The Priory of Charité-sur-Loire sits proudly on the banks of the Loire, at the meeting point of several important routes. It has been a CCR since 2013, and its cultural project revolves around the Cité du Mot which promotes words ‘in all their forms’.
THE HERITAGE SITE
Founded in 1059 by the Order of Cluny, the priory’s prosperity was based on its location on the banks of the Loire, at the crossroads of the road from Paris to Lyon and the pilgrimage paths to Rome and Santiago de Compostela. It also suffered as a result of this strategic location, notably during the Hundred Years War and religious conflicts. In 1792, following the French Revolution, it was seized and sold off as national property, and effectively became another part of the town. The adjacent church of Notre Dame was classed as a historic monument in 1840 and added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998. In the early 2000s, the town purchased the largest of the monastery buildings from their private owners and began renovation work. Visitors can today discover these restored spaces – the Benedictine garden, the cloister, the chapter house, the staircase and the 18th-century rooms.
THE CULTURAL PROJECT
Situated at the heart of the priory, the Cité du Mot is a project where conservation and promotion of heritage meets culture, education, social cohesion and tourism – all linked by the concept of ‘the word in all its forms’. Exhibitions, concerts, festivals, residencies, meetings, debates and training programmes sit alongside guided visits, book and craft markets and other events which punctuate the life of Charité-sur-Loire.
The Priory of Charité-sur-Loire is one of the most visited sites in the area. The Cité du Mot is responsible for its activity under the label Ville d’Art et d’Histoire, and the promotion of the museum’s collections. Since 2014, the priory has welcomed over a dozen writers in residence and housed original works by contemporary artists, including the windows designed by New Yorker Christopher Wool for the chapter house. The historian and sociologist Pierre Rosanvallon developed here a stage of his Parlement des Invisibles, a key project in the education and community activities of the Cité du Mot.
The Festival du Mot has become the flagship public event of the year, and its programming reflects the spirit and diversity of the 14 years of the Cité du Mot project.
Programming is centred around several key events, including the Festival du Mot, the summer cultural season Voilà l’été dans la Cité!, and Grands Chemins. The priory also hosts numerous exhibitions, events, markets and conferences all year round.
Residencies are an essential component of the work of the Cité du Mot. Priority is given to writing and words in a spirit of openness, interaction and exchange. Residents are invited to get involved in the projects and the activities of the centre.
The Dynamots are working groups comprising the teams of the Cité du Mot along with its partners, experts, elected representatives and the general public.