The city of Moliere is steeped in history, including tales of a visit by a King that put the Languedoc village on the map. Pézenas is a town I can return to over and over — even in the Mistral and rain.
The first time I visited Pézenas, I was curious to see the town that “rivaled Uzès,” according to some ex-pat friends. While exploring the Saturday market and various shops, I could see why tourists and ex-pats put Pézenas on their lists. Read more here.
My second visit to Pézenas was with fellow passengers traveling the Canal du Midi on the Athos du Midi. Thanks to our guide Mathieu, the beautiful doors, windows, and buildings I’d photographed in Pézenas had a story. Read more here.
My third time in Pézenas was over a long weekend. It was then that the village’s past came to life.
A Village’s Past In Real Time
Rue des Juifs – Jewish Quarters
The Jewish presence in Pézenas dates back to Roman and medieval times. The town’s “Rue des Juifs” (Street of the Jews) is a reminder of the vibrant community that once thrived there. Despite persecution and attempts to drive them out over the centuries, the faithful persevered, and Pezenas became a center of Jewish learning and scholarship.
One notable event in Jewish history was the expulsion of the Jews by King Charles of France in the 17th century. While many fled, others found refuge in Pézenas and continued to practice their faith. Today, Pézenas is recognized as an important site of Jewish heritage in France. Visitors can explore the history of the Jews through museums, synagogues, and other landmarks.
The importance of Pézenas as a political and cultural center, especially during the 16th and 17th centuries, is impossible to ignore today. Along the streets of Pézenas, for example, you notice grand structures known as “hotels particuliers.” They were not for the public but for the wealthy and powerful. The Hôtel de Lacoste, for example, was built for Lacoste, the Prince of Conti and Governor of Languedoc.
Pézenas was once the capital of the Languedoc region. Located between Paris and Spain, the city was an important stop for royalty and travelers. One of the most notable figures was King Louis XIII. Impressed by Pézenas’ wealth and beauty, and a patron of the arts, King Louis helped establish political connections between the city and the French monarchy. In turn, his support elevated the city’s cultural status and increased the town’s resources.
Writers, musicians, and Moliere
Many famous writers, musicians, and actors lived and worked in Pézenas. Moliere is perhaps the most famous and a favorite of the local aristocracy. The playwright lived in Pézanas for several years during the 17th century. Here, he wrote some of his most famous works, including “Tartuffe” and “The Misanthrope.” Moliere also performed with his theater company in Pézenas.
Today Pézenas is a popular tourist destination because of its storied past, historic architecture, charming streets, and cultural scene. In summer, the city hosts a popular theater event that pays tribute to Moliere and his legacy in Pézenas.
Whether you visit the Saturday market or stroll the ancient alleys, the views of Pézenas will make your imagination soar … and keep your camera clicking.
Categories: Around France, Blog
Tagged as: Comedy, French literature, french theatre, Hôtel de Lacoste, hotels particuliers, Jewish art, Jewish history, Jewish museums, Jewish Quarters, Jewish traditions, Moliere, Moliere theatre festival, Pézenas, Rue des Juifs, Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, Theatre Playwright
Leave a Reply