Each year on the third weekend of September, France – like many other European countries – celebrates the “Journées du patrimoine” (“Heritage Days”).
It is an opportunity to visit sites that are not usualy open to the public like the “Elysée” palace where the president’s office is located and the “Palais Bourbon” that houses the “l’Assemblée nationale”, the French parliament, in Paris, the offices of the mayors in the big cities of France, privately owned castles and remarkable gardens, important archive collections etc.
The “Journées du patrimoine” are very popular and to get the most of them one has to get up early and expect, in many places, to wait in a long line his or her turn to visit.
I went to two events that took place on the weekend of the “Heritage Days”: the medieval festival of Belleperche Abbey and the Moissac Saint Pierre Abbey , entrance free for this special event. My choice was dictated not only by my passion for the medieval history but also by the proximity of these two sites, both located in the Tarn-et-Garonne department of the southwest France, and the fact that in Moissac and around the abbey there was also the festival of the “Chesselas grapes”, the white, sweet, table grapes that are the pride of Moissac!
Belleperche Abbey is an ancient Cistercian monastery founded in the 12th century, rebuilt in the 18th century but closed at the French revolution. It now houses the museum of the “Table’s Arts”. Each year since 2003 in September it hosts a Medieval Festival that tries to bring to life the atmosphere of the epoch when the abbey was still a living religious establishment.
The Moissac’s Saint Pierre Abbey is a more grandiose structure, listed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage. Its cloister is a remarkable monument of mixed Romanesque and Gothic art, one of the most notable of France. But the most outstanding monument, a masterpiece of the Romanesque art is its tympanum of the south portal, depicting Jesus Christ surrounded by 24 different elders.
Hi, I am Carla. I am living and working in the beautiful city of Toulouse, France.
I like history, travel and... the southwest of France and try to share through this blog information about events that might be of interest to the travelers to this part of the world!