Historic site and monument
on Collobrières

Chartreuse de la Verne

The monastery of La Verne is a historical religious monument in the Maures forest
Built on the site of a former abandoned priory that already bore the name 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.
Successive fires in the 13th, 14th and 16th centuries ravaged it and destroyed all the buildings. It was rebuilt each time. The last reconstruction took a long time and was barely completed when the Revolution broke out, leading to the sequestration of all the property. In 1792, after the last Carthusian monks had fled, the land, buildings and all the furnishings (religious objects, paintings, library, etc.) were sold as “national property”.

On 18 January 1921, the Charterhouse was classified as a Historic 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 doorway.
IMPORTANT: From 21 June to 20 September, the RD214 road leading to the Chartreuse is subject to access rules for the Var forest massifs in order to comply with the fire risk prevention plan. Before any visit, it is essential to find out more by phoning the Collobrières tourist office on 04 94 48 08 00 or visiting 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 an abandoned priory that already bore the name 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 dividing line of the dioceses passed through the middle of the church and cloister, i.e. in a north-south direction. Some believe that the Romanesque church was built over a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Laverna, protector of thieves who found safe haven in the thick forest of the Maures, Verna also being the Latin word for slave, used to designate the descendants of the Saracens of Fraxinet (La Garde Freinet). Finally, vernium is also used to refer to the Alder tree. Alder trees are common on the banks of the river running through 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 and 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 came under attack from numerous looters, sometimes from the surrounding lords, but also from 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 the collapse took place between 1707 and 1715 following attacks by the Duke of Savoy’s army against Louis XIV’s troops during the siege of Toulon. In the search report for the Charterhouse drawn up by the Collobrières municipal officers on 7 June 1790, it is stated that “the old church having been destroyed more than 200 years ago, services are held in a large, well-maintained chapel with a beautiful marble altar and a sanctuary paved with blue and white marble”.

Whether it was a question of rebuilding or continuing the building programme, the Carthusian monks were hardly “idle”: the dates 1736 on the door leading to the lodgings located to the west of the entrance vault, 1772 on the pediment of the vault leading to the church and cloister, and 1789 on the “East” pediment of the (West) vault leading to the gardens, bear witness to this.

But in 1790, the Revolution led to the sequestration of all the Chartreuse’s assets, and then in 1792, after the last Carthusian monks were forced to flee, the buildings and grounds 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 at Saint Clair near Le Lavandou and from there take a fishing boat to Nice, where the Bishop of Nice made a wing of his bishopric available to them. The religious history of the Chartreuse de la Verne, dedicated to the Virgin “Notre Dame de Clémence”, had lasted just over six centuries. This was to be the beginning of a long period during which nature would take over the site and cause extensive damage to the buildings, sometimes with the help of unscrupulous walkers. By decree of 18 January 1921, the Carthusian monastery was classified as a historic monument as “remains in the forest”, with the exception of the farm buildings and the main courtyard they surround. On 1 March 1961, the Eaux et Forêts (Water and Forestry Department) became the owner on behalf of the estates and installed a caretaker.
At that point, nothing seemed capable of saving the chartreuse 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 formed and decided to set about renovating the site. Between 1969 and 1982, this dynamic team, with limited means but a great deal of energy and desire, carried out major works that gradually brought the Charterhouse out of the oblivion of history. In 1982, La Verne returned to its original vocation, welcoming monks and, from 1986, nuns from the monastic family of Bethlehem, the Assumption of the Virgin and Saint Bruno. Much more extensive renovation work then began on all the buildings, which saw the rebirth of the Romanesque church and the large cloister. This work was made possible by the combined efforts of the monastic family, historic monuments, the département, the commune of Collobrières, the association “Les amis de La Verne” and the many visitors who now came to La Verne, some of whom became true patrons of the monastery.

The monastery is built on a rocky promontory. The monumental doorway is made of serpentine stone, a volcanic marble from the Maures massif.

In the 17th century, the entire monastery was decorated with this stone, extracted from a quarry in La Môle, a village near Cogolin.
During the chestnut festival, held on the last 3 Sundays in October, it is impossible to go through the village of Collobrières, so access to the Chartreuse de la Verne is only possible via the D39 (route de Gonfaron) or the D14 from Grimaud.
Additional information :
ACCESS
La Chartreuse de la Verne is accessible via the D214 departmental road. This road is tarmac but narrow and winding.
Access is not recommended for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and coaches are not allowed.

VEHICLE and MINIBUS PARKING
Limited number of parking spaces. No reserved parking spaces.
Parking 800m from the Chartreuse de la Verne.

BOUTIQUE
The monastic craft shop is open at the same times as the visit but is closed on Sundays.
We speak : French

Themes

  • Religious heritage
  • Charterhouse

Location details

During the Chestnut Festival, on the last 3 Sundays in October, it is impossible to go through the village of Collobrières. Access to the Chartreuse de la Verne is only possible via the D39 (route de Gonfaron) or the D14 from Grimaud.

IMPORTANT: During the summer period – from 21 June to 20 September – the RD214 road leading to the monastery is subject to the rules governing access to the Var’s forestry massifs in order to comply with the fire risk prevention plan.

Before any visit, it is essential to obtain 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 monastery is located in the forest known as the “Corniche des Maures”; the access road is forbidden in the event of a “very severe” (red) or “exceptional” (black) risk

The car park is 800 m from the monastery itself.

Visit

Language(s) of the visit

French

Opening

Horaires d'ouverture du 01 April au 31 May 2024
LundiOuvert de 11h à 17h
MardiOuvert de 11h à 17h
MercrediOuvert de 11h à 17h
JeudiOuvert de 11h à 17h
VendrediOuvert de 11h à 17h
SamediOuvert de 11h à 17h
DimancheOuvert de 11h à 17h
Horaires d'ouverture du 01 June au 31 August 2024
LundiOuvert de 11h à 18h
MardiOuvert de 11h à 18h
MercrediOuvert de 11h à 18h
JeudiOuvert de 11h à 18h
VendrediOuvert de 11h à 18h
SamediOuvert de 11h à 18h
DimancheOuvert de 11h à 18h
Horaires d'ouverture du 01 September au 06 November 2024
LundiOuvert de 11h à 17h
MardiOuvert de 11h à 17h
MercrediOuvert de 11h à 17h
JeudiOuvert de 11h à 17h
VendrediOuvert de 11h à 17h
SamediOuvert de 11h à 17h
DimancheOuvert de 11h à 17h
Horaires d'ouverture du 07 November au 31 December 2024
LundiOuvert de 11h à 17h
MercrediOuvert de 11h à 17h
JeudiOuvert de 11h à 17h
VendrediOuvert de 11h à 17h
SamediOuvert de 11h à 17h
DimancheOuvert de 11h à 17h
Horaires d'ouverture du 01 February au 31 March 2025
LundiOuvert de 11h à 17h
MercrediOuvert de 11h à 17h
JeudiOuvert de 11h à 17h
VendrediOuvert de 11h à 17h
SamediOuvert de 11h à 17h
DimancheOuvert de 11h à 17h

Exceptional closure(s)

  • 09/05/2024
  • 15/08/2024
  • 01/11/2024
  • 25/12/2024
  • 13/05/2023

Rates

Tour fee:
7 € per person, 3 € for 12-18 year olds,
Free for under 12s

5 € for groups of 10 or more,

Services

Services

Dog friendly

Les animaux ne sont pas acceptés

Adress

Corniche des Maures
83610 Collobrières
How do I get there?

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