Totally new in 2019
From mid july , a new museum tour will be open to visitors to discover different parts of the old benedictin abbey as cloister, echo room (or whispering room) which have been restored and also new rooms as the Clement VI lodge (optical theater in the old kitchens), the new Notre Dame du Collège chapel with 14 flemish tapestries from the 16th century all restored and the grandiose St Robert abbey church where a famous music festival takes place every end of august from 1966 and where you can admire the tomb of the Pope Clement VI surrounded by 144 stalls and the mural “Danse macabre” from 15th century
Saint-Robert Abbey Church
At the centre of La Chaise-Dieu is a monumental work of religious history. On the high plateaus, Saint Robert Abbey Church is a site not to be missed during your stay. It is a 14th century Gothic church housing the tomb of the well-known Pope Clement VI, encircled by 144 sculpted oak stalls.
This is a place of silence and meditation around the famous mural of the Dance of Death, a 15th century painting. An exquisite rood screen separates the nave in two, with at its foot the tomb of Saint Robert, the founder of the 11th century Benedictine Abbey, “The Casadei”.
The Penitents Chapel
This is a beautiful room with high vaults. It was built during the abbotship of Jacques of Saint-Nectaire, whose coat-of-arms can be seen on the keystones. The Symbols of the Passion, used every Good Friday in the 19th century, are displayed on the tribune. Robert Falcucci’s paintings of the Stations of the Cross decorate the chapel walls.
This was the monks’ refectory. It was built in the 15th century and converted into a chapel in the early 19th century. The chapel was used by the confraternity of penitents. Today, mass is celebrated here in winter and the offices of the community of St John are held in summer.
The Penitents Chapel
The Penitents Chapel
The cloister is the centre of the monastery. It only has two sides: the north side, leading to the church and the west, running alongside the hostelry. We have to imagine the south side next to the refectory and the east side leading to the dormitories and the monks’ cells. These parts were destroyed shortly before the French Revolution, then further vandalised in the 19th century.
The cloister was built in the 15th century and completed by the abbot Jacques of Saint-Nectaire in the 16th century. It replaced the older Romanesque cloister built by Saint Robert and is designed in an impressive, Flamboyant Gothic style. In the south-west corner, we can see where the monks washed their hands in a wash basin, before going into the refectory. We can also see the refectory door.
The Echo room
The Echo room in La Chaise Dieu Abbey is always a real mystery for visitors. The room dates from the 17th century. If you stand in one corner and whisper, someone in the opposite corner can hear you just as well as if you were standing right beside them. Legend has it that the room, the last of three similar rooms the Abbey once contained, was used for confessions by lepers. They could confess their sins without the risk of contaminating the priest…
The Clementine Tower
The Clementine Tower is a fortified castle keep and the highest point in La Chaise-Dieu. It dates from the 14th century. In 1562, the monks were able to survive a three-week siege by the Huguenots thanks to the water-well inside it. The keep also provided protection for treasures and tapestries. Today it houses the sacristy.
Visits are not possible to the site for safety reasons. But you can admire its outline when you visit the medieval town.
The wall walk and the medieval town
Explore the history of La Chaise-Dieu through its stones, its facades decorated with mascarons, bretèches, fortifications and coats of arms. The Saint Robert Abbey Church wall walk is a kind of indoor balcony linking the two spires on the facade. The medieval town grew up around the imposing granite abbey. The medieval facades and houses in the little streets always delight visitors, and the town has plenty of surprises in store.
Lakes around the village
Local associations run two railway lines that are open in summer: the panoramic Agrivap train from Ambert from the Puy-De-Dôme side and the Haut-Forez railway from Estivareilles near the Loire. The trains run every Sunday from June to September, as well as on some weekdays in July and August.