Surrounded by ramparts, the medieval town of La Charité-sur-Loire, standing by the Loire river, is famous for its Clunisian priory. Founded in 1059, this Benedictine monastery, part of the Order of Cluny, is a remarkable example of Burgundian Romanesque art, along with its church, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Way of St. James.
Many relics still remain from its past as a major monastic town: discover the Priory Church of Notre-Dame, a gem of Clunisian architecture from the 11th and 12th centuries, the Sainte-Croix bell tower, the convent buildings - chapter house, 18th-century cloister, monks' cellar, prior's lodge - as well as the Benedictines' garden, where the ruins of the old Church of Saint-Laurent are preserved.
Around the priory, enjoy a walk to admire the attractions of the historical quarter, such as the picturesque side streets, passages and flights of steps, medieval ramparts, and various shops devoted to the world of books. Bookshops, book dealers, calligraphers, illuminators and binders make La Charité-sur-Loire a real book town... An ideal destination for lovers of reading and collectors of old publications!
A number of book-related events take place every year in the town, including the festival of words in June, the old book and document fair in July, book night in August, and a book market on the third Sunday of each month between October and March.
A few kilometres east of La Charité-sur-Loire lies the verdant Bertranges Forest, a vast oak wood that's ideal for walking and relaxation...
Situated along the Loire, 2 hours from Paris by car or train, La Charité-sur-Loire is a medieval city on the UNESCO World Heritage since 1998. Step on the major roads to Saint Jacques de Compostela, it continues to attract the pilgrims. Its history begins in 1059.
The bishop of Auxerre, Hugh of Champallement, donated his land at a place called "Seyr" (along the Loire) to Hugh of Semur, Abbot of Cluny which to build a monastery.
100 monks of Cluny came to build this new marvel of Burgundian Romanesque art! The Notre Dame Church is at the time, the second largest church in Christendom after Cluny! The closure of the monastery including the Notre-Dame, Saint-Laurent church, monastic buildings, courtyards and the garden of the Benedictines reflect the magnitude of this foundation of Cluny. 200 monks will then stay in the buildings. Many pilgrims pass benefit of "the charity of good fathers," theological virtue which gave its name to the city.
Waypoint forced on the Loire, the monastery was enriched. His influence spans 45 priories and 400 outbuildings in France and in Europe from England to Portugal, from Venice to Constantinople... On March 9, 1107, the church was consecrated by Pope Paschal II. In 1164, the prior Rodolphe de Sully builds a belt of ramparts to protect the town that grew around the monastery. In 1429, Joan of Arc tries to take the city on behalf of King Charles VII. In vain. The Hundred Years War and the Wars of Religion, will gradually weaken the monastic city, but ultimately a huge fire which will precipitate his ruin.
Much of the monastery and 200 homes were destroyed. The city was rebuilt, but the decline of the monastery began and lasted 400 years. In 1789, there are only 12 monks. The city wedged between the Loire and walls can grow as the population continues to increase. In 1790, the Constituent Assembly seized the church property. The municipality is authorized to sell pieces of the priory residents to make their homes. The priory, which occupies one-fifth of the surface of the city is as encysted fossilized... It disappears gradually in the city to become invisible.
In 1840, Prosper Mérimée, inspector of historic monuments, save the magnificent tympanum of the great priory dating from the original construction and that was found in the wall of a room for rent. It classifies the church "historical monument". But it was in 1974 that the architect Jean-Pierre rediscovers the priory Duthoit...
1974-2008: the hidden treasures reappear openly: JP Duthoit convince the municipality to restore the monastery by buying the original parts of buildings to their owners, piece by piece. The city becomes the owner of 9 / 10e its surface.
Since 2001, major restoration work has led to cleverly highlight the remains of the Saint-Laurent church, the garden of the Benedictines, graves of the tenth century... The Gothic halls, after 3 years of stabilization and meticulous renovation regained their original volume. The east wing of the priory and the halls of the eighteenth century (North Wing) were also completed.
Charity is now a charming small city, located in a beautiful setting between Loire and forest wild Bertranges second oak from France. Its heritage attracts fans of all France. It is also a city with intense cultural activity. Listed town of Book 8 years (there are 6 in France), visitors come from all over Europe for its ancient book fair, markets its monthly books and the mad summer lasts 3 months!
The Notre-Dame, a jewel of Romanesque church surprises with its vast proportions and magnificence: 122 meters long, 72 meters high bell tower. Romanesque portal of origin and four secondary gates opened in the 12th century the nave and four aisles of the church. The current gate was rebuilt in the 16th century.
The magnificent Gothic halls host exhibitions of national scope.
See also: the historic streets, passing the gatehouse, the Cellier des moines, the garden of the Benedictines, the walls, the stone bridge (XVI) in "donkey", etc..
The Bertranges forest reserve is a splendid large animals. Covering an area of 10,000 hectares, it has a very diverse flora. The outdoor enthusiasts do not make mistakes. This is a paradise for walkers and cyclists. Tracks and circuits arranged.
A Charity, we are also in the Loire Valley, a protected nature reserve. Wild river, the Loire and defeated creates islands. On the occasion flood, side arms are born or close. Walking and hiking and canoeing are organized in the Natural Reserve of Val-de-Loire has a rich natural heritage for wildlife (270 species) and fauna (200 species). Beavers returned.
Also discover: the vineyard. Formerly operated by the Benedictine monks, it was prestigious. He had his place on the table of kings. It was destroyed by phylloxera in the late 19th century. For several years, winemakers have embarked on the task replanting typically Burgundian varietals 2: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Since then, the vineyard has gained notoriety and is named "The Coasts of Charity."