Located in the Haute-Loire, the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu is an ancient Benedictine abbey, head of the Casadean order. The monument was founded in 1043 by Robert de Turlande and rebuilt by Pope Clement VI in the mid-14th century. Renowned for its exceptional gothic architecture, it is a jewel to be discovered absolutely during a passage in the commune of La Chaise-Dieu in Auvergne. The abbey, whose renovation has restored it to its former splendor, houses remarkable 16th century tapestries, offers interactive discovery of its spaces and provides a choice setting for cultural events. It is a place that fascinates young and old, history lovers and old architecture enthusiasts. Not to mention that it is located in the heart of a charming village perched on a granite plateau and surrounded by a green and bucolic nature

The abbey of La Chaise-Dieu, discovery of 1000 years of history

It is an understatement to say that the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu is one of the most remarkable religious buildings of the French heritage, it was the mother of hundreds of abbeys and priories throughout Europe. The history of the building has not been a smooth one, between fires, reconstructions, periods of neglect and reclaiming of space. But in recent years, a series of important works has allowed the abbey to regain its former glory, without altering its heritage. The discovery of the architecture and its long history is now the delight of all those who venture there.

The visit of the abbey begins from the outside, where an elegant staircase leads to a façade where two towers frame a large central part. Once inside, one discovers a gothic architecture of Languedoc type and an abbey church of Saint-Robert which abounds in treasures. First of all, the monks' choir separated from the nave by a flamboyant Gothic rood screen, then the 144 carved oak stalls surrounding the tomb of Pope Clement VI, a black marble mausoleum with a white marble recumbent. It is essential to take the time to linger over each detail, so as not to miss the organ, whose origins date back to 1683 and is typical of the French classical period, as well as the gilded wooden high altar, the side aisles and the Dance of Death. This mural, dated 1460, accurately depicts the calamities of the 15th century, such as the plague epidemic, the Hundred Years' War and, more generally, the funeral marches.

Once you have strolled through the other exceptional places such as the cloister or the Echo room, you will then linger in one of the most fascinating places of the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu: the Notre-Dame-du-Collège chapel, with remarkable Flemish tapestries of the 16th century. There are 14 tapestries, 80 linear meters long, showing scenes from the Old and New Testaments. A national treasure classified as a Historic Monument since 1840, they have also been cleaned and restored in order to be presented to the public in optimal conditions.

A historical place with multiple experiences

Theabbey of La Chaise-Dieu is a place that offers various experiences to adults and children. Families can visit the building, its spaces and admire its treasures with an interactive audio guide. Some places use modern technologies such as augmented reality to take a real journey through the history of the monument. A brand new scenography of the Dance of Death explains in a playful and educational way this valuable medieval fresco on the universal theme of death.

The abbey can also be visited with a guide. The "Essential" thematic tour leads to the Saint-Robert abbey church, the Echo room, the cloister and allows to learn more about the 14 Flemish tapestries. The visit "The tapestries, treasure of La Chaise-Dieu" allows to understand the work in depth. The guide evokes in particular the weaving techniques, the materials used and proceeds to the analysis of the iconographic themes.

While the beautiful days are back, the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu also offers a rich program of animations and other cultural events. Starting with an escape game (in 2022 only) in which children from 6 years old can participate, and which invites them to play Sherlock Holmes to find the mysterious treasure of Robert de Turlande, the monk who founded the abbey in the 11th century. A very beautiful exhibition will also be installed from June 15 to September 30, 2022 in the Richelieu room, the west corridor and the former dormitories of the building. Produced in partnership with the TRAME[S] network, Tapestry of the Massif Central and named "Weaving Nature", the public will discover 18 tapestries from various periods on the themes of vegetation and nature. A weaving workshop, seasoned walk and a film-discussion will complete the event. From August 18 to 28, 2022, classical music will take over the place for the unmissable Festival de la Chaise-Dieu, with a 56th edition that will once again see great artists of sacred music settle in the enchanting setting of the abbey.

Take advantage of the other treasures around the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu

When visiting La Chaise-Dieu in the Haute-Loire to admire the architecture of its exceptional abbey, its multi-century-old treasures and to immerse yourself in its history, you should also take the time to discover the eponymous village. La Chaise-Dieu is a charming village with a medieval atmosphere in which it is good to stroll to admire its beautiful built heritage. Recent works in the avenue de la Gare and in the adjacent streets contribute to make the small town a charming place to walk and stop in the galleries and art craft stores.

It is then that one leaves to explore the surroundings of La Chaise-Dieu, with valleys, forests, a hilly and green nature. Several hikes are possible in the area to make the most of the natural environment and pick wild fruits. You can also stop over in historical towns. Allègre, an ancient feudal city and the amazing ruins of its castle, Saint-Paulien and its Gallo-Roman vestiges and of course Le Puy-en-Velay, are as many stops to reach from the sublime plateau of La Chaise-Dieu.

More information on the Facebook and Instagram pages of La Chaise-Dieu Abbey.