Red marble and Romanesque art
Park your car on the esplanade before the bridge and you can leave the busy tourist sites behind you. Immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere in the heart of this southern village where the accent sings and the fountains play the music.
Here, time stands still as you admire the red marble sculptures (artistic evidence from the famous quarries). They are positioned along the Argent Double river, next to a children's playground.
Cross the bridge, for another picture perfect view, in the beautiful square, shaded by huge 200 year old plane trees, recognised as 'Arbre remarquable', or remarkable trees.
It's just a five minute walk through the narrow, medieval streets to reach the abbey. As you stroll, maybe you'll notice a mullioned window or a carved wood lintel...
Visit the abbey for...
- Its Romanesque chevet: a masterpiece, the lower part dating from the 11th century, with red ochre between its columns, and the upper part, from 1060, with its wide openings. It is the oldest example in Languedoc.
- Its cloister, its sober Maurist style of the 17th century hides many surprises. You access the lower part, the first gallery from the medieval period, with a calade floor (cobblestones), which was built at the end of the 12th century.
- Its marble everywhere: in the church, a blue-grey marble in the flooring, red marble from Caunes in the side chapel and Carrare marble in the three sculptures.
- In the church, a crypt under the choir reveals the remains of the primitive church, founded in 790
- And…its comic strip exhibition! Each summer the abbey and the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée, stage a comic strip exhibition of remarkable quality, such as the one dedicated to Spirou in 2018. You can discover all the different faces of comic strips, with something for young and old!
Enjoy a new experience and discover a 360° view of the abbey with VR... It's a ten minute travel through time, where you can discover the monument's big stories and small details. Guided commentary, new points of view and unusual or secret places in the abbey make this an exclusive experience. It's original and informative, rich in emotion and discovery!
€5 per person supplement. For your comfort, the experience is limited to six people at the same time We recommend you book in advance.
A short history of the Abbey
The abbey is dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, and was founded in 780 by the monk Anian. From 982, the presence of relics of the Caunes saints (Armand, Luce, Alexandre et Audalde) was mentioned, and the abbey quickly became a place for processions where people came to make offerings and celebrate the martyrs.
During the Albigensian crusade, the abbey's wealth grew considerably as it confiscated property from heretics.
In around 1610, Abbot Jean d’Alibert brought in Italian sculptors to exploit the marble quarries. He had the logis abbatial, or abbot's dwelling, built, as well as a mansion with remarkable architecture in the centre of the village.
When the abbey joined the congregation of Saint-Maur in 1659, strict observation of monastery rules, which had been lax, was once more a requirement. The restoration of the abbey was begun, new monastery buildings were created and the abbey floor was raised by half a floor.
Amoureux des pierres ! A faire ! Très belle abbaye, chargée d’histoire. Les vestiges du VIIIe siècles sont très intéressants. L’expo de BD dans plusieurs salles est une très bonne idée et permet de dynamiser l’endroit. Par contre, faites la visite avec la guide, c’est vraiment mieux surtout pour l’histoire du lieu.
- To visit the Abbey, enter via the main gate to the right of the church, a wooden gate opening onto the village, place de l’église. The ticket office and shop are on the right.
- Guided tours for groups in July and August at 11:00am, 3:00pm and 4:30pm.
- Information sheets available in various languages.
- Entry fee linked to the écomusée du marbre.
- Explorer's booklet for children.
Open all year round except 24/25/26 30/31 December and January
Children from 6 to 16 years old, students, jobseekers, disabled: €2.50
How to get there
GPS co-ordinates: Abbey welcome point, Place de l'église, 11160 Caunes Minervois
lat. 43° 19' 34" - long. 2° 31' 36"
By Bus: line A
By car: Via D11 and D15, D620. Take the Carcassonne Est exit from the motorway.