©Olliergues|Benjamin Vallet

Culture and heritage

For aficionados of culture and heritage, the Livradois offers a wide choice of riches to discover. From the meticulous art of Arlanc lacemaking, to the honed heritage of Thiers cutlery, to contemporary expression at Le Creux de l’Enfer, the Livradois is an invitation to discovery for anyone interested in cultural diversity and historical heritage.

Discover Moulin Richard de Bas, the historical paper museum

The Richard de Bas paper mill is a hidden treasure nestled in the heart of the Dore valley. This mill stands as the oldest in France, a living monument that has stood the test of time. Just imagine that in the 17th century, this valley was dotted with almost 400 mills, makingAmbert a nerve center of the paper industry.

This profusion of mills not only sculpted Ambert’s economic and cultural importance, but also shaped the very identity of the region. Today, the Moulin Richard de Bas stands out as the sole survivor of this bygone era.

The architecture of the Moulin Richard de Bas, with its large wooden wheel powering the manufacturing process, is an engineering masterpiece of the past. The simplicity of the structure testifies to the region’s rich rural heritage. Despite the advent of modern techniques towards the end of the 18th century, the mill has preserved its original mechanism. It thus offers visitors an authentic immersion in the art of ancient papermaking.

Today, the mill is not only a historic site, it’s a center for the celebration of old-fashioned papermaking, using techniques that honor time and craftsmanship. The Ferris wheel still turns, powered by the waters of the stream, and visitors are invited to take part in workshops to create their own sheet of paper, perpetuating the paper-making tradition. With 40,000 visitors a year, the Moulin Richard de Bas remains a place of learning and discovery, a gateway to a world where past and present meet in harmony.

Explore the Gothic treasure trove of the Abbaye de la Chaise-Dieu

TheAbbaye de la Chaise-Dieu is a sanctuary of history and spirituality in the heart of the Auvergne. It’s a must-see for visitors to the Livradois-Forez Regional Nature Park.

Founded on the ruins of theCasa Dei monastery in the Middle Ages, the abbey has become a symbol of the region’s cultural and spiritual wealth. The village of La Chaise-Dieu, though small in size, is large in heritage.

As you approach theAbbaye de la Chaise-Dieu, you’ll be immediately struck by the scale of its Gothic architecture, reflecting the grandeur of the medieval era. The Abbey is home to such treasures as the tomb of Pope Clement VI and the unique Danse Macabre, with its 144 carved oak stalls.

The Abbey’s interior is dominated by majestic organs, restored to sublimate the Abbey’s sacred music and artistic history. In fact, these instruments are at the heart of the Festival de La Chaise-Dieu, an event dedicated to sacred and classical music.

La Chaise-Dieu Abbey is also home to precious Flemish tapestries, testifying to the finesse of 16th-century Flemish art. After a delicate restoration, they are now on display in a refurbished space that respects their historical importance while meeting today’s conservation needs.

Stroll through Thiers, capital of French cutlery

Thiers is known as the international capital of cutlery. It’s a town steeped in tradition dating back over seven hundred years, located in the Durolle Valley. The historic heart of Thiers, with its steep medieval streets and ancient buildings, is steeped in the charm of yesteryear. The town’s characteristic vaulted passageways lead strollers through a labyrinth of artisanal stores.

A must-see first stop is the Musée de la Coutellerie. The history of knife-making is told through exhibitions and demonstrations by expert craftsmen. Featuring an impressive collection of knives, from the most traditional to the most modern, this museum highlights the evolution of the cutler’s craft and Thiers’ importance in this field through the ages.

For those wishing to experience the craft of cutlery in a more hands-on way, you can take part in a knife-making workshop. It’s an opportunity not to be missed! Establishments such as Inserfac or Robert David Cutlery offer sessions where participants can assemble and personalize their own knife. These workshops allow participants to discover the creative process, from polishing to engraving.

It’s an opportunity to take home a unique and personal souvenir.

A visit to Thiers would not be complete without a stroll through the Vallée des Rouets. This walk offers an insight into the historic use of the Durolle ‘s hydraulic power for watermills. They bear witness to the region’sancient cutlery industry. For lovers of nature and history, the “De l’enfer aux rouets” hike is an adventure where natural landscapes mingle with industrial remains.

Arlanc lace, a renowned ancestral technique

Located in the heart of the charming town ofArlanc, this museum, housed in the vaulted rooms on the garden level of the Hôtel de Ville, reveals the finesse and elegance of Arlanc lace. Through three exhibition rooms, the museum takes visitors on a journey through the world of lace, from spindle toneedle, and reveals the dexterity of the lacemakers.

Arlanc lace has been made in this region for centuries. With over 500 pieces in its permanent collection, the Musée de la Dentelle d’Arlanc showcases a wide range of laces. You’ll discover both manual work and contemporary industrial production. Demonstrations of a mechanical lace loom, still in working order, illustrate the evolution of lacemaking in Arlanc. They underline the transition to more industrial production without losing the essence of craftsmanship.

The museum doesn’t just show the finished creations; it also offers an insight into the manufacturing process through video montages and didactic panels. Visitors can see the difference between square and needle lace, or between Venetian and Esprit stitches.

Contemporary art unveiled at Le Creux de l'Enfer in Thiers

Le Creux de l’Enfer is located in a former cutlery factory, closed in 1956, which has been transformed into a center for contemporary art. Since its inauguration in 1988, Le Creux de l’Enfer has borne witness to France’s policy of cultural decentralization, reflecting a commitment to art and culture outside traditional metropolises. Labelled a“Centre d’art contemporain d’intérêt national” by the French Ministry of Culture in 2019, Le Creux de l’En fer stands out as a pillar of the regional and national art scene. This official recognition underscores the excellence of its exhibitions, its educational programs, and its ability to forge links between artists and local know-how.

The extension of Le Creux de l’Enfer, with the acquisition of theUsine du May, enables us to expand our exhibition space and enrich our cultural offering. This architectural development enables us to develop ambitious new artistic projects and a wide range of shared experiences with the public. Each exhibition, workshop and conference invites reflection on art and its role in society. This venue is a must for art lovers and the curious of all backgrounds.

Right now, you can discover the work of Benoit-Marie Moriceau with the exhibition “Stellar song, please don’t take my sunshine away“.