Monasteries in France

Escaladieu Abbey

Escaladieu Abbey was a Cistercian abbey located in the French commune of Bonnemazon. Its name derives from the Latin Scala Dei ('ladder of God'). The abbey was founded in 1142 and became an important pilgrimage stop on the Way of St. James en route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The abbey is situated at the confluence of the Luz and the Arros rivers near the Château de Mauvezin ...
Founded: 1142 | Location: Bonnemazon, France

Lessay Abbey

It is not exactly known when the Abbaye de Sainte-Trinité in Lessay was established; other historians date it to 1056, Cologne University to 1105. The vaults of the church, built around 1100 are however probably the oldest in Normandy. The abbey flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries, but during the Hundred Years' War in 1356 it was burned and looted. The nave and tower were badly damaged and restored in 1385. Lessay ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Lessay, France

La Chartreuse de Neuville

The Chartreuse Notre-Dame des Prés was a Carthusian monastery (Charterhouse) in northern France, at Neuville-sous-Montreuil. The charter of foundation is dated from the chateau d"Hardelot on 15 July 1324; the church was consecrated in 1338. The foundation, being close to Calais, was liable to disturbance in time of war. Thus it was often sacked by the English during the wars of the fourteenth and fifteenth cent ...
Founded: 1324 | Location: Neuville-sous-Montreuil, France

Saint-Mihiel Abbey

Saint-Mihiel Abbey is an ancient Benedictine abbey situated in the town of Saint-Mihiel, near Verdun. The benedictine abbey was built in 708 or 709 by a Count Wulfoalde and his wife Adalsinde, probably to house the relics that Wulfoalde had brought back from Italy. It was dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel, a popular saint at the time, as can be testified by the establishment of the abbeys of Mont St Michel in Norm ...
Founded: 708-709 AD | Location: Saint-Mihiel, 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

Abbaye Blanche

The Abbaye Blanche ('White Abbey'), was a nunnery founded in 1112 in Mortain. Shortly after establishing an abbey for men called Holy Trinity of Savigny, Saint Vitalis, founder of the monastic order of Savigny, set up the Abbaye Blanche for women. The church is built on a Latin cross floorplan of a central nave and a wide transept. The style is Early Gothic, though unfortunately only the chapter house, cellar an ...
Founded: 1112 | Location: Mortain, France

Abbey of Saint-Savin-en-Lavedan

The Abbey of Saint-Savin-en-Lavedan was a Benedictine abbey in the commune of Saint-Savin and one of the most important religious centres in the County of Bigorre. The abbey dates at least from the 10th century, and it was built by order of Charlemagne on the site of an ancient Gallo-Roman fortress. In 841, the abbey was looted and burnt by the Normans, and previously by the Saracens. In 945, Count Raymond I ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Saint-Savin, France

Saint-Michel de Grandmont Priory

Saint-Michel de Grandmont Priory was built in the 12th century and is one of the best-preserved of the 160 Grandmontine monasteries. It is a religious order, founded by Étienne of Thiers, son of Viscount of Thiers from the Auvergne. It was known to be one of the strictest, and austere orders of the Middle Ages. There was no hierarchy, with no archives, and no heating. The monks walked with bare feet, in perpetual silenc ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Saint-Privat, 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

Cassan Abbey

The Augustinian priory here was founded in 1080, on land donated by the Alquier noble family of Béziers.  A new church was consecrated in 1115. Numerous relics were collected by the abbey and it served as cemetery to the nobility of the region. The lands owned by the priory extended to 75 villages. Pope Innocent III in the context of the crusade against the Cathars exempted the priory from control by the bishops of Béz ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Roujan, France

Bonneval Abbey

Bonneval Abbey was founded as a monastery of Cistercian monks in Le Cayrol. Bonneval Abbey was founded in 1147 by Cistercian monks from Mazan Abbey, in Rouergue. Its name means 'good valley', a typical Cistercian name. Bonneval quickly became a rich and powerful abbey, owning extensive estates throughout the country. In the mid-14th century it suffered from the Black Death and underwent much damage and loss ...
Founded: 1147 | Location: Le Cayrol, France

Montivilliers Abbey

The Abbey Church of Notre-Dame, sometimes referred to as 'Montivilliers Abbey' dates back to 684, although it was destroyed a Viking raid in 850, and rebuilt as a church in both the Romanesque and Gothic styles. It fell into decline by the late 1700's. Its decline went up to the French revolution at the end of the 18th century when it was closed and sold. Fortunately the abbey was not destroyed and was later bought back b ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Montivilliers, France

Lonlay Abbey

Founded in c. 1020 by Guillaume de Bellême known as 'Talvas', Lonlay Abbey was originally occupied by the monks of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire. Interpolated between the Gothic choir and porch, there are no more remains of the Romanesque edifice than the transept whose lower and middle sections show some signs of fishbone bonding, and date back to the end of the 11th century or beginning of the 12th centur ...
Founded: c. 1020 | Location: Lonlay-l'Abbaye, France

Blasimon Abbey

Blasimon Benedictine abbey was founded in the 10th century. The 12th century church is still standing, restored in the 15th and 16th century. In the past, monks dug ditches fill with river Gamage"s water, surrounding the abbey. These ditches transformed the abbey to a stronghold. Unfortunately, the French Revolution damaged the abbey and today it is ruined.
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Blasimon, France

Arthous Abbey

Arthous Abbey (formerly known as the Abbey of St. Mary of Arthous) was founded in 1167 in a deserted area bordering the Basque Country. The abbey belongs to the Order of Premonsterians.  The abbey was badly damaged due to religious wars in the 16th century. In particular, the Huguenots burned the choir of the church and canonical buildings in 1571, and the archives were eradicated. The abbey church was built in a late ...
Founded: 1167 | Location: Hastingues, 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 vassal of ...
Founded: 1034 | Location: Pontlevoy, France

Chéhéry Abbey

Chéhéry Abbey was founded in the mid-12th century and it grew larger in the 14th century. It was devastated several times in the wars of 15-17th century and the whole monastery was rebuilt in 1750s and dissolved in 1791.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Châtel-Chéhéry, France

Saorge Monastery

Saorge was a stronghold of strategic significance defending the road between Nice and Turin via the Col de Tende mountain pass. Recollect Franciscan monks founded a monastery there in 1633, at the time of the Catholic Reformation. Today it overlooks the village and waterfalls of La Roya at the gateway to Mercantour. The cloister and the refectory contain examples of exceptional painted decoration dating from the 17th and ...
Founded: 1633 | Location: Saorge, France

Lucq de Béarn Abbey

The town of Lucq-de-Béarn developed in the tenth century around the Abbey of Saint Vincent, founded around 970 AD. It has a great reputation at the end of the thirteenth century by hosting several times the King of England Edward I and part of his court came to settle a conflict between the kings of France and Aragon. This charming little medieval village has also suffered religious wars which it will be very difficult t ...
Founded: c. 970 AD | Location: Lucq-de-Béarn, France

Fontcaude Abbey

The Abbaye de Fontcaude is a 12th century abbey in Cazedarnes, 20 km from Beziers. Ruined after the Revolution, the abbay has been an amazing restoration. It now offers its looks roman abbey, cloister, oil mill, museum of Gothic sculptures and a bell foundry from 12th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Cazedarnes, 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.