Renaissance: painted ceilings. The exhibition (free of charge) offers a fascinating incursion into the intimacy of medieval interiors from the 13th to the 16th century, with some very secular sketches.
GOOD INFO: The Lagrasse market is held every Saturday morning, from 8am to 1pm, in the heart of the medieval village, on the Place de la Halle and Place de la Bouquerie.
DID YOU KNOW? In summer, it is possible to swim in the river Orbieu in Lagrasse, at the foot of the abbey! Go to the Saint-Jean lake, upstream from the footbridge that leads from the village to Lagrasse Abbey. Swimming is supervised in season.
Do you have a hike to recommend?
Can you find the legendary footprint of Charlemagne's buttocks? The name "Charlemagne's buttocks" comes from a legend which tells that his horse swerved, which threw the emperor of the Franks onto the hill and he fell on his backside. It is also the name of a short hike, easy to do with the family, which allows you to get a good view of the village of Lagrasse and its listed abbey. Count on 1h30 to 2h of walk, departure from the Pont neuf.
Photo credit: CC0 Public Domain