Notre Dame de Bonheur, a threatened treasure

Building Heritage
Source : Association Priory Our Lady of Wellbeing - Mairie, 30570 VALLERAUGUE - Tel. 04 67 81 79 60
GPS coordinate : 44.1067409 3.528072

Notre-Dame-de-Bonheur (“Our Lady of Wellbeing”) – Bonahuc (in occitan)

Coming from Camprieu, we leave the oceanic hillside of Mont Aigoual. We climb up the high valley of Bonheur (“wellbeing”) following along a large rocky band bordered by big blocks, which are the remnants of the “Draille du Parc-aux_Loups” (“Wolf Park Track”). To the right, the grassy and wooded slopes, which were, around the year one thousand, the migration pastures which belonged to Gellone (abbey of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert).

In 1080, Gellone was given « Château de l’Espérou », on the top of the ridge nearby L’Esperou, by the lords of Roquefeuil, thus controlling the routes of passage of the pilgrims of Gévaudan in Languedoc.

In the bend of the mountain stream “Resse” which joins the rising river of Bonheur (“Wellbeing”), we find the priory of NOTRE-DAME-DE-BONHEUR (“Our Lady of Wellbeing”), (BONAHUC in Occitan). »

« From the year 1000 to the Enlightenment, Notre-Dame-du-Bonheur », in its domain of forests and rich meadows, on this great way of passage, knew its greatest moments in the high Cévennes. There are few witnesses to speak to us of the generations who built the Cévennes.

The ruins of what was called “the Saint Bernard Cévenol” are very impressive:
– Romanesque church, perfect example of order and harmony, a very rare Latin cross floor plan, elegantly set up, well carved stones, Cistercian simplicity,
– A Monumental porche with machicolation,
– Monastic style house, with vaulted ceilings.

The passage at Notre-Dame-du-Bonheur, haven of rest and beauty, will be forever unforgettable.

At Fontcouverte – Gisèle Jonsson


NB- This historic heritage, despite the efforts of this association and the organisation of an important excavation site from 1989 to 1995, is still regularly plundered and its safeguard perpetually in question, due to problems related to land ownership.

Will the relevant authorities, in the near future, be able to react, to bring this issue to fruition? Or will the outcome be, that this inestimable heritage, thousands of years old, be dispersed, to end up in small private gardens?