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Le mas, Harmas de Fabre © DR - MNHN

An open-air laboratory

Great scientist Jean-Henri Fabre (born 1823), a devoted naturalist famous for his observations of insects and plants, lived in this house for 36 years. The property, a mas or farmhouse set in a garden covering one hectare, was at once his “living laboratory” and home to Fabre and his family. His precious collections – seashells, fossils, minerals, herbaria, watercolours, books, documents and manuscripts – and a part of his collection of furniture can be seen here. Immerse yourself in the natural sciences as they were practised in the 19th century.

Le mas de l'Harmas © DR
Le mas, Harmas de Fabre © Philippe Gromel - MNHN

In 1879, Fabre purchased a one-hectare property at Sérignan-du-Comtat: the Harmas. He lived there until his death in 1915.

The house located on the property was built by Xavier de Dianous around 1842-1843 and was handed down to his son Alexandre. On the latter’s death, the estate became the property of his sister and brothers, but remained uninhabited for 16 years, until it was purchased by the Fabre family for 7,200 Francs of the time. Its name, “Harmas,” from the Occitan ermàs meaning “uncultivated land,” was given in reference to the 16 years during which it had been abandoned.

The Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, in an act recorded on 14 July 1922, purchased the estate from the descendants of the Fabre family.

Designated a historic monument in 1998, the Harmas was opened to the public following partial restoration in May 2006. Awarded the “Maisons des Illustres” label in 2011, the Harmas has received an ever-increasing flow of visitors since.

A new phase of work was completed in 2015 with the creation of a room to house the watercolours, renovation of the house’s main staircase, and refurbishing of the “diamond-moulding” paintwork.

Jean-Henri Fabre © DR - MNHN

Jean-Henri Fabre © DR