Chartreuse de la Verne
Successive fires in the 13th, 14th and 16th centuries ravaged it and destroyed all the buildings. It was rebuilt each time. The last reconstruction was long and hardly finished when the Revolution broke out, leading to the sequestration of all the property. In 1792, after the last Carthusian monks had fled, the land, the buildings and all the furniture (religious objects, paintings, library, etc.) were sold as "national property". On 18 January 1921, the Charterhouse was classified as a historical monument and on 1 March 1961, the Ministry of Agriculture became the owner. Since 1983, the Charterhouse has been home to the monastic family of Bethlehem, the Assumption of the Virgin, and St. Bruno.
The building was originally entered through a monumental serpentine doorway to the south, and is now entered to the left of this door.
IMPORTANT: From 21 June to 20 September, the RD214 road leading to the Chartreuse is subject to the rules of access to the forest massifs of the Var to respect the fire risk prevention plan. Before any visit, it is imperative to get information by phoning the Collobrières tourist office on 04 94 48 08 00 or by consulting the Var prefecture website http://www.var.gouv.fr/ or in the daily press (Var Matin)
THE HISTORY OF THE MONASTERY
Built on the site of a former abandoned priory which already bore the name of Notre Dame de la Verne, the Charterhouse was founded in 1170 on the initiative of Pierre Isnard, bishop of Toulon and Frédol d'Anduse, bishop of Fréjus.
At the time of the Carthusian monks, the line of division of the dioceses passed through the middle of the church and the cloister, i.e. the North-South direction. For some, the Romanesque church would have been built on a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Laverna, protector of thieves to whom the thick forest of the Moors offered a safe haven, Verna also means slave in Latin.This word was used to designate the descendants of the Saracens of Fraxinet (La Garde Freinet). Finally, we can also think of the use of vernium to designate the Alder. Indeed, alders are common on the banks of the river flowing at the bottom of the valley. The first Romanesque church was consecrated on 3 October 1174. It was destroyed by fire and rebuilt. Thanks to numerous donations or purchases, the Chartreuse de la Verne soon became the owner of more than three thousand hectares of land (forests, pastures, arable land and salt pans). The Charterhouse was burnt down in 1214, 1271 and 1318. The fire destroyed all the buildings except the Romanesque church, but each time it rose from the ashes. In addition, the convent was attacked by many looters, sometimes by the surrounding lords, but also by the Saracens and in 1577, during the Wars of Religion. It was probably as a result of this last invasion that the vault of the Romanesque church collapsed. Others claim that this collapse took place between 1707 and 1715 following the attacks of the Duke Savoie's army against the troops of Louis XIV, during the siege of Toulon. In the minutes of the search of the Charterhouse drawn up by the municipal officers of Collobrières on 7 June 1790, it is stated: "the old church having been destroyed more than 200 years ago, the service is held in a large, well-maintained chapel with a very beautiful marble altar and a sanctuary paved with blue and white marble".
Whether rebuilding or continuing the building programme, the Carthusian monks were hardly "idle": the dates of 1736 on the access door to the lodgings located to the west of the entrance vault, 1772 on the pediment of the access vault to the church and cloister, 1789 on the "East" pediment of the (West) access vault to the gardens, bear witness to this.
But in 1790, the Revolution led to the sequestration of all the Chartreuse's property, and then in 1792, after the last Carthusian monks were forced to flee, the buildings and land were sold as national property. The last prior, Dom Raphaël Paris, was able to take refuge in Bologna, Italy. On leaving the Carthusian monastery, the Carthusian monks were able to reach the beach of Saint Clair near Le Lavandou and from there by fishing boat to Nice, where the bishop of Nice put a wing of his bishopric at their disposal. The religious history of the Chartreuse de la Verne, placed under the vocation of the Virgin "Notre Dame de Clémence", had lasted a little over six centuries. A long period was to begin during which nature was to take over the site and deeply damage the buildings, sometimes with the help of unscrupulous walkers. By decree of 18 January 1921, the Charterhouse was classified as a historical monument as "remains in the forest", with the exception of the farm buildings and the courtyard of honour that they surround. On March 1, 1961, the Water and Forestry Department became the owner of the estate and installed a caretaker. Nothing else seemed to be able to save the Charterhouse from certain disappearance when, in 1968, under the impetus of Mrs. Annette Englebert and her friend, Annick Lemoine, an association called "Les amis de la Verne" was created and decided to work on the renovation of the site. The dynamic team that was then formed carried out very important work between 1969 and 1982, with limited means but with a lot of energy and desire, which gradually brought the Charterhouse out of the oblivion of history. In 1982, La Verne regained its initial vocation by welcoming monks and then, from 1986, nuns from the monastic family of Bethlehem, the Assumption of the Virgin and Saint Bruno. This was the beginning of a much more extensive renovation of the buildings, which saw the rebirth of the Romanesque church and the large cloister. This work was made possible by the combined action of the monastic family, the historical monuments, the department, the commune of Collobrières, the association "Les amis de La Verne" and the many visitors who now come to La Verne, some of whom will become true patrons of the monastery.
The monastery is built on a rocky promontory. The construction of these high ramparts was necessary for the establishment of the buildings and allowed to limit intrusions from the outside.
The monumental door is made of serpentine stone, a volcanic marble from the Maures massif.
In the 17th century, the whole monastery was decorated with this stone extracted from a quarry in La Môle, a village near Cogolin.
VERY IMPORTANT: During the summer period - from 21 June to 20 September - the RD214 road leading to the monastery is subject to the rules of access to the forest massifs of the Var in order to respect the fire risk prevention plan.
Closed on Tuesday.
From 01/04 to 31/05, daily between 11 am and 5 pm.
Closed exceptionally on Feast of the Ascension.
From 01/06 to 31/08, daily between 11 am and 6 pm.
Closed exceptionally on August 15th.
From 01/09 to 06/11, daily between 11 am and 5 pm.
Closed exceptionally on November 1st.
From 07/11 to 31/12 between 11 am and 5 pm.
Closed on Tuesday.
Closed exceptionally on December 25th.
7 € per person, 3 € for 12-18 year olds,
Free for under 12s
5 € for groups of 10 or more,.