Many emblematic shells of the pilgrimages are found in Montpellier, an unavoidable stop on the via tolosana, which is the way of Camin Romieu, towards Compostela, but the shell of the Hôtel de Sarret is without link with the symbolism of the jackfruit.
Guilhem V, as a hero of the crusade, brought back in 1103 a piece of the Cross which will be used as a relic before disappearing with the black virgin in the destruction of the Holy Cross church.
"Trompe de barlongue" as the men of art call it, the shell of the Sarret Hotel is an admirable and complex architectural feat.
Considered as the largest shell in France, this building, at first sight simple, is full of secrets and mysteries.
A bit of History...
In 1636, the reconstruction of the old hotel of Genebrières is carried out with, at the base, the execution of a "shell".
The façade was modified at the end of the 17th century, according to plans by d'Aviler. In 1783, the building was raised by one floor and the façade was redone again. The hotel occupies most of the block between the streets of the Palace, the Shell, Astruc and Foch.
The shell largely clears the corner of Rue du Palais and Rue de la Coquille.
It is composed of very long voussoirs that radiate from a boss that may have been sculpted from a shell.
The births of this trunk are marked by a band. The head arches are reinforced by a chain.
The forebody protrudes very little. It is especially marked by the slits that adorn the jambs and the splayed edges of the two arched doors.
The keys of these arches support the dripstone entablature, which rests on the other hand on the four consoles decorated with acanthus leaves, carried by pilasters. The corner chains have alternating bosses surrounded by wide grooves.
According to certain sources, this shell would be the fruit of a work of high precision, qualified as "maconnique".
This shell shows a certain alignment of important places, and a reflection on the construction of this city.
"Pi, the golden section, royal bent and others compose this shell. Each line appearing on the shell makes it possible to align exactly the important buildings of the city (places of worship, politics...). The base of the shell is equivalent to ½ of the whole shell so if we take the cathedral of Montpellier as an example, the base representing the distance shell-cathedral Saint Pierre falls exactly on ½ of the distance shell-house of the choirs ".
Moreover, it was found that each door of the rue du Palais was connected to these famous features.
Nothing would have been left to chance.
And Georges Frêche, by his passion for Ancient Greece, would have only acted in the continuity of a certain Masonic logic.
Hôtel de Sarret
1, Rue du Plan du Palais,
Tel: 04 67 60 47 97
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator