10 Remarkable Places Of Worship To Discover in Haut-Var and Provence Verte
The Haut-Var and Provence Verte are full of wonderful spots and cultural treasures. Only a one-hour drive from the Cote d’Azur, these natural landscapes are home to many sacred places of worship, which carry their own religious story. Whether you are a curious holidaymaker, a history lover, an architecture buff, or simply a traveller in search of spirituality, these remarkable places of worship will captivate you. Lou Calen has selected ten remarkable chapels, churches, monasteries and abbeys that are celebrated within these blessed lands.
1. The Notre-Dame de Graces Sanctuary in Cotignac
In Cotignac, the Notre-Dame de Grâces Sanctuary has been a place of Catholic devotion since the 16th century. According to tradition hearsay, the Virgin Mary appeared on 10th August 1519 on Mount Verdaille, with the child Jesus in her arms. The sanctuary then became famous thanks to an illustrious pilgrim, King Louis XIV, who came to give thanks for his birth, accompanied by his mother Anne of Austria. The church’s baroque architecture, frescoes and statues are celebrated by the faithful and hopeful pilgrims who have visited the spot over the centuries.
2. The Saint-Joseph du Bessillon Monastery in Cotignac
In 1660, Saint Joseph was said to have appeared on Mount Bessillon pointing out a water source to a thirsty shepherd, making Cotignac the only place in the world where the Holy Family has appeared in the same place. The Saint-Joseph du Bessillon Monastery was built on that site and its miraculous spring are now a destination for spiritual retreats. Nuns live a quiet contemplative life there now, in harmony with nature, which creates a soothing and calm atmosphere. Every day at 5pm, Vespers are sung by the nuns who inhabit the sanctuary.
3. The Saint-Pierre Church of Cotignac
The Saint-Pierre de Cotignac Church is another architectural gem. Dating from the 18th century, it is distinguished by its elegant neoclassical facade. Inside, you will discover richly decorated altars, frescoes and sculptures that exemplify the art and the piety of the time.
4. Notre-Dame de Bon Secours Chapel in Fox-Amphoux
Built in the 17th century by the Agoult family, who were lords of Fox-Amphoux, this troglodyte chapel is dedicated to Notre-Dame de Bon Secours, a version of the Virgin Mary. The chapel is located in the middle of the forest in a naturally-formed cave, while the walls are covered with numerous votives dedicated to the virgin.
5. Thoronet Abbey
Thoronet Abbey is a jewel of Cistercian architecture. Built in the 12th century, this abbey is a perfect example of the elegance and simplicity that usually characterise the Cistercian style. Its clean lines, majestic cloister, and simple chapel of timeless beauty make it an ideal place of contemplation and meditation. The church’s exceptional acoustics also make it a popular venue for classical music concerts.
6. La Celle Abbey
Founded in the 13th century, La Celle Abbey is a significant and celebrated spot in the region. As a Cistercian abbey it features elegant architecture beside tranquil gardens. Visitors can learn about the abbey’s monastic history and the surrounding area while strolling through the beautiful and serene setting.
7. The Chapel of the Templars in Bras
An architectural and historical treasure, the chapel of Bras is a longstanding example of the fascinating history of the Templars in the region. Built in the 12th century, its sober architecture and mystical atmosphere make it an essential place to visit for lovers of history and medieval enigmas.
8. The Basilica of Saint-Maximin la Sainte Baume
A centuries-old spot for pilgrimage, the Basilica Saint Mary Magdalene of Saint-Maximin la Sainte Baume is considered the 3rd Tomb of Christian significance. It is the largest Gothic architectural building in Provence and as well as its majestic style it has an impressive crypt which houses many treasures including the apparent relics of Saint Mary Magdalene.
9. The Cave of Saint Mary Magdalene in Plan d’Aups-la-Sainte-Baume
At the foot of the Sainte-Baume mountain, the Cave of Saint Mary Magdalene is an important place of pilgrimage. According to legend, Mary Magdalene lived her later life in this cave as a sort of recluse. Visitors can descend into the cave to discover the fascinating history of this religious figure so iconic to Christianity.
10. The Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir Chapel in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is home to the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir, a sacred spot perched on a hill overlooking the village. The chapel has an exceptional panoramic view while its interior is decorated with beautiful painted frescoes, which makes it an ideal place of pilgrimage, meditation, and a spectacular viewpoint for visitors.
On your next visit to the Var, take the time to explore these sacred places and enjoy their special atmosphere, to ensure that your stay in the region is both a cultural discovery and a spiritual experience.