Soulac Basilica, Notre Dame de la fin des terres, is a rarity of its kind, as it was completely covered by sand in the 18th century. It has the particularity of having lost its bell tower, which could not be restored, but it remains a very beautiful 12th century monument. Only 9 km from Euronat, it is well worth a visit.
The basilica of Notre Dame de la fin des terres is in Soulac. It owes its name to its proximity to the tip of the Médoc. It was listed on 20 July 1891, shortly after its restoration. It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.
Behind the church there is an old convent and in Grayan and l’Hôpital, a chapel that once belonged to a hospital. The hospital gave the village its name. All these monuments bear witness to a time when pilgrims flocked to our coast. They came from Britain and northern Europe. They took the coastal route to Santiago de Compostela. Euronat perpetuates this history and, in 2012, became a stopover for today’s pilgrims.
The Roman basilica dates from the mid-12th century, when it housed the relics of St Veronica and the Virgin Mary, which the pilgrims visited during their stopover.
In 1741, the village of Soulac was covered in sand. The entire population of Soulac had to move a few kilometres away and a new village was born: “Le jeune Soulac” – young Soulac. The inexorable burying of the basilica began. A few decades later, only the spire of the bell tower remained above the dunes, serving as a landmark for sailors.
The restoration of the church only began in 1859, at the instigation of Cardinal Donnet, then Bishop of Bordeaux. It was not completed until 1905.
The transept couldn’t been preserved. Nor were the restorers able to preserve the bell tower.
They could not remove all the sand from the building. The dune is still there, next to it. About 7 metres from the basilica are still buried under the sand. To enter the basilica, there is a flight of steps leading down to the nave. Inside, the tops of the secondary vaults can be seen here and there, flush with the ground. On the outside, the choir and apse have not been uncovered in order to preserve the structure of the structure itself.
Soulac is only 9 km from Euronat. A visit to Soulac and its basilica is a real pleasure. Classical music concerts are held in the church throughout the summer, which is an ideal opportunity to admire its architecture.
To visit the basilica and find out more, take the DISCOVERY OF THE BASILICA AND VILLAS tour organised by the Soulac sur mer tourist office.