Monasteries in France

Valmagne Abbey

Valmagne Abbey was founded in 1138 by Raymond Trencavel, Vicomte de Béziers. Valmagne then experienced a time of rapid growth as local landowners bestowed both land and money on the monastery. The buildings were extended and a vineyard of 5 hectares was established by the monks. From the 12th century to the beginning of the 14th century, Valmagne was one of the richest monasteries in southern France and at its peak was ...
Founded: 1138 | Location: Villeveyrac, France

St. Vigor Abbey Church

The St. Vigor abbey (Saint-Vigor de Cerisy-la-Forêt) was founded in 1032 by Duke Robert the Magnificent. It inherited the remote site of a small religious establishment founded at the beginning of the 6th century by St Vigor, Bishop of Bayeux, and destroyed by the Scandinavian invasions; the Benedictines thus restored, as at Saint-Marcouf or Orval, a religious continuity after this interruption. Nothing now survives ...
Founded: 1032 | Location: Cerisy-la-Forêt, France

Saint-Vincent Abbey

The former Benedictine abbey of Saint-Vincent was founded in the 10th century. The abbey church, rebuilt in 1248 and consecrated in 1376, is a superb example of Gothic architecture. After the Revolution, which marked the end of the abbey, the church became a parish church and then a basilica in 1933.
Founded: 1248 | Location: Metz, France

Chaalis Abbey Ruins

Chaalis Abbey was a French Cistercian abbey north of Paris, at Fontaine-Chaalis, near Ermenonville, now in Oise. It was founded in 1136 by Louis VI of France. There had previously been a Benedictine monastery in the same place. Most of the buildings fell into ruins thanks to mismanagement on the part of the commendatory abbots. Among the ruins, a chapel with important frescos by Primaticcio survives intact. For Lou ...
Founded: 1136 | Location: Fontaine-Chaalis, France

Landévennec Abbey Ruins

Landévennec Abbey (Abbaye de Landévennec) was a monastery now in Finistère. It existed from its foundation at Landévennec, traditionally by Winwaloe in the late fifth century, to 1793, when the monastery was abandoned and sold. In 1950 it was bought and rebuilt by the Benedictines of Kerbénéat. It became a Benedictine foundation in the eighth century. It was attacked and burned by ...
Founded: 482 AD | Location: Finistère, France

Vaux-de-Cernay Abbey

Vaux-de-Cernay Abbey was founded in 1118 when Simon de Neauffle and his wife Eve donated the land for this foundation to the monks of Savigny Abbey, in order to have a monastery built in honour of the Mother of God and Saint John the Baptist. Vital, Abbot of Savigny, accepted their offer, and sent a group of monks under the direction of Arnaud, who became their first abbot. Besides the founders, others of the nobility cam ...
Founded: 1118 | Location: Cernay-la-Ville, France

Abbey of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa

The abbey of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa origins lie at Sant Andreu d’Eixalada. It was founded by the Benedictines in about 840 AD. In the autumn of 878, the river broke its banks, flooding and destroying the monastery forcing the monks to seek refuge in the surrounding countryside. The community then transferred to Cuixà, a minor cenobitic community dedicated to Saint Germanus, led by Father Protasius. In June 879, ...
Founded: 879 AD | Location: Codalet, France

Bec Abbey

Bec Abbey (Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec) was once the most influential abbey in the Anglo-Norman kingdom. The abbey was founded in 1034 by Herluin, a Norman knight who in about 1031 left the court of Gilbert, Count of Brionne, to devote himself to a life of religion: the commune of Le Bec Hellouin preserves his name. 136 monks made their profession while Herluin was in charge. With the arrival of Lanfranc of Pavia, Bec becam ...
Founded: 1034 | Location: Le Bec-Hellouin, France

Saint-Papoul Abbey Church

Situated on the eastern side of the Pays Lauragais, the ancient fortified city of Saint Papoul has conserved its medieval style with its lanes of half-timbered houses. The abbey is to one side of the village, at its southern entrance. Founded during the 8th century, the Benedictine Abbey is closely linked to the figure of Saint Papoul. This evangelist of the Lauragais, a disciple of Saint Sernin, Toulouse"s first bi ...
Founded: 8th century | Location: Saint-Papoul, France

Bernay Abbey Church

Bernay Abbey (Notre-Dame de Bernay) was established in the first decade of the 11th century by Judith of Brittany who devoted part of the marriage settlement from her husband, Richard II, Duke of Normandy, to its construction. The latter entrusted the completion of the abbey to the Italian, William of Volpiano (died 1028), who reformed the monastery of Fécamp to which he had been called in 1001. After a period of d ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Bernay, France

Collobrieres Monastery

La Chartreuse de la Verne, Carthusian monastery in Collobrieres, was built in 1174, however in 1264 and 1271 it was burned down. It wasn"t until the sixteenth century that the present chapel and the great south gate were built. The current Chartreuse is a lovely and imposing set of buildings, completely isolated in a hilly forest of pine, oak and chestnut, overlooking the artificial lake, Lac de la Verne. The driv ...
Founded: 1174 | Location: Collobrieres, France

Abbaye de Noirlac

The Cistercian Abbaye de Noirlac, founded in 1136, is a fine example of medieval monastic architecture. The chapter house, where the monks’ daily assemblies were held, and the cellier, where the lay brothers were in charge of the food, wine and grain stores, were built in plain but elegant style. The cloisters, with their graceful arches and decorated capitals, date from the 13th and 14th centuries, which was a less ...
Founded: 1136 | Location: Bruère-Allichamps, France

Fontenelle Abbey

Fontenelle Abbey was founded by Wandregisel or Saint Wandrille (died 668) on land obtained through the influence of Wandregisel"s friend Saint Ouen, Archbishop of Rouen. Saint Wandrille held a high position at the court of his king, Dagobert I, but wishing to devote his life to God, he retired to the abbey of Montfaucon, in Champagne, in 629. In 648 he returned to Normandy and established the monastery of Fontenelle; ...
Founded: 649 AD | Location: Saint-Wandrille-Rançon, France

Villelongue Abbey

The Villelongue Cistercian monastery was first established on the lands of the neighbouring county of Saissac, before being transferred to its present location, around the 12th century: a donation was granted in 1149 to the Cistercian Order, and to Guillaume, a monk who came, with 12 companions, from the abbey of Bonnefont de Comminges. Construction of the monastery began in 1180. At the beginning of the 13th century, Si ...
Founded: 1180 | Location: Saint-Martin-le-Vieil, France

St. Mary's Abbey

Arles-sur-Tech is best known for its abbey, which allegedly holds the relics of Saints Abdon and Sennen in a sarcophagus called Sainte Tombe, traditionally believed to have been brought from Rome 10th century. Its waters are traditionally believed to hold miraculous healing properties. The Benedictine abbey of Sainte-Marie was founded in 778 and is the oldest Carolingian abbey in Catalonia. The main square contains the h ...
Founded: 778 AD | Location: Arles-sur-Tech, France

St. Taurin's Abbey Church

Founded in the 10th century by Richard sans Peur (Richard the Fearless), duke of Normandy, the St. Taurin"s abbey church was built on the suspicious spot of St. Taurin grave, the first bishop and evangelizer of Evreux. During the Hundred Years" War the abbey was burnt down. It was left to decay and the last monks were banished during the Revolution. The former Benedictine abbey church became a parish church. The ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Évreux, France

Sarrance Monastery

Sarrance Monastery belonged to the Betharram Fathers who had replaced the Premonstratensians who left after the French Revolution. The Premonstratensian order founded their monastery in this place in 1345, the site of a Marian pilgrimage dating from the 12th century. They maintained religious services in this place, served the parish and welcomed pilgrims and travellers on the Roman road to Santiago de Compostela.
Founded: 1345 | Location: Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France

Ronceray Abbey

Situated on the northern side of the city, across the River Maine from the main old town area of the city, this delightful abbey is one of the most historic ecclesiastical buildings in the area and a fine example of Anjou architecture. The building has for many centuries served as a place of worship and religious observance. The structure has benefited from a series of overhauls in the last few hundred years, making it a ...
Founded: 1060-1119 | Location: Angers, France

Hambye Abbey Ruins

Located in the Normandy countryside, near from the Mont Saint-Michel, the Abbey of Notre Dame of Hambye was founded around 1145 by William Painel, Lord of Hambye, and Algare, bishop of Coutances. The monastery was established by a group of Benedictine monks from Tiron (Perche region in south-east of Basse-Normandie). Fueled by an ideal of rigor and austerity close to that of Cistercians, Benedictine monks built a sober an ...
Founded: c. 1145 | Location: Hambye, France

Paimpont Abbey

Paimpont Abbey was originally built by the King of Dumnonia in the 7th century, probably around 630 AD. It was destroyed by Vikings in the 9th century. The construction of current abbey building was started in 1199. The present buildings are works from the 11th, 13th, 15th and 17th century. Paimpont Abbey was closed down during the Great Revolution in 1790, but several buildings have survived. The Abbey is home to many fi ...
Founded: 1199 | Location: Ille-et-Vilaine, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château d'Olhain

The Château d'Olhain is probably the most famous castle of the Artois region. It is located in the middle of a lake which reflects its picturesque towers and curtain walls. It was also a major stronghold for the Artois in medieval times and testimony to the power of the Olhain family, first mentioned from the 12th century.

The existence of the castle was known early in the 13th century, but the present construction is largely the work of Jean de Nielles, who married Marie d’Olhain at the end of the 15th century.

The marriage of Alix Nielles to Jean de Berghes, Grand Veneur de France (master of hounds) to the King, meant the castle passed to this family, who kept it for more than 450 years. Once confiscated by Charles Quint, it suffered during the wars that ravaged the Artois. Besieged in 1641 by the French, it was partly demolished by the Spaniards in 1654, and finally blown-up and taken by the Dutch in 1710. Restored in 1830, it was abandoned after 1870, and sold by the last Prince of Berghes in 1900. There is also evidence that one of the castles occupants was related to Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, the person Alexandre Dumas based his Three Musketeers charictor d'Artagnan on.

During the World War I and World War II, the castle was requisitioned first by French troops, then Canadian and British soldiers. The current owner has restored the castle to its former glory.