Excursion to the Abbey of Mazan and the Chauvet Caves

Yesterday, Les Tapies students once more were asked to wake up very early for another day of travel and art. On the day's itinerary were the 12th century Cistercian abbey of Mazan, and an incredible reconstruction of the Chauvet Caves, home to an incredible array of 36,000-year-old cave drawings.

Our view as we left Les Tapies at 7am:

After a sleep car journey of about an hour and a half on winding mountain roads, we reached the site on the French Massif, a region whose elevation of 1,360 metres is more than double that of Les Tapies.

Students arrived at the abbey and were given a guided tour in French, translated into English for them by photography assistant Thurston Smalley.

First occupied in the 12th century, the abbey was at one time home to over 300 people, including monks and laymen. The oldest part of the Abbey, a ruin of the original church, was in use in varying capacities until the early 20th century when the Abbey's new pastor decided the 700-year-old masterpiece of Cistercian architecture was too large and too cold for his congregation. He had the building almost completely demolished, leaving only ruins, and the congregation moved to a new church, pictured below.

Students set to work around the abbey after the tour.


At the conclusion of the visit to the Abbey of Mazan, students were taken to the Pont d'Arc for a very quick break. From there, students were taken to the nearby Chauvet Cave reconstruction.

Unfortunately, photos were forbidden inside the reconstruction - but not in the adjacent museum where students were taken after their tours.

After a very full day of travel and work, students returned to Les Tapies at around 9pm for a wonderful meal of ni├žoise salad and quesadillas. Another great end to yet another great day!