Located in the Aude département.
Saint Hilaire the first Bishop of Carcassonne built a chapel here in the Sixth century, and was subsequently buried in it.
The chapel was replaced in the Eighth century by a Church, built by Benedictine monks who founded the Abbey here.
The abbey was originally named after Saint Saturnin (or Saint Sernin) the first Bishop of Toulouse, but was renamed after Hilaire when his remains were discovered on 22nd February 970, on the instructions of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne and his wife Countess Adelaide. The Count and Countess were benefactors, and were later buried in the abbey around 1012.
The abbey flourished during the tenth century, bolstered by extensive donations. It grew ever more powerful between the eleventh and thirteenth century. It was damaged during the course of the Cathar Wars and restored by abbot William (1237-1260) who built the nave in the gothic style in 1257. The transverse ribs were intended to carry a wooden frame.
The cloister was constructed under Bertrand of Touron, Abbot from 1323-1340.
Saint Hilaire was the birthplace of the white sparking wine known as Blanquette de Limoux, the first reference is from 1531 - long before the method for creating sparkling wine was known elsewhere.
The abbey went into decline in the fourteenth century, presumably a consequence of the Black Death. In 1344 the Bishop of Carcassonne reduced the number of monks from 29 to 20.
Further decline followed. By 1741 most of the abbey's property had passed into private hands and only seven monks remained. Seven years later, by order of the bishop, monastic offices ceased. Ten years later still the abbey church was converted into a parish church.
The spire was built in 1898.
Today the abbey is in reasonably good condition, though as with many ancient monuments in France, parts are still in private hands and not accessible to the public.
Some things to see: