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Sites of the Cathar Country

Abbey of Saint Hilaire

Cradle of the blanquette
The must-haves

15 min from the medieval city of Carcassonne, in the heart of the vineyards, this former Benedictine abbey placed under the protection of the Counts has gone through more than 10 centuries of History, from its good times to its darker ones, but also its share of surprises and innovations.

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In 1531, it was the scene of a curious chemical reaction that gave rise to the oldest sparkling wine in the world: the Blanquette de Limoux!

Echoing and illustrating the rich history of the Pays Cathare, the abbey is home to many heritage treasures, including:

  • the Gothic cloister,
  • the Romanesque church,
  • the abbot’s dwelling and its French ceiling from the XVth century,
  • the monks’ refectory and its reading pulpit from the XIVth century,
  • the cellars cut into the rock,
  • the walled part.

The Master of Cabestany

sarcophagus dedicated to Saint Saturnin

The Master of Cabestany was a master sculptor of the second half of the twelfth century, author of works remarkable for their style and workmanship, and located for the most part in the departments of Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales as well as in the north of Catalonia, but also in Tuscany and Navarre.

The Master signs here one of his most beautiful works: a reliquary sarcophagus in white Pyrenean marble.

This work traces the history of Saint Saturnin, 1st bishop of Toulouse in the 3rd century and, more precisely from right to left, his arrest, martyrdom and ensevelation.

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Guided tours

By appointment, a heritage agent will show you the details of this monument. Duration: about 1h30

Practical guide

You will be given a 3-part brochure when you enter the Abbey.

Services on the site

Parking nearby, dogs on leash accepted, bookstore / store, tourist information, toilets

Exhibitions

The monks’ refectory and the courtyard host exhibitions of local artists, renewed every month.

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The abbey house

The room houses a remarkable late fifteenth-century French painted ceiling. This ostentatious decoration emphasized the rank and power of the abbot to visitors.

Between the beams of the ceiling, spaces called closoirs, highlight different motifs: scenes from life, living figures, currents, or else scenes more “profane.”

Discover differently

Like the culture of Limoux, the abbey also opens its doors throughout the year to many exhibitions as well as to cultural and gastronomic events. A great way to discover and experience heritage from a different perspective!

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