In the southern Auvergne is the Haute-Loire region, which is well known for its magnificent nature and opulent art treasures. In this region, Chanteuges, with its Roman abbey, takes a special place. The twelfth century abbey is situated on a 500-metre high rock formation, right between the rivers Allier and Desges. Within its walls, the abbey guards the remains of the abbey church dating from 936. In the fourteenth century, the abbey was given to the La Chaise-Dieu order, which used it as its summer residence thanks to its beautiful view and special atmosphere. The view is still the same: green valleys, the transparent water of the Allier and Desges, and the village of St. Arcons d’Allier, which is situated on a rocky mountaintop. After the French revolution the abbey fell into disrepair until in 1970 the restoration started. The abbey had just been restored when Artedu started its courses. Accommodation is at the foot of the abbey in ‘La Grande Maison’, a big, atmospheric ‘maison bourgeoise’. It is situated in the oldest street of Chanteuges. The locals are delighted time and time again when they notice that the visitors are enjoying everything their region offers. Strangely enough, mass tourism has not really penetrated the Haute Loire region yet, so that even in the high season it remains delightfully calm and peaceful.
Pays d'Art et Histoire
The Haute-Loire offers the unique possibility to study all stages of Roman and Gothic architecture within a relatively small area. This region has one of the highest concentrations of medieval churches and abbeys in Western Europe. Already in the fifth century building construction took place in the area. During the following thousand years the construction of numerous religious buildings continued at a high pace. About 200 in the Auvergne, of which there are 50 still remaining in the Haute-Loire. From the early-Roman Chapelle de St. Michel de Aiguilhe (950-980) to the high-Gothic monastery of la Chaise-Dieu to the church of Le Puy, whose construction continued until the 16th century. The abbey in Chanteuges, where the course is given, is unique as all architectural styles are represented, including the intermediate styles from Roman to Gothic. Most churches, monasteries, and castles of the area contain paintings. The oldest remaining examples are the painted columns in Brioude from 1120. In the chapel of Saint Michel paintings from 1180 can be found which are regarded as the highlight of Roman frieze art. World famous are the friezes in the Chaise-Dieu monastery. These date back to the 15th century and represent the so-called ‘danse macabre’, death dance. In December 1997 the region around Chanteuges was declared as ‘Pays d’Art et Histoire’. There are only 15 other areas in France, which are classified in this way.