Lacoste

 

Contrary to what happened with the other villages, written documents have nothing to say about Lacoste, or are lacking information about the origins of its community.

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 View of Lacoste from the plateau of Germane - JPEG - 16.8 kb
View of Lacoste from the plateau of Germane
Crédit OT du Clermontais

More has been written about the hill of Cornils situated at just over a mile to the south of the village and occupied right from the 6th century of our era through to the 11th century. No less than 3 religious communities existed there in succession during the course of the 12th century, in 1138, in 1154 and in 1190.

The church of Saint Jean Baptiste

Like for the village, there is very little information about the church dedicated to Saint Jean Baptiste. Up until the last quarter of the 12th century it is the chapel of the ’castrum’. The church, that could be dated from around the end of the 12th century – beginning of the 14th century, shows a rectangular plan made up of three bays, the first forming a choir (chancel) with a straight headrest. Its entire interior length is about 69 feet, the width of the nave measures just over 21 feet and is north facing. Entry into the church is through an arched door, completely pushed over to the south-west angle, without a projection. The angle is decorated by a simple ledge between two cavets (quarter circle shapes) ; there is no central part, but as a concession to simplicity, there is an archivolt.

The village and the ramparts

The village was fortified. Still apparent are the vestiges of the two round-angled towers in volcanic stone, parts of a surrounding wall and a gate to the south with the remains of two projections that could have been part of a parapet. The outer wall of the medieval city was grafted on to one part of the oriental wall of the chapel of the Virgin: traces of wrenching are still visible..

The chapel of Belbèzè (cross of Lacoste)

At several feet to the south of the church of Saint Jean Baptiste, almost on the border of the basaltic table onto which the village extends, is the raised-up chapel of Belbèzè from where there is a wonderful panoramic view over the Hérault plain. The most surprising part of it, and the most imposing, is the monumental Calvary that sits on the top of the façade. It is turned towards the east, this orientation being symbolic. The cross of just over 36 feet high holds a cast-iron Christ of almost 16 and a half feet which spans almost 14 and a half feet and weighs 2.4 tons. Abandoned and vandalized for years from the end of the war in 1939 up to 1993, the chapel had been donated by the Auge-Bruandet family to the Association Coustouline of the chapel of Bèlbèze, created in 1994. Little by little, the Association saved the building from danger and restored it completely. It was finally inaugurated in 2007.

The priory of Cornils

The road from Mas Audran to Lacoste and the old railway track both run along the foot of the mountain, the summit of which has had successively an oppidum, a Gallo-Roman post and three religious establishments. In our day, only the ruined remains of the Priory of Sainte Marie de Cornils are still visible. In 1138, Pierre de Raimond, Bishop of Lodève, established a community of 13 regular canons at Cornils. He gave them the mountain with the church of Sainte Marie. This establishment did not last longer than 15 years.

A Cistercian priory : in 1190, Raymond Guilhem of Montpellier, Bishop of Lodève, gave the church of the Cornils to the Cistercian Abbess of Nonenque (in the Aveyron). The sisters of Nonenque became nuns of the priory. The bishop reserved his rights : the priory being directly under his orders, the abbess owed him faith and veneration, the nuns were thus under his protection, he gave them the veil and benediction. The priest presented to him by the abbess was made a chaplain. A secular farmer worked the land. The church choir dates from the second half of the 14th century. In the nuns’ dormitory from the end of the 14th century to the beginning of the 15th century, the windows opened to the east. From the 16th century on, the edifice was destroyed by the religious wars. Doubts persist as to whether the nuns were still in Cornils in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. Did they leave the priory during the 16th century? Their history is still to be discovered.

Extracts taken from notes of Paul Taurand, left by his father, Maurice Taurand.

To see

  • The church
  • The village square and its panoramic view over the valley of the Herault
  • The centre of the fortified village
  • The chapel of Belbèzè

A circuit for hiking and mountain biking from Lacoste will take you to the plateau of Germane where there is a wonderful view over the lake Salagou and its dam. The circuit will take you to the lake before returning to Lacoste, via the hamlet of the Bories, where you can visit the wine domains.

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Pictures

The church of Lacoste built in basalt - JPEG - 126.3 kb
The church of Lacoste built in basalt

Crédit OT du Clermontais

Lacoste in the spring - JPEG - 152.2 kb
Lacoste in the spring

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The chapel of Bélvézé and its monumental Christ - JPEG - 89.4 kb
The chapel of Bélvézé and its monumental Christ

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Ramparts of the ancient tower - JPEG - 99.1 kb
Ramparts of the ancient tower

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View of Lacoste from the plateau of Germane - JPEG - 110 kb
View of Lacoste from the plateau of Germane

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The monastery of Cornils - JPEG - 190.7 kb
The monastery of Cornils

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Old sign post - JPEG - 65.4 kb
Old sign post

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