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The Architecture of Languedoc

Come and discover, on the shores of the Mediterranean, the architecture that so typifies Languedoc.

From cathedral-builders to the most avant-garde of architects, Languedoc has a wide and varied range of religious and secular buildings. Both in the towns and the countryside, abbeys
and cathedrals stand alongside stylish town houses and châteaux.
Today, Ricardo Boffil, Jean Nouvel and Daniel Buren are re-thinking our towns.

Béziers, cathédrale - Hérault, le Languedoc © Photothèque Hérault Tourisme - E. Brendle

The traditions of the South

Saint Guilhem le Désert, Abbaye de Gellone © Jacques Debru

Set off to explore:
- Romanesque art, at the Abbey of Gellone in Saint Guilhem le Désert, Maguelone Cathedrale, the church at Saint Martin de Londres, or, if you’re in the Minervois area, Sainte Marie de Quarante.
- the Gothic-style Valmagne Abbey, amidst the vineyards, which retains one of the only remaining lavabos (a fountain where the monks washed their hands) in the South of France.
- Saint Felix de Montceau Abbey, built in the southern Gothic style and overlooking the sea.
- the fortified Gothic-style Saint Nazaire Cathedral in Béziers.

Private town houses

Hôtel d'Alphonse, Pézenas © Photothèque Hérault Tourisme - S. Lucchese

There are many of these in the centres of Languedoc’s towns:

- It is said that Molière performed
in the Hôtel Alfonce in Pézenas.
- Go and see the Hôtel de Manse in Montpellier and the many other grand houses in the historic city centre. There are buildings in the style favoured by Baron Haussmann
in Place de la Comédie.
- In Béziers too, wealth derived from wine-growing meant Haussmann-style mansions could be built.

Châteaux

Château de Flaugergues © Photothèque Hérault Tourisme - D. Cleroux

 

Not to be missed:
- Two châteaux close to Montpellier, known as ‘The Folies’: Flaugergues and La Mogère.
- The ‘Châteaux pinardiers’, or wine-growers’ chateaux, which bear witness to the wine-growing days of glory in the Béziers area. They come in all sorts of styles: manor houses, Loire valley-style châteaux, even Italian villas!

Rural Heritage

2089
Vignoble - Hérault, le Languedoc © J. Debru

-In the midst of the garrigue (Mediterranean scrubland) and the vineyards, you will come across ‘mazets’ (the Occitan name for a small brick or stone-built construction in the South of France) and ‘capitelles’
(dry stone huts) that serve as shelters for people and cattle.
-The ‘mas’ of Languedoc are farmhouses in the garrigues, with a sheepfold and threshing-floor,
or, near the Cévennes, a silk-worm breeding shed.
-In the plain, the villages consist of little streets of wine-growers’ houses, joined one to the next.
The cellar is on the ground floor and the accommodation on the first floor.
-The 20th-century concrete wine cooperatives have their name
and date of construction inscribed on the front wall.

Modern urban architecture

La Grande Motte - Hérault, le Languedoc © J. Debru

In 1970, the seaside resorts were modernised. At La Grande Motte, Jean Balladur built his multi-storey blocks in pyramids with sculpted walkways. Today the architectural and planning achievements at La Grande-Motte and Cap d’Agde have been recognised as remarkable and given the ‘20th-century Heritage Towns’ quality label.
Ricardo Boffil extended Montpellier towards the sea with his Antigone district. Jean Nouvel designed the town hall. Zaha Hadid was responsible for the Pierres Vives sports and culture centre, whilst François Fontès was the architect for the Agropolis Museum.
In Sérignan, La Cigalière, with its ‘sun-ray’ garden, is the work of Daniel Buren.

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