of natural surroundings not very far from Montpellier
An hour from Montpellier, with its airport and its TGV train station, in unspoilt countryside, with a dominant view stretching to the sea and the horizon. The climate is Mediterranean.
In the 19th century, the property became a vine-growing and farming estate which meant converting the outbuildings and using them for different purposes. The church, for instance, was used as a wine storehouse, whilst the south wing and the first floor of the property were transformed into living space.
Founded in 1126, it is the best preserved and the most complete of this monastic order, its unpretentious architecture totally in keeping with the monks’ ideas of soberness. The buildings are constructed from sandstone, quarried on site, and covered with roof tiles. They are laid out around an early 13th century, square cloister, with small twinned columns alternating with rectangular piers, supporting the springing of the geminated, semi-circular arches. Three of the galleries are covered with cross-ribbed vaults.
On the north side, a late 12th century church replaced the primitive chapel. It comprises a single, noticeably triangular, barrel-vaulted nave, with a semi-circular apse featuring corbelling, illuminated via three tall windows. Its acoustics are outstanding. A separate chapel was added against the north wall in 1335.
On the west side, the guest reception hall, dating from the 13th century, is gothic with crossed ribbed vaults.
The vaulted chapterhouse and storeroom, on the east side, have not been separated by a load-bearing wall since the 19th century and, therefore, form a single room.
On the south side are the kitchen and the old refectory as well as a wide, 19th century stairway, going upstairs.
The first floor, spanning a total surface area of 310 m², was transformed into living space in the 19th century. It is in need of restoration and conversion works. Most of the vaults are still in existence. The seven main rooms, often vaulted and with fireplaces, are laid out on three sides. The floors are old. The cloister terraces can be reached from this level and, on the south side, two French windows open on to a 42 m² terrace with a view of the esplanade of chestnut trees and the parklands.
Separated from the west facade of the priory by a large triangular courtyard, the two main outbuildings with long, two-storey facades were once used for farming activities and for keeping sheep. Constructed from stone, partially rendered and topped with a tile roof, they are joined together in a V-shape.
In the first building, spanning more than 300 m², the ground floor, once a sheepfold, is used as a function room with a restaurant and a kitchen, whilst other rooms are unused. On the first floor are two flats used for living accommodation, one of which spans approx. 80 m² and comprises a living room, a kitchen, two bedrooms and a shower room. It is currently occupied by caretakers. The second, spanning a little more than 50 m², comprises a living room with a kitchen area and two bedrooms.
In the second building, spanning approx. 730 m² and communicating with the restaurant room, the ground floor is notably given over to an office, a reception area and a meeting room. Upstairs, the conversion of hotel bedrooms over a surface area of 313 m² has scarcely begun. A 60 m² flat at the end awaits rehabilitation.
On the entrance side, a last building, spanning approx. 120 m² over two levels, has workshops on the ground floor and a former flat upstairs.
Although the property has always been well maintained, works are required in order to make good use of these buildings which span a total of 1,170 m².
Landscaped parklands, dolmens, megaliths and a lake
32 enclosed hectares of land surround the buildings and extend southwards. Featuring some very old trees, they are home to deer. Two intact dolmens, dating from Neolithic times, are listed as are a group of ritual megaliths and Visigoth sarcophagi, also hewn from stone.
Facing the east wing of the priory, a completely unexpected, harmonious, spring-fed lake spans approx. 8,000 m². It has an islet which can be reached via a bridge.
Near to the south facade is an old fishpond, used for rearing carp during the monastic era.
A 20-year, simple management plan was drawn up for approx. 330 hectares of forests, woods and scrublands in 1997. The area has a good network of trails and pathways. The main species are pubescent and evergreen oak, Austrian, Corsican, umbrella and maritime pine as well as Atlas cedar trees.
Scrublands account for approx. 50 hectares.
Land for cultivation
Some of the 60 hectares of farmland, spread throughout the estate, was planted not so very long ago with vines, the area currently having “Terrasses du Larzac” appellation. The lower sections of the property would also be well-suited to the growing of olive trees.
Interest in the area is based on stone with dolmens and megaliths bearing witness to occupation since Neolithic times. Furthermore, there is no reason to deny our distant ancestors’ good aesthetic taste: the site is stunningly beautiful. The view extends as far as the sea and the horizon on the frothy relief. Five centuries of monastic presence have resulted in a group of religious and farm buildings, reflecting soberness, power and a sort of truth, all of which impresses and excites. The nave of the church exudes a type of perfection. This just goes to show the enormous, notably tourist, potential that exists within these listed buildings as well as on this immense estate. The growing of vines could be re-established, that of olive trees started whilst exploitation of the forest would provide a promising income. The vast lake, fed by a spring, in these Mediterranean surroundings, is an additional asset.
|Land registry surface area||394 ha 13 a 64 ca|
|Main building surface area||1084 m2|
|Outbuilding surface area||1171 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||10|
Regis Senseby +33 1 42 84 80 85
NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.