The village of Aubazine was constructed in the hard local pinkish gneiss, framed with the easier to work sandstone, topped with slate roofs. Construction of the two monasteries started in 1140, followed by the famed 'Canal des Moines' in 1147.
Today the abbey church and major parts of the men's monastery still stand at the center of the village. A stroll through the village reveals many 're-used elements' from the former monasteries. The former orphanage sheltered Jewish children during the WWII, and was the place where Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel spend her teens learning sewing. The ruins of the women's monastery can still be found 500 meter outside the village.
The canal was constructed to bring water to the men's monastery and is still flowing today. Flowing naturally along a 1,5 kilometers diversion of a natural stream. Following the contours of the mountain, at times hew through rocks, at others flowing through a channel 'pasted' to the rock supported by stacked walls and an arch spanning a ravine. Declared a historic monument in 1966 it is a showpiece of medieval art and engineering, and provides an enjoyable walk through an otherwise rough landscape (at points 40 meter cliffs overhang the canal) and forests.
*** Special Ecotourism Packages 2017 ***
Savouring vernacular architecture (6 – 13 September 2017 )
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