Every then and again, we will take a Sunday drive (sometimes even on a Saturday) out into the country, which for a person in the 31 means the Gers. Often we would head towards Condom (insert your own, um, joke) or Larressingle and pick up a bottle of armagnac. On the way, we would go through the small town (they’re seemingly all small in the Gers) of Valence-sur-Baise, home to the Abbaye de Flaran.
Every time we drove past it, I thought that it looked like an interesting place (even though you can’t see much from the road), but we had never stopped to check it out. And so it was that one bright Sunday – or maybe it was a Saturday – we decided to make the short (1h10m) drive to the abbey.
‘Twas time well spent.
Turns out the abbey is the number one tourist destination in the Gers. As we Americans might say” Who’d a-thunk it?
The abbey, built in 1151, was home to an order of Cistercian monks and it stayed with them until the Revolution. Then it passed from person to person before ending up with the Gers departement in 1972 and opened to the public.
But what really makes the place stand out is its series of rotating art exhibitions. When we were there, we saw sculptures by Dali and Renoir, sketches by Picasso, and paintings by Matisse, Turner, Renoir and more. Alas, they didn’t permit cameras in the gallery or I could have shown you an incredible piece by Dali of a chicken’s head on a donkey’s body, scaled for size of course.
Still, it was a great way to spend a Sunday (or was it a Saturday?) afternoon.
Afterward, we stopped in Valence and saw some sheer cliffs acting as the town’s defense and strolled through the main square.
For more photos, click on Abbaye photos.