Gala dinner at the Abbaye de Valmagne
on August 2nd from 8 to 11:30 pm
In 1139 Raymond Trencavel, Viscount of Beziers founded the Abbey of Valmagne in the Parish of Villeveyrac, near the port of Meze on the "Bassin de Thau". From the XII th. to the XIII th. Century, Valmagne was one of the richest abbeys in South of France.
Originally Valmagne was founded under the Benedictine order but, in 1159, the monks joined the Cistercian movement.
The early days of the abbey constituted a period of great prestige, wealth and expansion, but then Valmagne suffered from the effect of the Hundred Years Wars, and later of the Religious Wars. The attack of the Hugenots in 1575, organised by Valmagne's own abbot, gone into the Reformation, was a real disaster. Badly damaged, all the stained glass of the roses and clerestories were forever broken, and the abbey needed the next two centuries to recover some of its original splendour.
At the Revolution in 1789, the last five monks fled just ahead of rebellious peasants who invaded and ransacked the abbey, burning precious documents, funiture and works of art. Confiscated as a national property, the abbey was sold in 1791 to Mr Granier - Joyeuse who turned the church into a wine cellar, with the addition of big wooden vats in the nave and absidal chapels, preventing this magnificent edifice from becoming a stone quarry, like so many other abbeys.
The 29 th. of July 1838, following the death of Mr. Granier, the abbey and its dependencies were sold, this time, to the Earl of Turenne, and still remains in the possession of his descendants.
The actual church in classical Gothic style was begun in 1257 on the foundations of the original Romanesque chapel, which had become too small for the ever-increasing number of monks. Inspired from the great cathedrals of the North of France; it has 83 meters long and 24 meters high.
The cloisters have the exquisite charm of Tuscany gardens with its elegant and magnificent fountain that brings water from the spring of Diane.
Open to the public since 1975, Valmagne is well known to all archaeologists and lovers of old monuments. The restoration of the abbey is permanent, new bells have installed in the steeple in 2000. The owners have won many prices in recognition for the work done to restore the Abbey.