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Route n°2 : Around Saint Martha’s Collegiate Church
Housing the tomb of Saint Martha, the collegiate church is one of Tarascon’s star attractions. Not only is it a great chance to link religious history and legend but it’s also the perfect way to explore the mansions next to the church.
► Saint Martha’s Collegiate Church
Saint Martha’s Collegiate Church’s history is tied up with Saint Martha’s, who delivered Tarascon from the Tarasque, the monster who terrorised the town, and then became patron of the town. The building still houses the saint’s relics in an antique sarcophagus stored in the crypt, the reliquary in the form of a bust from King Louis XI as well as several paintings of the saint’s life including those of Joseph-Marie Vien painted between 1747 and 1751. Over the centuries, the saint’s tomb has been revered by a multitude of pilgrims including Clovis, Louis IX, René I, Louis XI, François I, Charles VIII, Henri II, Louis XIV and Anne of Austria, Richelieu, Mazarin and Pope Jean XXIII.
Its classic tripartite layout was inspired by the basilica of Saint Maximin (Var) which has housed the relics of Mary Magdalene, Martha’s sister, since the Middle Ages. Its architecture is a mixture of Romanesque (great door, crypt entrance), Gothic (naves), modern (lateral chapels added at the end of construction work in the 17th and 18th centuries) and contemporary since the church was bombed in 1944.
Eglise Sainte Marthe
Place de la Concorde
13 150 Tarascon
Contact : 04 90 91 09 50
(Open from 10:00 to noon on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 16:00 to 18:00 on Friday; 10:00 to noon on Saturday. Closed on Wednesdays and Fridays during the school holidays)
8:00 to 18:00 every day
Saturday at 18:00 (winter) or 18:30 (summer)
Sunday at 10:30
Read the parish’s news and mass times at:
Mettre lien avec site Internet :http://paroisse-de-tarascon.over-blog.com
► Hôtel de Laudun - Place Branly and Rue du Rouet (no admission to the interior)
The Hôtel de Laudun is certainly one of the best conserved mansions in town. Listed as a historical monument in 1941 and slightly damaged by the bombings during World War II, it was recently restored by the state. Built in the 15th century but greatly altered and extended in the 17th century by the noble Clémens family, lords of Graveson, the inspiration for its courtyard façade is heavily influenced by the Renaissance with its patterns of the four seasons and mullion windows framed by pilasters.
► Hôtel Clerc de Mollières - 7, Rue du Progrès (no admission to the interior)
Joseph Clerc de Mollières was canon treasurer of Saint Martha’s Collegiate Church and was heavily involved in supporting the poor, notably taking part in the founding of the Hôpital de la Charité in 1695. He bought this mansion in 1646 as his private residence and made part of it the first mount of piety, which was then moved to the Hôtel de Sallèle (in rue Salaire) which closed its doors in 1938. The street-side façade of the mansion was altered in the 18th century.
►Hôtel de Sade-Cadillan - Place Fraga and Rue du Progrès (no admission to the interior)
Place Fraga, in the middle of which is a 1267 landmark engraved with the faces of Saint Martha and the Tarasque, was formerly the Hôtel de Sade-Cadillan’s courtyard. Belonging to the Raoulx family, this mansion was built in the 15th century and altered during the 17th and 18th centuries during which time, the Avignon architect Jean-Baptiste Franque may have worked on its great staircase.