Monasteries in 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

Abbey of Saint-Georges

Saint-Georges de Boscherville Abbey is a former Benedictine abbey. It was founded in about 1113 by Guillaume de Tancarville on the site of an earlier establishment of secular canons and settled by monks from the Abbey of Saint-Evroul. The abbey church made of Caumont stone was erected from 1113 to 1140. The Norman builders aimed to have very well-lit naves and they did this by means of tall, large windows, initially made ...
Founded: 1113 | Location: Saint-Martin-de-Boscherville, France

Bonport Abbey

The abbey of our Lady of Bonport was founded in 1189 by Richard the Lionheart, King of England and Duke of Normandy. According to legend, the King was in peril on the river Seine and made a vow that if he arrived safely (in French à Bonport) on the other bank of the river, he would found a monastery on that side. The abbey was built shortly afterwards with the help of local lords and was damaged and restored severa ...
Founded: 1189 | Location: Pont-de-l'Arche, France

Clairmarais Abbey Ruins

Clairmarais owes its origin to the famous Cistercian abbey founded by St. Bernard in 1140. He gave the village the name of Claromarisco (later to be Clarus Mariscus and then Clermarez) because of the huge marshes and many rivers in the vicinity. The Dutch Klaarmares and West Flemish Cleremeersch names reflect the nature of the terrain, too. Clairmarais became a fully-fledged common in 1790 when the abbey was going to be d ...
Founded: 1140 | Location: Clairmarais, France

Bon-Repos Abbey

The Bon-Repos Abbey was founded by Viscount Alain III de Rohan in c. 1184. According to legend, he was asked to build it by the Virgin Mary; she appeared to him in a dream when he fell asleep on this spot after a hard day’s hunting in the Quénécan Forest. After a tumultuous history, which included being burnt down by the Chouans (Royalists) in 1795, the abbey fell into ruin until it was rescued in 1986 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Saint-Gelven, France

Abbey of Sainte-Trinité

The Abbey of Sainte-Trinité (the Holy Trinity), also known as Abbaye aux Dames, is a former monastery of women. The complex includes the Abbey Church of Sainte-Trinité. The abbey was founded as a Benedictine monastery of nuns in the late 11th century by William the Conqueror and his wife Matilda of Flanders as the Abbaye aux Dames ('Women"s Abbey'), as well as the Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men& ...
Founded: 1062 | Location: Caen, 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

Pontlevoy Abbey

The Benedictian Abbey of Pontlevoy (Abbaye de Pontlevoy) was established in 1034. It made the town an important commercial and cultural center. A local knight named Gelduin de Chaumont founded to fulfill a vow. It is believed that Gelduin"s boat was caught in a storm on the way back from a Crusade in the Holy Land. He prayed to the Virgin for help, promising to build Her a church in Pontlevoy, which he held as a vass ...
Founded: 1034 | Location: Pontlevoy, France

Daoulas Abbey Ruins

The buildings of former Daoulas Abbey - a cloister and a 12th century font, an oratory and a monumental 16th century fountain, together with the 18th century conventual house - are an exceptional tribute to Breton art from the 10th century onwards. It was established by Guyomarch IV de Léon in 1173, but there has been at least a church since the 6th century. The former abbey was raided and looted by Vikings. Daou ...
Founded: 1173 | Location: Daoulas, France

Savigny Abbey Ruins

Savigny Abbey (Abbaye de Savigny) was founded by Vital de Mortain, who set up a hermitage in the forest of Savigny (1105). Rudolph, lord of Fougeres, confirmed to the monastery (1112) the grants he had formerly made to Vital, and from then dates the foundation of the monastery. Its growth was rapid, and Vital and Saint Aymon were canonized. In 1119 Pope Celestine II, then in Angers, took it under his immediate protection ...
Founded: 1105 | Location: Savigny-le-Vieux, 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

Marcevol Priory

Marcevol Priory is situated at an altitude of 500 metres on a plateau overlooking the Tet Valley. The Priory was built in the 12th century by the religious order of Saint Sepulchre. In 1129 the Bishop of Elne donated them the small church, as well as some surrounding out-buildings. These were monks following the rules of Saint Augustine. The Order of Saint Sepulchre was founded in 1099 after the crusades and the conquest ...
Founded: 1129 | Location: Arboussols, France

Preuilly Abbey

Preuilly Abbey, the fifth daughter house of Cîteaux Abbey, was founded in 1118 by Stephen Harding on a site provided by Theobald of Blois, Count of Champagne. The first abbot was Arthaud. The abbey soon became prosperous and founded its own daughter houses, Vauluisant Abbey (1129) and Barbeau Abbey (1148). In 1146 La Colombe Abbey, founded some years previously, joined the Cistercian Order and put itself under the s ...
Founded: 1118 | Location: Égligny, 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

Beauport Abbey Ruins

Beauport Abbey was founded by Alain I of Avaugour in 1202. The heyday of abbey was in the 13-14th centuries and the late 17th century. It was closed down and destroyed during the Great Revolution in 1790. The abbey was sold as private property in 1797 and later to the community of Kérity. The restoration began in 1992 and today it is one of the most important attractions in Brittany.
Founded: 1202 | Location: Paimpol, 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

Manoir de Brion

The Manoir de Brion, also known as the Château de Brion, is a former Benedictine priory of the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. It was founded in 1137 by the abbot Bernard du Bec. Several kings and members of the royal court stayed at the Manoir de Brion while on pilgrimage to Mont Saint-Michel, including Charles VI in 1393, Louis XI in 1462 and Francis I of France in 1532. The explorer Jacques Cartier was also presented ...
Founded: 1137 | Location: Dragey-Ronthon, France

Saint-Fromond Abbey

In 650 AD Fromond and some of his companions arrived to Brévands and established an abbey. Fromond became a bishop of Coutances he was died to the abbey in the year 690. In 871 Normans destroyed and looted the abbey. The new church was built in 1154 by Richard de Bohon, the bishop of Coutances. It was again destroyed by fire and the abbey church was rebuilt again with a massive Romanesque nave. It was demolished an ...
Founded: 1154 | Location: Saint-Fromond, 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

La Trappe Abbey

La Trappe Abbey is the house of origin of Reformed Cistercians or Trappists, to whom it gave its name. It began as a small oratory chapel to the Virgin Mary, built in 1122 by Rotrou III, Count of Perche, as a memorial to his wife Matilda (n illegitimate daughter of Henry I, who drowned in the White Ship disaster of 1120). A few years later Rotrou built a monastery adjoining, which he offered to the monks of Le Breuil-Beno ...
Founded: 1122 | Location: Soligny-la-Trappe, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Chaumont

The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.

Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.

Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.

In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.

The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.