Cathedrals & Religious Attractions

Abbaye du Thoronet
This is the closest Cistercian Abbey to Correns and receives many visitors every year. Founded in 1146 by the Tourtour monks, the abbey is all stone and includes: a church, chapter house, dormitory and store room, and cloisters. What's quite interesting is that the church is built of hand-cut stone blocks that were then assembled by hand without the use of cement or mortar. It is located halfway between Draguignan and Brignoles, just below the Argens River, 13 km northeast of the A8 autoroute and the N7 highway.
Abbaye du Thoronet
tel: 04 94 60 43 90

Abbey of Sénanque
"A unique example of a twelfth century Cistercian abbey, still alive and still standing." The Abbey of Sénanque is located near the village of Gordes. It was founded in 1148 by Cistercian monks under the patronage of the bishop of Cavaillon, and Raymond Berenger II, Count of Provence. The monks who now live here make their livelihood by growing lavender and tending honey bees.
Abbey of Sénanque
F 84220 Gordes
tel : 00 33 4 90 72 05 72
fax : 00 33 4 90 72 05 45

Basilica in St. Maximin (the da Vince Code??)
This is really a very interesting visit. My wife and I recently made our first journey here and we were impressed. In the Basilica are four marble sarcophagi, dating from the 4th century. These are said to hold the remains of Mary Magdalene and four other saints, including St. Maximin. However, that's not main attraction. In the rear of the crypt you will see a golden statue wearing a darkish mask. Walk up to the statue and you'll see that the mask is actually the cranium of Mary Magdalene.

How did Mary Magdalene get to Provence? The story is that she, along with other "undesirable" early Christians, was cast out to sea in a small oar-less boat. This craft miraculously survived the journey from Israel and came ashore on the southern coast of France at the place now known as Les Ste Maries de la Mer. Her fellow exiles stayed to preach near the coast; however, according to the story, Mary Magdalene traveled inland, ending up near the village of St. Maximin. This story may seem familiar to you if you've read "The Da Vinci Code." The author, Dan Brown, has a major part of his story being the legend of Mary Magdalene - a legend that is very much alive today in southern France!

Mary Magdalene is not the only attaction. The 18th century organ is also magnificent.
St. Maximin

Cathédrale Notre-Dame-des-Doms, à Avignon
An excellent example of Provençal Romanesque art. Built in the 12th century, the cathedral was later remodelled with side chapels added between the 14th and the 17th centuries, baroque tribunes built in the nave and choir in 1670-1672, and a statue of the Virgin placed on the top of the spire in 1859. The furnishings of the choir include the famous episcopal throne of the Avignon popes and several paintings by Mignard. There is also a group of sculpted figures that is attributed to Puget and represents the Flagellation.
tel: 04 90 86 81 01

Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Major
This cathedral is one of the largest and most ambitious religious edifices built during the 19th century. The church combines Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic elements with the plan being a Latin cross. Of note is a row of statues representing Christ, the apostles Peter and Paul, and Lazarus and his companions, the legendary saints of Provence.

Built in the 12th century (1160-1220), this beautifully preserved cathedral is part of an Episcopal group including the Saint-Thyrse church, a baptisery and a cloister reserved for the Canons. It's the oldest and one of the most beautiful of the group of cathedrals of Digne, Embrun, Bayons and Senez. Also visit The Citadel while you are in Sisteron. It is the second-most visited historical monument in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.
Sisteron, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix-en-Provence
This cathedral is composed of several structures including a Romanesque cathedral that has become the south aisle, a Gothic church begun in 1285 and finished in 1513, and chapels from the end of the Middle Ages which were opened up to the north aisle during the Baroque period. The baptistry and small cloister are remnants of older buildings. The cathedral contains several works of art including an Aygusi altar (1470), the triptych of the Burning Bush by Nicolas Froment (1476) and Brussels tapestries from the beginning of the 16th century.
Place de l'Universite, (Rue Mazarine)
tel: 04 42 2 3 45 65

Le palais des Papes
Not a cathedral but the palace of seven French Popes during the 14th Century. It's one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Built between 1335 and 1364 on a natural rocky outcrop at the northern edge of Avignon, the Palace overlooks the Rhône River. Previous to the building of the Papal Palace, the site was formerly occupied by the old episcopal palace of the bishops of Avignon. The Palace is a must see with its wonderful architecture and art.
Palais des Papes
RMG - 6, rue Pente Rapide
Charles Ansidei
Tél : +33 04 90 27 50 00
Fax : +33 04 90 86 36 12