For badge holders only

Most of us have been there at some point:  you’re visiting a place and you come across something that looks really interesting.  You have lots of questions, but there’s nobody to answer them. Mobile internet has made things a lot easier – smartphones allow us to call up information so easily, yet the information is only as good as the search terms we enter.  You really want someone who can tell you all about it – a real person, A GUIDE!!

More and more towns in the Languedoc area now offer guided visits.  I recently went on a guided visit of the historic centre of Montpellier – I booked it via the tourist office in Montpellier. A good number of different themed visits are organised by the tourist office there – this link should take you to the full list of visits on offer.  I went on the “Centre Historique” visit, which started outside the tourist office on Place de la Comedie.

After handing a badge to each participant of the guided tour, our guide, Xavier Laurent, gave us an overview of the history of Montpellier.  I’m going to give you a very brief summary:  the city has no Roman past, it was founded around the 10th century by the Guilhelm dynasty.  In the Middle Ages, the settlement expanded and prospered and became a centre for trade across the Mediterranean.  Montpellier became famous for its University, especially the law and medicine faculties, and the city was a stopping place on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.  For more information, have a look at the Wikipedia entry for Montpellier.

Montpellier continued to prosper and grow – it later became the administrative seat of the Herault departement and the Languedoc Region, and today it is in 7th or 8th position in the ranking of France’s largest cities. The university culture, started in medieval times, is still thriving today!

Xavier walked with us to Rue de la Monnaie, where he showed us bronze markers which were set in the pavement, and told us why they were there.

Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela usually wore a scallop shell on a string around their necks.  It was a symbol that was used along the pilgrimage routes – scallop shells would be affixed to buildings and doors, to denote shelter and welcome.  The real shells could be used by the pilgrims to scoop food and water, a bit like a spoon.  In Montpellier, the markers in the pavement denote the routes the pilgrims would have taken across the city.

From Rue de la Monnaie we went on to Rue de l’Aiguillerie and to the Hotel de Griffy.  The notables of Montpellier built their mansions in the centre of the town – many of them still exist but it’s unusual to be able to peek behind the doors!  Our guide had the keys to the enormous gates of the Hotel de Griffy, so we could have a look!!

In case you are wondering why I am only showing you some windows and not the whole facade, in the historic centre of Montpellier, most buildings are five times as high as the streets are wide, so it’s very difficult to get pictures of an entire house!

The Hotel de Griffy was divided into separate apartments at some point during its more recent history.  We were not able to visit the interior of the house, but we could see the courtyard and the staircase!

The four facades around the courtyard were identical, but above each of the central windows of the first floor was a different mask, sculpted in stone and representing the four seasons.  Lots of faces to watch all the comings and goings – if only they could tell us what they have seen…

The other windows were decorated with sculpted ornaments of various kinds, some of them probably heraldic.

The staircase took up one entire side of the courtyard – it was monumental!  The finely wrought iron balustrade dates from 1790, when the whole mansion was given a makeover.

From the Hotel de Griffy, our guide took us to the Montpellier equivalent of the Champs Elysees: the Rue Foch.

We were headed for the triumphal arch at the western end of Rue Foch, but first we admired the facade of the prefecture building.  The prefecture is the administrative headquarters of the Herault department.

A little detour around the back brought us to rue de la Canourge and this extraordinary street corner!!

This shell-shaped corner had been built in the days when the streets were frequented by horse and cart.  It  allowed the carts to turn the sharp corner without scraping the walls in the process!  On the wall of the building opposite are traces of tracery. 🙂

Join me next week for a view of Montpellier from the top of the triumphal arch and for a visit to the medieval mikve, and find out why the Place de la Comedie is called l’oeuf (the egg)!

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Open day at Chateau Milhau

Just a little over a year ago, I wrote about my visit to the Chateau de Seriege near Cruzy (read that post here).  This year, the tourist office of the Communaute de Communes Canal-Lirou Saint Chinianais organised another visit, connected to last year’s visit by a common theme:  Gustave Fayet.

Gustave Fayet was a rich art collector and artist, business man and patron of arts.  He had inherited great wealth from his parents, which he put to good use.

Our visit was to Chateau Milhau, near Puisserguier.  This estate had been passed to Gustave Fayet in 1893 by his father on the occasion of Gustave’s marriage to Madeleine d’Andoque de Seriege.  He moved to Milhau with his new wife, and immediately made a start on improving the vineyards and embellishing the buildings.  When his father died in 1899 Gustave and Madeleine moved to another of their newly inherited estates, and gave up living at Milhau.  After the death of Gustave Fayet in 1928, his son Leon Fayet sold the estate at Milhau.  The Maison de Maitre was abandoned in the 1970s and fell into total ruin.  In 2008 Norman and Diana Tutt, a couple from Britain, fell in love with the buildings.   Since then they have carried out a restoration project, using original materials wherever possible.  Our visit of the buildings was guided by Norman Tutt, who met us in the garden just outside the house.

We admired the facade with its terracotta decorations, sculpted by Louis Paul, an artist friend of Gustave Fayet.

A frieze of grape-and-vine-leaf relief tiles runs along the roof line.

The porch underneath the tower connected the courtyard behind the house with the garden in front.  On the wall was another terracotta relief, and below this relief would have been the front door into the Fayets’ private accommodation.

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We entered the house by a door from the courtyard, and ascended to the first floor.  When the Tutts had started restoration works, the building was a total ruin, with rotten floors and leaking roofs.  They did uncover a few traces of the former habitants: here and there, patches of old wallpaper had escaped the ravages of time and could be preserved, either in situ or as part of a collage:

Some of the wallpapers were made by the French firm Zuber, which is still producing high quality wallpapers today.  I was totally charmed by some of the details of the restoration, such as these porcelain light switches, produced by Fontini.

We continued to what is today Norman and Diana Tutt’s library:

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The French doors overlook the garden, and open onto a little balcony.  At one time a grand double staircase would have led down to the garden from where the balcony is today.  The spiral staircase in the left hand corner leads up to what had been Gustave Fayet’s atelier.  Before his time, that part of the tower had housed a clock mechanism.  Gustave Fayet had larger windows installed, and used the room to paint.

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Here is a picture which Gabriel Fayet, Gustave’s father, painted of Chateau Milhau – you can see the clock still in place, as well as the grand staircase leading from the first floor down to the garden.P1140916

 

Gustave Fayet painted these watercolours, which were later used as motifs for carpets:

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The views from the house are spectacular.  On a clear day one can see as far as the sea!  This is Domaine La Bouscade, the closest neighbour:

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The spiral staircase is very similar to the one in the dining room at Cafe de la Paix in St Chinian.

I ended my visit with a little walk.  Here are some views of the garden:

The chapel was built by Gustave and Madeleine Fayet:

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The enormous wine cellars were enlarged by Gustave Fayet’s father in 1875:

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If you are interested in finding out more about Gustave Fayet, there’s a very good book, which is available from the tourist office in Capestang, entitled “Gustave Fayet, chateaux, vignobles et mecenat en Languedoc”.  The book is also available on the Midihideaways Bookshop (Amazon) under the heading “Books by Local Authors”.

You can also visit the Musee Fayet in Beziers, a former residence of Gustave Fayet and his family, as well as the Abbaye de Fontfroide near Narbonne, which still belongs to Gustave Fayet’s descendants.  I’ll visit both with/for you before too long!

Postcards from another time

Over the years I have accumulated a small stash of old postcards, showing Saint-Chinian as it once was.  A little while ago I decided it would be fun to try and show you some now and then pictures, so one day, not long ago, I set off with my camera.  The photographers of most of the original images would have had quite a lot of equipment to carry with them.  The camera would have been a large and heavy box on a tripod, with bellows attached to the front, and the negatives would have been on glass plates – you can still see cameras like that in some museums.  I am very thankful that things have evolved 🙂  I am able to carry my camera without giving myself a hernia, and taking pictures is definitely easier these days! In the early 20th century, postcards were commonly used to send short messages or greetings, much as we use our mobile phones today to send SMS. This first postcard is of Avenue de Cessenon – today called Avenue Raoul Bayou: avenue de cessenon.fw  avenue de cessenon reverse.fw The postcard was sent as a New Year’s card on January 2, 1916 to a Mr Dispens, and it appears to have been sent in an envelope, because of the missing postmark and address.  I’ve not been able to decipher all of the handwriting, but it could have been a wife writing to her husband at the front. It talks about little Michel, who has grown and talks so well, and looks so much like the addressee.  There’s also a bit about “if you don’t have enough to do you could come and paint a few cars”, and it signs off with “we cordially shake your hand”.  Perhaps some of that was coded language? Or perhaps it was not the wife at all but a friend writing to his buddy?  In all likelihood, Mr Dispens was probably a soldier at the time, either in barracks nearby, or fighting somewhere.  Avenue Raoul Bayou has changed over the intervening years, but the houses are pretty much the same as they were then: avenue de cessenon todayThe card below with the view of the river was sent on July 23, 1908 from a son to his father.  The father was staying in Lourdes, and the son was glad that the father had visited Pau on his way to a town whose name I cannot decipher, nor find on google maps.  The son tells his father that the wagon de pierre (I am assuming a cart to transport stones with) would be delivered on Thursday, and he mentions that he is behaving himself very well. vue de la rivere.fw vue de la rivere reverse.fw With the way the access to the riverbank has changed, it has been impossible for me to get the same viewpoint as the photographer in the early 1900’s.  The land where he would have set up his camera has become inaccessible, and trees have grown up in the riverbed, obscuring much of the view, but I had a go at it all the same! vue de la riviere today   The postcard below showing the Mairie, was written by a girl called Evelyne, who was in the first class at school.  She tells Michel and Mme Dispens that everyone is well and that Ponponne and ratonne are having a fun time. la mairie.fw la mairie reverse.fw The trees in the Mairie gardens have grown, the roofs over the towers have been changed, and there are no more horses in the street, but otherwise the view hasn’t changed all that much. la mairie today The postcard below of Grand Rue was written on March 8, 1916 – that’s almost 99 years ago!! The handwriting on the back of this card is a little tricky to read, but I have found that the writer hopes that the war would be over soon and that they would see each other in good health.  So this is possibly another postcard sent to a soldier somewhere. grand rue.fw grand rue reverse.fw Although Grand Rue has undergone a great deal of change during the past 100 years, the buildings are all still there.  The building of the Hotel Bouttes houses today Le Vernazobre restaurant and bar, and the pharmacy.  The building which once housed Au Bon Marche has undergone a fair amount of transformation.  Gone are the ornate cornices above the doors, and the shutters have all disappeared along with the wrought iron railings.  Today the building houses Credit Agricole bank, and the three windows just before Le Vernazobre have become a private house. grand rue today I’ve enjoyed trying to re-create the views!  Since there are more postcards in my stash I will call this a work in progress!  Do let me know if you find any old postcards of St Chinian!  And don’t forget, today’s postcards will be tomorrow’s heirlooms…

Travel back in time

Here’s where we left off last week, just outside the church of Saint Eulalie in Cruzy!

P1040677The guided visit inside was already underway, and when I joined the guide was explaining that the church had been built and added to over the centuries.  He explained that the difference in the stone work in the wall on the north side of the nave was due to the fact that the church roof had been raised at one time or another – the stone blocks are of a different colour and size.  Originally the church would have had no side chapels, and the roof would have been a good deal lower than it is today.  During the period called the “Wars of Religion” (1562-1598), Cruzy changed sides several times and was frequently besieged by the opposite side.  The church became a veritable fortress, either during that period or immediately before.  I haven’t seen many churches with machicolations and crenelated battlements – have you?  But that’s precisely what can be found in Cruzy.

P1040686There are machicolations on all the bays, where stones or other things could be dropped down from. The side chapels, of which you can see the windows above, were added much later, as the machicolations wouldn’t really make sense, one wouldn’t drop stones on one’s roof?  Our guide also dispelled the myth about boiling oil or water being poured from up high.  The only access to the roof was via a narrow stone staircase, and you wouldn’t want to have to carry boiling oil up that, or light a fire on the roof to heat it. So by the end of the Wars of Religion the outside of the church had been fortified as much as possible.  The inside would have had a different aspect to what it looks like today, with the nave being unbroken by the side chapels.  It would have been a very impressive space, 21 metres wide and 23 metres high (it might be higher, I didn’t write that measurement down, sorry!).

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One interesting fact about this church is that there is no wood used in its construction – absolutely everything, including the roof structure and covering is made of stone!  Either side of the apse are chapels.  The one on the right is done out with a baroque altar, full of gold leaf and carved detail.  The one on the left was re-done in the 19th century, in what the people of the time thought more in tune with the style of the church – lots of Carrara marble and some gothic ornaments, but to my mind very cold and not all that pretty.

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For the heritage weekend, some of the old vestments had been put on display.  I’m always fascinated by the embroidery.  It must have taken weeks if not months to stitch that beautiful ornament!

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One of the side chapels on the south side of the nave is dedicated to St Roch, the saint who is supposed to protect against the plague.  He always shows a bit of leg and is always accompanied by a dog!

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The chapel on the north side has a nice font made of marble from the quarries in Caunes Minervois.  The high altar is made with three types of marble: red from Caunes Minervois, white from Carrara, and grey/blue from Saint Pons (sorry, no picture of that altar, but if you look closely at the one of the apse further up you might just be able to make out the different colours?).

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Our guide next showed us the old sacristy, a room on the north side of the apse, which is no longer in use.  The lock on the door into the old sacristy was made of wood!  The escutcheon plate on the outside belonged to an older lock, which no longer existed.

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Here are a few more little details of the interior:

Our guide next took us round the outside of the church, to explain a few interesting details.  The west wall, closing off the nave, is not really attached to the church, and there are stones sticking out of the nave walls, as if the builders had intended to continue the building.

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The tower on the north side is almost entirely solid up to where the roof of the church starts.  Until to that point the only space inside is for the spiral staircase.  There are a few arrow-slits on the way up for light and defense but that’s it.  Farther up you have space where the bells live, and where the church clock ticks away.

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The main door into the church had probably been at the west end of the church originally, but was moved at a later date.  The door is ancient and the stonework around it very delicate.

The church of Saint Eulalie also holds a few mysteries!  There are two rooms on top of the old sacristy, which are not accessible from anywhere!  They were only discovered during repairs to the roof.  What were they used for and how?  And there is small tower, octagonal at the base and round on top, which appears buried in the masonry – what purpose did that serve?  In time (and given some money to carry out work) the local historians may get to the bottom of those mysteries…

A short walk brought our group to the entrance to the museum, and that’s where the next part of our guided visit started.  To give you an idea of the village, below is an aerial view of modern-day Cruzy (found at http://www.mappy.com).  I’ve drawn a (wobbly) line around the ancient core of the village, which would have been fortified by a thick and sturdy wall.

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First our guide showed us an ancient mediaeval part of the village.  Through a low archway, down a slope, we ended up in a blind alleyway.  This would have been the only access to several houses built against the defensive ramparts, which had no windows on, or access from (of course) the outside wall.  The tiny walled up window would have been one of the original windows. These houses would have been very dark indeed!  Have a look at the map above, you’ll find several of those alleyways still in existence!

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We then walked across Place Roger Salengro, past some beautiful mullioned windows…

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…and down Rue de la Place, past what was once the house of a noble family, dating from the 16th and 17th century.  Unfortunately, you can tell that it has seen better days!

Once we reached the Allee du Portanel, our guide showed us where the ramparts had been re-used.  Openings had been cut into thick stone walls, and on the side of the building you can still see the thickness of the defensive wall!

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Next to that building is what remains of a communal staircase, which would have served several buildings.   Unfortunately a big van was parked in front of it, so I could only get a shot of the window.

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The next picture shows an interesting building.  In olden days ownership of houses was not quite as clear-cut as today, so people might own a room in next door’s building.  The facade gives you a good idea of the complicated ownership on this building!

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We continued our walk, with lots of more interesting snippets of information along the way.  The buildings on the side of the road opposite to the ramparts are mostly 18th century, built when the village started to grow outside the ramparts.  I loved the decorations on this particular facade.  And the swallow’s nest is supposed to bring good luck!

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Back towards the church and past another beautiful Renaissance facade.

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And just two last little pictures, before we finish for today.  I’m sure that gargoyle is smiling at us!!

Beziers – Musee Bitterois

Beziers has several interesting museums, and I recently visited the Musee du Bitterois in an attempt to entertain my 15-year-old nephew, who came to visit during his school holidays.  I’m not sure how successful the entertaining part was (YOU try and get some kind of feedback from a 15-year-old teen!! :-)), but I was certainly impressed by the museum.  It is situated in part of the old barracks in the St Jacques neighbourhood of the old town, and the building itself is impressive, even more so on the inside.  It’s all very spacious and well-lit, arranged around what was an open courtyard at one point, and which is now partly roofed over.

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The exhibition is in chronological order, and starts with prehistoric finds.  I was particularly impressed by this beautiful menhir and the prehistoric burial urns on display.  I get confused as to what belongs to which period – so if you really want to know you’ll have to visit.

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The most ancient artifacts were juxtaposed with modern art – an interesting concept!

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The museum has a particularly rich collection of Roman artifacts – commonplace objects such as oil lamps,

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but also this exquisite carving, which I think is ivory.  It’s tiny and except for the missing head it’s perfect.

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Another astounding find was a whole collection of stone heads of the imperial family, which turned up when a house in central Beziers was remodelled in the 19th century.  They were all  hidden in the same location and in beautiful condition!  Don’t ask me the names, I only remember Agrippa and Julie…

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Then there were these enormous stone blocks with an inscription which I’ve not yet been able to decipher, despite using google translations.  Something to do with hot mother’s  milk making you happy, and male heirs, but most likely I have that totally wrong, Latin was never a strong subject for me :-).  I couldn’t find a description for that particular exhibit, otherwise I could have told you what the inscription really meant.  But this way we can just make it up as we go along.

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And then there was this rather racy sounding inscription, but I think it’s something to do with six at home (??), and of course most of it is missing, so who knows??

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After all that Roman stuff the exhibition got to the medieval period, which meant a fair amount of religious art, and there was a fine statue of a headless St Aphrodise.  Finally we arrived at more modern times, and there was a charming reconstruction of an Auberge along the Canal du Midi, along with the workshop of a last potter of Beziers.

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The revolt of the wine growers was well documented, and the portrait of Ernest Ferroul caught my eye.  He seems to have been very active in the movement, but was also a very shrewd politician and changed allegiances frequently – sounds familiar?

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The Station Uvale looks very much like an art deco ornament.  By the looks of it everything do with grapes was being sold there.

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And here is yet another door knocker, this one made by a Mr Cordier towards the end of the 19th century, and pretty monumental in size!!

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Beziers’ industries were many, and this poster for Blayac brandy is particularly colourful.  I’ve not been able to turn up any information about the factory or the brand, but the name Blayac is still very common in Beziers.

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And here’s another representation of the famous camel (see the post about the occitan carnival) .  It’s somewhat smaller than the camel which is taken out for the processions, but it has a very jolly face!

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And finally, the old boat in the sunken exhibition space of the museum, along with the display cases of local fauna and flora.  Fancy a little cruise?

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The St Jacques neighbourhood surrounding the museum is pretty interesting too, full of old buildings and quirky details.

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One of the more interesting things to see is the site of the old Roman arena, which was completely built over after the fall of the Roman empire.  At some point during the past 20 years, the municipality decided to consolidate the remaining walls and create a small park open to the public.

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The museum has a hand-cranked model of the site, to give you an idea of what there was/is.

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The views from the edge of St Jacques neighbourhood are fantastic – you get a great view of the cathedral, and the surrounding plains.  It must have been a very strategic spot in olden times…

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And there you have it, an exploration of another small part of Beziers, full of history and interesting nooks and crannies.  Thanks for joining me!

Saints and Camels

I wrote in a previous post that Beziers had a camel (or more accurately a dromedary) as its totem animal.  So, how did the camel arrive in Beziers?  Apparently with Saint Aphrodise, Beziers’ first bishop. The legend has it that Aphrodise was from Heliopolis and met the holy family on their flight to Egypt.  He converted to Christianity after the crucifixion of Christ and decided to spread the gospel in Roman Gaul. His mode of transport?  Not Ryanair, but the camel, perhaps the Ryanair of its time?

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He settled in Beziers, where he was eventually condemned to death by the governor for his overzealous proselytising.  After he was beheaded his head was thrown in a nearby well.  But, miracle of miracles, it didn’t sink and the water rose right to the brim of the well, bearing the head.  Now, you have to stretch your imagination a little more:  St Aphrodise reached in and picked up his head, and walked back to the cave where he withdrew from the world.  Along the way locals put snails in his path (why??) which he did walk over but did not crush.  Along the way a group of stonemasons were making fun of him, but god punished them and turned them into stone.  The camel was adopted by a potter.

I can just imagine you thinking “where is he going with all that?”  Well, in Beziers there is a church dedicated to St Aphrodise, and for years I’ve been trying to visit it.  Each time it was locked up and I could not find out when it might be open.  Then I came across the programme for the Fete de St Aphrodise, which advertised guided visits of the church and the crypt.  The cave which St Aphrodise withdrew to is now the crypt of the church, allegedly.

I got there for 12.30, just in time for the last visit.  From the outside the church is only partially visible, most of its perimeter has been built up, and the only access is currently via the small square on the south side.  What is visible is impressive – a large square bell tower looms over the square and the stone walls are incredible.  Up some steps to get to the entrance.  We were ushered into a chapel to the left of the door, where we waited for our guide.  The chapel had been beautifully restored, and I got the feeling that the visit would be interesting.  Our guide introduced himself as having worked for the archaeological department of the town of Beziers until his retirement, so he was familiar with several aspects of the church.  He explained that there are two parts to the present building – the Romanesque nave and the 14th century choir and apse.  The chapel we were standing in was in the base of the 14th century tower, and during work on the stairs it was discovered that there was a room below the chapel.  Indications showed that this room had been used for black masses – the priest at the time was not happy with that discovery!  We went past that staircase and into the choir by a small door.  Only a little light filtered through the stained glass windows of the apse, there was no light and our guide had only a small torch.

The first impression was wow – a huge space, which had a totally abandoned feel.  And it turned out that was exactly what had happened.  As the population of the centre of Beziers dwindled, the congregation of St Aphrodise slowly declined to the point where the parish was no longer viable, and the church shut up.  The church buildings belong to the French state, and of course there is very little money to maintain the thousands of churches, cathedrals and chapels all over France.  An association was formed, the Friends of St Aphrodise, with the aim of protecting the cultural heritage of that church.  And there is a lot which needs protecting.  The interior of the church was remodelled at some point in the 18th century, with a beautiful baldachin added over the main altar.  At that time someone decided that it would be a good idea to unify the appearance of the Romanesque nave and the gothic choir by adding a vaulted ceiling in the nave.  Unfortunately the Romanesque walls of the nave had not been designed to carry that kind of weight and over the centuries they have been shifting outwards ever so slightly, to the point where it became too dangerous to enter that part of the building.  In the 1920’s someone had the idea to repaint the interior of the church – at that point a lot of the original 14th century paintings were still intact.  It seems that what was there was scraped off and plastered over, not much left to uncover, unfortunately.  So what our guide showed us was essentially the choir and apse – beautifully panelled walls with choir stalls along the walls.  Apparently one bishop sold them to Abbey of Cassan near Beziers, and another one bought them back one hundred and fifty years later.  Behind the main altar is a chapel which houses a strange display case.  All kinds of bone and other things in an enormous reliquary.  On the walls either side are marble plaques, detailing the treasures which the church owned.  Makes fascinating reading, but I would imagine that most of it has disappeared.

The painting in the chapel has disappeared, leaving a gaping hole and the view of the original 14th century walls behind.  Then we went into the sacristy – and that’s where it really felt like the Marie Celeste.  All sorts of paraphernalia were stacked up and standing about, including lots of paintings, all of them in dire need of restoration.  Our guide then allowed us a glimpse of the nave, and explained that the end had been excavated and found to contain a large number of gallo-roman sarcophagi.  In fact the whole area around the church was a vast necropolis.

Then it was time to go down to the crypt.  A wooden ceiling was protecting the visitors from the possibility of falling stones, and the access was down a small staircase.  Again, there was no light, only our guide’s torch to show us what there was.

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Our guide suspected that the crypt had been extensively reworked over the centuries.  There were brick walls visible through small windows but they could not have been put up from within the crypt.  Then there were the stone slabs which formed the ceiling, which had all been tombstones – an early form of recycling!  On some of them the inscriptions were still quite visible.  As we went round the crypt there was a rather gruesome representation of St Aphrodise’s head, and then it was up the steps and out towards the entrance.  The stained glass window was beautiful (most of the stained glass in the church is 19th century) and the restored part gave a good idea of what the church could look like once fully restored.

This visit was the very last one to the church in its present state – what a lucky coincidence.  Work is due to start later in the year to consolidate the building and make it safe.  Then the real work of restoration will have to begin, and so will the fundraising!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this historic visit!!