Lagrasse is the queen of the Low-Corbières because of its importance and historical value. The medieval village is located in a pretty valley irrigated by the shady Orbieu river, full of fish. It is surrounded by hills of vivid slopes, covered with pine trees and beautiful Mediterranean vegetation.
In passing, the sloped vineyards produce a wine of excellent quality, very sought after in the shops.
A few words on the history of Lagrasse
The history of Lagrasse merges with that of the abbey until the Revolution. In the 8th century, Nimphridius retreated to this valley with some companions and founded a monastery. Charlemagne created a charter in 778, which is now in the Carcassonne archives. This charter is, in fact, the origin of the Abbey of Lagrasse, which will later become one of the largest in France.
The buildings of the monastery are in relatively good condition and form an immense ensemble dominated by an impressive keep. During the Revolution, the abbey was sold as national asset. Later, the city turned to crafts and commerce (drapery) and became an important market of the Low-Corbières. Today the village is still developing its arts and crafts, with its many small shops.
Tourist highlights of Lagrasse, a medieval village
- The medieval city and its beautiful architectural entity.
- The narrow streets that lead to a beautiful square of listed houses: the Maison Maynard, The Maison Lautier. Also of note the former convent of the sisters of Nevers, and the Maison Sibra.
- The Old Bridge (1303) remodelled in the seventeenth and nineteenth century.
- The gothic style St Michael’s church.
- The Benedictine abbey Saint Marie d’Orbieu cited above (see cultural reference).
- The Heritage House.
- The Market Place, from 1315, a real jewel of medieval architecture
- The remains of the fortifications including the Tour de Plaisance or Grand Tourreil, and the “Porte de l’Eau”, the only exit on the south side of the village.
Lagrasse, a haven of nature and culture
For summer visitors, we recommend the beautiful botanical trail and a few kilometres away a lovely bathing spot, so welcome during the hot weather. Very nice walks too, from the village of Lagrasse to Notre Dame du Carla.
Finally, for the last 10 years or so, Lagrasse has been awarded the national label “The Most Beautiful Villages of France” and hosts a cultural event of national importance, in spring, summer and autumn: Le Banquet du Livre.