St. Peter's church, with its massive facade, was built in the 13th century, but in 1700 it was enlarged and its orientation changed. "Only the nave is original, while the stained-glass windows and side aisles date from the 17th century. As for the inscription on its pediment "Liberté Egalité Fraternité", it appeared under Napoleon, at the time of the Republican movement. It is frequently found in other villages". Romanesque in style, it features a curious skylight above the high altar, as well as an imposing organ "which we had some difficulty getting through the door in 1872. The red crosses on its pillars are not the Templar cross pattee, but the sign of their consecration in 1266". Most of its furnishings are listed or registered as Historic Monuments.
The village at the foot of the rock!
Market day: Tuesday
> Les toiles du sud Festival: July & August
> Quince Festival: October
> Exhibition of Provençal nativity scenes: December
Nestled against a huge rock of tufa, the village of Cotignac seems to have just stepped out of a traditional Provençal crèche. Walking through its colorful streets, we come to the foot of the majestic rock and its cave dwellings that housed the first inhabitants during the early Middle Ages.
Many artists and lovers of landscapes come to stay in this village of character, to immortalise the beauty of the site through their art: photographs, paintings … From the summit of the Rock topped by two towers awaits a magnificent view of the terraced hills where olive trees , cypress, pines and oaks grow and offer a choice setting to its residents.
Cours Gambetta, the main square of the town, is the perfect place to hang out and spend a few moments, the time to enjoy an aperitif or a pleasant meal in the shade of plane trees.
Did you know?
A single village, member of the association “Shrine Towns in France”.
Cotignac is the only village in the world where the Holy Family appeared. Virgin Mary and Joseph in 1519 in 1660, rescued a message to cotignacéens. The Shrine of Our Lady of Graces and the Monastery La Font Saint Joseph’s Bessillon are major cult sites of the Var.
The village on video
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It was first mentioned in 1174, when Pope Alexander III, in his bull of the 6th of the Calendes of June 1174, placed the priories of Saint Marie and Saint Martin de Cotignac under the dependence of the Canons Regular of Saint Augustin de Pignan.
Despite the construction in 1266 of the parish church of Saint Pierre on the current site of the Village, the Village cemetery remained located at the chapel until 1582, proof of the villagers' attachment to this place.
During the French Revolution, the priory was sold to various owners and converted into farm buildings. It wasn't until 1840, when the chapel was donated by the Allemand family, that it was returned to religious use. The other parts of the former priory remain in private ownership.
After eight centuries of tumultuous history, the Saint Martin chapel is in need of extensive restoration. What's more, the recently-discovered wall paintings in the north chapel, dating from the 13th or 14th century, give this building an exceptional character by virtue of their artistic quality and their rarity in Provence.
Open-air cinema, theater and music!
Sanctuary built in 1519 following apparitions of the Virgin Mary under the name of Notre Dame de Grâces. In 1660, King Louis XIV, accompanied by his mother, came to thank the Virgin for his miraculous birth, and Saint Joseph appeared on Mont Bessillon.
While this beautiful cultural and tourist site offers visitors a true haven of peace, it has also become a spiritual Mecca where many pilgrims have been coming for 500 years to recharge their batteries with the Holy Family.
> A spiritual Mecca:
"In France, in the heart of Provence, in the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, the Holy Family has chosen to appear on a hill in Cotignac, a hidden, verdant spot. Here, for 500 years, pilgrims, especially families, have been welcomed in a prayerful, simple and fraternal atmosphere at the Shrines of Notre-Dame de Grâces and Saint Joseph au Bessillon. They come in procession to find new life by receiving graces, sources of joy and fruitfulness".
Throughout the year, the Sanctuary offers fundamental retreats, times of formation, a multitude of varied pilgrimages and a personalized welcome for all its visitors: families, solo pilgrims, tourists on outings...
> Rooted in French history :
The Notre-Dame de Grâces chapel on Mont Verdaille in Cotignac was built in 1519 following an apparition of the Virgin Mary to Jean de la Baume, whom she asked to build a chapel there and to come in procession so that she could spread her graces. The Oratorians were entrusted with the care of the sanctuary.
On November 3, 1637, while at prayer, Brother Fiacre had a vision: the Queen was to say three novenas of prayer to the Blessed Virgin, and a son would be given to her. The first novena to Notre-Dame de Grâces in Provence, the second to Notre-Dame de Paris and the third to Notre-Dame des Victoires, the church of Brother Fiacre's convent. Once informed, the Queen began to believe in the fulfillment of these promises, and on September 5, 1638, nine months to the day after the end of the last novena, the heir to the throne, Louis "Dieudonné", was born, regarded by the royal couple as a grace obtained by Our Lady of Cotignac.
Regent Anne of Austria and King Louis XIV visited Cotignac at the beginning of their reigns. Queen Anne died in 1666. A year later, in the sanctuary, Louis XIV had a plaque affixed in memory of his mother, recalling that it was given to his people by the vows Anne of Austria made in this church. It is still there, clearly legible. Brother Fiacre's vision of the birth of Louis XIV, and the King's thanksgiving pilgrimage in February 1660, put the chapel of Notre-Dame de Grâces in the spotlight, and it became a place of pilgrimage for people from all over Provence. During the French Revolution, the buildings and chapel were used as a prison. The neglect in which these buildings were left soon turned them into a ruin. In 1810, the chapel was restored, and since then, crowds from all over Provence have flocked here. The crowning of the statue and painting of the Virgin Mary in 1938 gave the sanctuary a new lease of life, including internationally.
> In the footsteps of Louis XIV :
When you arrive at the esplanade, where you'll find numerous ex-votos, enjoy the panoramic view over the vast plain of olive and cypress trees. The stairs facing the sanctuary are known as the "Escaliers Louis XIV", as the Sun King climbed them on horseback during his visit.
Free admission. Guided tours available for groups of 10 or more.
Le Sanctuaire à travers les âges" treasure hunt available free of charge on the "Baludik" mobile app. Duration: approx. 1h15.
Catering and accommodation available at the Foyer de la Sainte Famille, in rooms or on the bivouac site.