TO SEE | VILLAGE
Lagrasse is the most beautiful village in the Aude department in the South of France. When meeting this queen of Basses-Corbières, you will wonder where all the tourists are. You will see a few, but nothing like Carcassonne for example. This means you have the perfect opportunity to calmly meander through the picturesque village, with its medieval streets and houses.
Village with a history
I visited Lagrasse with our offspring on a warm, sunny day in August. They weren’t too happy about it. Moaning and groaning, they wanted to swim in the pool rather than strolling around some ancient village. And ancient it is. In the 8th century, the Archbishop of Narbonne, Nymphidius, founded a monastery in the valley where the rivers l’Orbieu and l’Alsou meet. The village itself was created between the 11th and 13th centuries.
Beautifully covered market
As with most beautiful villages in France that are worth a visit, signs direct you to a parking lot just outside the village. The village itself is surprisingly well indicated, there is even a route you can follow to see all the highlights. Soon enough we arrived at the Place de la Halle with its beautifully covered market, dating from 1315. Until the First World War, this square played an important economic role as a commercial centre. Along with the pretty houses from the 14th-16th centuries, you will feel like you are plunging back in time.
The old bridge, built in 1303 and remodelled in the 17th and 19th centuries, finally brought us to the river l’Orbieu. We had to test to see if this was a good swimming spot. After walking around quite a bit, the kids were so happy to swim! We were almost alone, which made the dip even more magical. In the end, our cheeky monkeys didn’t want to come out of the water.
Finally, I managed to get everyone on the shore, and we continued our stroll. As we walked around Lagrasse, we passed the impressive Sainte-Marie l’Orbie Abbey, known as one of the most prestigious in France. Today, it hosts a library and a café, and you can visit a part of it. A bit further on we crossed the river again, by a dam this time. And that is where everybody was! Entire families were having a blast in the cool water of the Orbieu. On the other side of the dam, I spotted an otter. I think it was trying to cool down as well…
Art and culture
Although the long history of Lagrasse has known bad times, it has always struggled back up. Agriculture, arts, crafts and the renowned weaving and cloth preparation made it a prosperous village. Even nowadays you can find many artists and potteries dotted around. Along with many cultural and literary events like ‘Le Banquet du Livre’. Lagrasse truly is a village of art and culture!