lagrasse – a beautiful village

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Lagrasse, a village and home to about 600 people, isn’t far from Carcassonne. It’s rated one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (the most beautiful villages of France).

So my better half & I decided to make a trip to Lagrasse. It was a cold, but beautiful day beginning of February with a dazzling blue sky and a dazzlingly bright sun.

There is the medieval village Lagrasse and there is the Abbey Sainte-Marie de Lagrasse. Both form some sort of unity, although there is the river L’Orbieu winding its way between them. (So there are some bridges to cross on foot like small aged bridges made of stones.)

We started our walk at the abbey.

The abbey dates back to Charlemagne (about 779) who is regarded as the founder. During the centuries the Benedictine abbey flourished – until the French Revolution when the abbey was nationalized and divided into 2 separate sites. Today one of the sites is inhabited by nuns, while the other part is used as an administration facility of the départment Aude.

Unfortunately the public site was still closed in February – so we only got a glimpse of the inner courtyard & the garden.

The monastery i. e. part of it was open & we visited … a small part of it. There are lots of intricate ornaments which survived ongoing time. We learnt that the abbey became rich during the medieval period and later.

The abbots & the monks were able to develop exquisite tastes in art & embellished their daily life. From the former dormitory for all they retreated in private bedrooms and created private chapels w/ mural paintings.

Finally we crossed the river & got a last overview of the abbey which illustrates its generous layout.

The village – in whatever size & layout – was there from the beginning – and it also flourished during the Middle Ages. All houses seem to have survived from this period. Many of them are now officially classified as cultural treasures.

The alleyways are very narrow – of course cars are banished. (Only inhabitants may enter Lagrasse by car.) In the centre of Lagrasse there is the market place with the market hall & the church, a rather monumental building hidden between houses and small passages for pedestrians.

There was some fortification around Lagrasse, but nowadays there are only some relics like the defense tower Tour Plaisance.

Finally we found a sunny place in a café & had some noisette.

If you wonder why there aren’t any people milling around in the abbey or the village – quite easy – it was beginning of February & at this time of the year there are no tourists (except my better half & me and some more lost souls …) – so we could walk undisturbed by anyone taking photos at any occasion & angle. I’m sure it’ll change soon when spring/summer are coming.

There are many picturesque corners in Lagrasse. Especially when there is this blue sky & the bright sunshine … the medieval heritage looks genuine & lovely. (If it’s clouded & rainy I think it’ll be somewhat depressive … decrepit …)

The abbey & the village are lovely regarding their unique style & presentation. I’m also sure that in spring/summer lots of flower boxes & window boxes will appear with colorful blossoms enriching the beauty. So … rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France is deserved.

Also we enjoyed the quietness of the whole scene – which may also vanish as soon as any busses arrive … (The parking areas outside Lagrasse – almost empty when we visited Lagrasse – are ready for the invasion!)

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