Lavaudieu, Haute-Loire: tourism & sightseeing
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Lavaudieu is a small village seven kilomters south-east of Brioude, in the Haute-Loire department of the Auvergne region. In a pretty setting on the river Senouire, Lavaudieu is listed as one of the 'most beautiful villages of France'.
The village stands on the quiet river Sanouire river, and is clustered around the abbey, the principal attraction in the village. Lavaudieu itself is a pretty traditional village of the region, set in rolling countryside.
Parking is obligatory before you enter the village and the virtual absence of cars (locals are allowed) adds to the tranquility of the village. To enter the village walk through the large stone arch.
Stroll through the village streets, lined with stone houses and small gardens, and the main square with its 'obelisk-fountain' and then head down to the stone bridge for picturesque views along the river and to the abbey. The village has a great deal of charm and there are numerous small features to enjoy, such as ancient doors and windows, a stone archway and an old iron cross.
Just below the abbey there is a particularly pleasant spot where you can sit on the stone benches and admire the sight of the abbey and village above and the river below.
I was particularly impressed by the number and quality of the potagers (vegetable gardens) in the village. Every one was immaculately kept and still productive even though I was visiting in January! They must be fabulous in the spring/summer.
There is also a small museum in Lavaudieu, the 'museum of arts and popular traditions', which gives an insight into life in the Auvergne.
Abbey de Lavaudieu
Dating from the 11th century, the benedictine Abbey de Lavaudieu is a good example of roman architecture in the Auvergne. The outside of the church is quite modest in design except for the arcaded octagonal belltower and typical of those in the region.
Inside the church there are a good number of frescoes painted in the early 14th century, and also intricate carvings on the capital stones. Take the time to look at the frescoes individually, they are of an unusually high standard and quality and combine religious images (such as crucifixion and angels) with more 'contemporary' images such as the arrival of black death in the village.
The other main highlight in the abbey is the roman style cloisters. The lovely cloister has two levels of arches with those on the ground floor in stone (alternating one decorative column then two simple columns, the columns ach having decorative capitals) while the upper storey is much simpler and supported by a wooden structure.
Just off from the cloisters is the refectory which contains the most important fresco in the abbey complex, a very large painting of Christ, with the apostles and the Virgin on the lower part of the picture. (The abbey was also renowned for a beautiful painted woodcarving of Christ, but this is now held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.)
Lavaudieu abbey is closed to the public from late autumn to late spring.
The gorges of the Allier river pass through this region of the Haute-Loire and have many scenic highlights.
Photos of Lavaudieu
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Map of Lavaudieu and places nearby
Visit near Lavaudieu with France This Way reviews
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Tourist classifications for Lavaudieu
Lavaudieu is classified as a one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages)
Address: Lavaudieu, Brioude-Sud, Brioude, Auvergne, 43100, France || GPS: latitude 45.263, longitude 3.4547
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Basilique de Saint Julien (Brioude): religious monument (6 km)
- Abbaye Saint-Andre (Lavaudieu): religious monument (7 km)
- Massiac: village d'etape (20 km)
- Eglise de Notre Dame de Mailhat (Lamontgie): religious monument (22 km)
- Blesle: most beautiful village (23 km)
- Abbaye Saint Pierre (Blesle): religious monument (23 km)
- Eglise de Saint Georges (Saint-Paulien): religious monument (30 km)
- Usson: most beautiful village (31 km)
- Villeneuve-Lembron Chateau: national monument (32 km)
- Bois Noirs: site of natural beauty (33 km)
- Saint-Flour: recommended detour (38 km)
The French version of this page is at Lavaudieu (Francais)