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The monastery of Ganagobie The French Alps

If you are passing through the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, if you like history, the Middle Ages and religious architecture, or if you are simply curious, don't miss the monastery of Ganagobie.

The medieval priory

 Ganagobie Abbey is a haven of peace built in the late 10th century by the Bishop of Sisteron, who donated it to the Cluny order in 965. Having become a priory, the monastery prospered for centuries but was badly damaged during the wars of religion at the end of the 16th century. Restored in the 17th century, the priory slowly died out until its secularisation in 1788 and the partial destruction of the buildings in 1794. In ruins, it was not until 1891 that the Benedictine monks who inherited the church and refectory were cleared and the cloister restored. The exceptional medieval mosaics were rediscovered in 1898, but it was not until 1953 that the restoration work really began and was completed in 1992. It was at this time that the community of monks of "Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Marseille" settled in Ganagobie.

How to get to Ganagobie Abbey

 To get there, don't go through the village of Ganagobie, in fact a huge sign reminds you of this at the crossroads. Note that most GPS systems do not guide you correctly. A little further on, a winding and narrow road climbs up the plateau to a large car park bordered by lavender fields. From here, a perfectly marked path leads you to the abbey.

The abbey church of Ganagobie priory


The Romanesque portal of the monastery of Ganagobie

 The originality of the Romanesque portal immediately catches the visitor's attention. In a mandorla, Christ is represented in majesty surrounded by the symbols of the four evangelists. The lintel, also carved in bas-relief, shows the twelve apostles. Although we do not know the exact date of its creation, it was probably carved in the 11th century.


The abbey church and the medieval mosaics

 Only the abbey church is open to the public outside of ceremony hours. Like many churches, time and various restorations have taken their toll. However, the layout of the church has changed little since the 12th century and still follows the canons of Provençal Romanesque architecture. What makes the abbey church of the Ganagobie monastery exceptional are its mosaics. A masterpiece of Romanesque art, rarely preserved elsewhere, the mosaics still cover 72m² and are in a remarkable state of preservation.

Walk around the abbey of Ganagobie

 From the old priory, if you have time, join the GR653D which is also the Monticelli path that leads to the village of Ganagobie. At the crossroads, take the direction of the oppidum of Villevieille and return to the monastery. It is an easy 4km loop and about 1h30 walk on the plateau.

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