The attractive village of Lagrasse is one of 158 of the Most Beautiful Villages of France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France). It is located in the Corbières Hills, in a valley of the river Orbieu.
The surrounding hills are covered in pines and other Mediterranean plants, with vineyards dotted around the hillsides. Lagrasse is not big, but it has much to offer visitors in ambiance and medieval heritage.
The history of the village is closely linked to that of the Romanesque Benedictine Abbey of St. Mary of Lagrasse. Permission to build the abbey was given by Charlemagne in 778. It became one of the most important and richest abbeys in France.
The covered market hall and the stone Old Bridge date were constructed in the 14th century. The Water Gate is part of the medieval ramparts. The ruins of the 11th century Priory of Saint-Michel de Nahuze can be seen on the hills above the village.
Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois to Lagrasse takes about 45 minutes by car (24 miles, 38 km). A visit is recommended, not just because of the vilage’s unique heritage but also because of the very specific light that has attracted artists from across France.
For more information and events, visit vivonslagrasse.org. Keep an eye out for the pottery fair in August. A visit can easily be combined with nearby Fontfroide Abbey or Carcassonne.
Lagrasse is not that far from Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois and therefore ideal for a short visit. But if you are looking to make a full day of it, you could combine it with the Cathar citadel at Carcassonne or the charming town of Narbonne with its indoor food market (mornings only).
Alternatively, you could visit Minerve on the way home. This village, set in a spectacular gorge, is very closely associated with the Cathars. It is well worth seeing and visit usually doesn’t take more than an hour or so.