view of the cloister garden of Aubazine Abbey through stone arcades

What is the link between an abbey, a canal, Cistercian monks and Coco Chanel? Aubazine, obviously and one of our major sightseeing sites nearby from Brive-La-Gaillarde. 

Located on a rocky spur overlooking the Corrèze river between Brive and Tulle, Aubazine is a village with a picturesque and unique heritage dating from the 12th century, including an abbey, an abbey church and also a canal built on the cliffside by monks. Go meet them, you won't regret it!

Aubazine: gaillard and responsible destination!

  1. Explore theCistercian abbey and its flowery cloister where there is a fountain which was brought by 60 oxen. Absolutely gaillard!
  2. Enter the abbey church to observe its 12th century liturgical cabinet, its entombment, its grisaille stained glass windows which inspired Miss Chanel, oh my !
  3. Visit the Cistercian museum space located in the old presbytery to learn about the history of the double monastery of Obazine and Coyroux.
  4. Explore the Monks Canal, a true work of art, offering magnificent panoramas while respecting the surrounding nature. In short, be responsible!

Aubazine Abbey

Aubazine is an abbey like no other! In 1125, Saint Stephen of Obazine founded a hermitage which became a Cistercian monastery with 300 religious in the 17th century. These monks live off the products of the different barns they built in Limousin and Quercy. The abbey was then abolished during the Revolution.

In 1860, it became an orphanage run by the nuns of Saint-Cœur-de-Marie. During the Second World War, young Jewish women and girls were hidden there.

Since 1965, nuns of the Resurrection (a church of Byzantine tradition attached to Rome) have maintained the premises and shown them around.

View of the garden of Aubazine Abbey

The Monks canal

This magnificent work of art was also created in the twelfth century by the monks and was then used to turn the mills, supply water to fishponds and convent buildings. It draws its water upstream, from the Coiroux stream, then routes it towards Aubazine following the rocky side of the valley. The sometimes perilous topography of the place makes this canal a unique construction with exceptional know-how. Classified as a Historic Monument in 1965, it was renovated in 2010. Let yourself be tempted by this 1,5 km walk. Be careful, bring good shoes!

View in the forest on the Moines d'Aubazine canal

Coco Chanel in Aubazine

It was in Aubazine that the famous Coco Chanel grew up. Gabrielle Chanel was placed in an orphanage at the age of 12 and remained there until she was 18. The future stylist learned sewing there. She later took inspiration from the places for her creations: the black and white colors of the clothes worn by the sisters and the beige of the walls. The two intertwined letters “C” of its logo are inspired by the stained glass windows of the abbey church.

In 2020, on the occasion of a haute couture fashion show, the house of Chanel paid homage to the abbey by reconstituting its cloister almost identically under the glass roof of the Grand Palais in Paris. So chic!

Large white on a stained glass window in the Aubazine abbey church

Hiking in Aubazine

What if you left the heart of Aubazine to discover what is hidden around it? For this, three hiking trails are available to you:

  • Along the Coiroux to the Monks Canal (9,4 km).
  • The circuit of the monasteries, from Aubazine to the remains of the female monastery of Coyroux (4,3 km).
  • From Puy Pauliac and its orientation table to the Monks Canal (9,4 km).

As a family, try the geocaching experience with the “Obazine, in the time of the monasteries” hiking trail of Terra Aventura. 5km course.

Pratical information

Where is Aubazine located?

The village of Aubazine is halfway between Brive and Tulle, along the D1089. It takes about 20 minutes to travel from Brive.

Visit Aubazine Abbey and the Monks Canal

Visits without reservation for the abbey. Information (opening hours and prices) on the Official website and by phone +33 5 55 87 39 52.  

Free access all year round to the Monks Canal. Commented walks are organized during the summer period.

What to see around Aubazine

  • Le Coiroux lake (leisure complex with swimming sessions authorized in July-August) and the Coiroux golf course located at the edge of the lake (open all year round).
  • The Pans de Travassac in Donzenac, a unique site in Europe. It is the only slate quarry still in operation today and which, among other things, covered the roof of the Mont-Saint-Michel basilica.
  • Swimming at Miel Lake 
  • La Caesar Tower of Allassac 

Our tip Following the footsteps of Coco Chanel

View of the abbey church and the rest of Aubazine Abbey from the cloister garden

When the building goes, everything goes! This could have been the motto of the Cistercians, tireless building monks between the 11th and 13th centuries. In Aubazine as elsewhere, they could not help but give in to their guilty pleasure: building an abbey. It was in this abbey transformed into an orphanage that Coco Chanel lived between the ages of 12 and 18. You who contemplate the stained glass windows of the church, don't you see there like two intertwined C's? Yes, that’s right, my friend. But other details evoke the creations of the great stylist. It's up to you to discover them while you walk around.

Aubazine Abbey,
19190 Aubazine
05 55 87 39 52

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