Monasteries in 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

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

Saint-Gabriel Priory

The Priory of Saint-Gabriel (Prieuré de Saint-Gabriel) was founded in 1058 to serve the ambitions of the Count of Creully and to stretch the prestige of Fécamp Abbey. The monastery was closed down in 1674 sold to State after Revolution. The priory comprises an entrance porch, a former refectory, a tower and a court room. Today it houses the horticulture and landscaped gardening school and boasts a rose garde ...
Founded: 1058 | Location: Saint-Gabriel-Brécy, France

Saint-Roman Cave Abbey

The Abbey of Saint-Roman is a cave monastery which includes the ruins of a castle (château de Saint-Roman-d"Aiguille), a chapel, cloisters, terrace, tombs and walls. It was constructed in the 9th, 10th, 12th and 15th centuries. The abbey is reached by a signposted path from Beaucaire which leads past a vast chamber and the monks’ cells to the chapel carved out of the rock which contains the tomb of St Ro ...
Founded: 9th century | Location: Beaucaire, France

Monastery of Chartreuse St. Sauveur

The monastery of Chartreuse St Sauveur, listed monument and unmissable site in the region, is a 15th century flamboyant Gothic masterpiece. During the visit you will discover the great cloister, one of the biggest in France, the small cloister, flamboyant Gothic masterpiece, and the chapel. Built on the edge of the town between 1451 and 1459 thanks to the legacy of a rich cloth merchant from Villefranche, Vezian Valette, ...
Founded: 1451 | Location: Villefranche-de-Rouergue, France

Redon Abbey

Redon Abbey (Abbaye Saint-Sauveur de Redon) is a former Benedictine abbey founded in 832 by Saint Conwoïon. Both Count Ricwin of Nantes and Raginarius (Rainer), Bishop of Vannes, refused at first to support the new foundation, and influenced the Emperor Louis the Pious against it. In 834 however the new monastery gained the patronage of Nominoe, princeps and later the first Duke of Brittany, as evidenced by his chart ...
Founded: 832 AD | Location: Redon, France

Abbey of Saint Bertin

The Abbey of St. Bertin was a Benedictine abbey, but today in ruins (the town's town-hall was built with stone from the abbey in 1834) and open to the public. It was dedicated to its second abbot, Saint Bertin. The monastery was founded on the banks of the Aa in the 7th century by the bishop of Thérouanne, who sent the monks Bertin, Momelin and Ebertram from Omer to proselytize among the pagans in the region. The Abbey ...
Founded: 7th century AD | Location: Saint-Omer, France

Ardenne Abbey

Ardenne is the third largest abbey in Caen region. It was founded in 1121 by a small Christian community. During the 1789 Revolution, the religious community was expelled from Ardenne Abbey, the building"s original purpose was modified and it was stripped of the furniture and works of art which had been collected. On 7 June 1944, the second day of Normandy Invasion, the Germans took Canadian soldiers prisoner and es ...
Founded: 1121 | Location: Saint-Germain-la-Blanche-Herbe, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kisimul Castle

Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.

Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.

The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.