The Abbey Saint-Michel is intimately tied to the origins of Gaillac, a silent witness to the town’s long history.
A bit of history
In 972 AD the Bishop of Albi handed some land to a group of Benedictine monks, instructing them to found an abbey there. These monks also set about the business of winegrowing – with great success, it must be said – which contributed to Gaillac’s economic development and to the town’s burgeoning reputation both in France and further afield across Europe.
Gaillac managed to avoid destruction at the hands of the Albi Crusaders. But the town was not entirely spared by the 100 Years War, or the French Religious Wars. It was the wine trade that brought about Gaillac’s regeneration. The abbey was rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries before the French Revolution of 1789 finally sounded the death knell for its role as a religious building.
The Abbey today, and its museum
The Abbey Saint-Michel is open to visitors every day. If you want an amazing view of the Abbey rising up from the River Tarn, just take a short walk onto the Saint-Michel bridge and look back. The red brick and ochre tones of the building are symbolic of the town of Gaillac, and they blend beautifully with the colours of the sunset. In its vaulted cellars that were once used to store wine barrels, the museum retraces the history and traditions of Gaillac, its wines and vineyards, and its Abbey from Gallo-Roman times to the current day.
‘Apero concerts’ in the Abbey garden
Every Friday night throughout July and August, the idyllic Abbey gardens open their doors to the public for a chilled out evening based around a tasting of local Gaillac wines. Thanks to coloured parasols, outdoor lanterns, a stage and a dance floor, everything is in place for a great night. You can meet up with local winemakers who’ll share their passion for the local area and its products, while rock, blues or salsa bands provide entertainment. There’s always a real party mood that perfectly matches Gaillac’s mild summer evenings.
More than 100 different wines are waiting for you here! There are wine-tastings where you can get expert advice about wines and winemaking in a truly unique setting. Reds, whites, rosés, sweet, sparkling, young and old… le Gaillac’s vineyards offer a range of wines that will surprise and delight all fans of the grape! At the Maison des Vins you can also take part in courses and workshops about understanding wine, and it even serves as the starting point for a tour of the vineyards in a 2CV (a unique experience to savour wine and landscapes) or a wine tasting and oenology course.