Monasteries in 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

Mondaye Abbey

In the mid-12th century, a priest named Turstin withdrew to a wooded Norman hill to live as a hermit, where he was quickly joined by a circle of followers. When Turstin died in 1200, the bishop of Bayeux established the community under the Rule of St. Augustine. Turstin's brother-in-law Raoul de Percy donated land for the abbey. Over the following years, the abbey continued to receive donation from nobility and farmers. A ...
Founded: 1200 | Location: Juaye-Mondaye, 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

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

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

Mortemer Abbey Ruins

Mortemer Abbey was originally built in 1134 on land gifted to the Cistercians by Henry I of England. The stagnant water of the drainage lake, dug out by the monks to dry up the marshy land around the quick running Fouillebroc stream, was called 'dead mere', 'dead pond' - in modern French 'morte mare' - and gave the monastery its name. The monks constructed what was then one of the largest Ci ...
Founded: 1134 | Location: Lisors, France

Grestain Abbey

Grestain Abbey (Abbaye Notre-Dame de Grestain) was an 11th century Benedictine monastery. Closely associated with the family of William, Duke of Normandy, the abbey was instrumental in the Normans taking control over the Catholic Church in England in the centuries following the Norman Conquest of England, establishing new churches and priories in England, and Abbots of Grestain ordained many English priests. Many churches ...
Founded: 1050 | Location: Fatouville-Grestain, 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

Mont Saint-Eloi Abbey Ruins

On a hill overlooking Arras stand the remains of two towers which bear testament not only to the once-powerful Mont-Saint-Eloi Abbey. According to legend the abbey was established in the 7th century by Saint Vindicianus, a disciple of Saint Eligius, and by the Middle Ages it had become a powerful religious centre; however the turbulent times of the Revolution saw its walls pillaged for their stone. All that survived were ...
Founded: 600-700 AD | Location: Mont-Saint-Éloi, France

Serrabone Priory

Serrabone Priory is a former monastery of Canons Regular in the commune of Boule-d"Amont. The priory is located in a wild and beautiful area in the valley of the Boulès in the heart of an oak forest, at the centre of the Aspres mountain range. It is famous for its splendid marble rostrum from the 12th century, regarded as a masterpiece of Romanesque art. The name of the monastery derives from the Catalan serr ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Boule-d'Amont, 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

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

Saint-Evroul Abbey Ruins

The Abbey of Saint-Evroul is a former Benedictine abbey, today in ruins. Its name refers to its founder, Ebrulf (Evroul), who founded a hermitage in the forest of Ouche around 560. The abbey was rebuilt around 1000. Robert de Grantmesnil served as abbot of Saint-Evroul, which he helped restore in 1050. He had become a monk at Saint-Evroul before becoming its abbot. Orderic Vitalis entered the abbey as a young boy and late ...
Founded: c. 1000 | Location: Saint-Evroult-Notre-Dame-du-Bois, 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

Relec Abbey Ruins

The Abbaye du Relec was founded in 1132. It had an innovative hydraulic mechanism for irrigating the gardens and pumping water through the buildings. It also made a significant contribution to the local economy by developing the lands called La Quévaise. Today There is a large Romanesque church, vestiges of cloisters, two lakes, a pathway lined with trees, a monumental fountain and ancient gardens surrounded by dee ...
Founded: 1132 | Location: Plounéour-Ménez, France

Sainte-Gauburge Priory

The Sainte-Gaubuge priory was originally a hamlet, which is very well preserved. All the houses are located around the priory. The church building dates from the 13th, 15th and 18th century. The canons of St. Denis are at the origin of the most beautiful architecture sites. Rich carved decorations (13th and 15th century), the house of the prior has magnificent chimneys listed (15th century), and the vaults (13th century) ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Saint-Cyr-la-Rosière, France

Cornilly Abbey Ruins

Hervé de Donzy, the Lord of Saint Aignan established Cornilly Abbey in the 11th century. It was authorized by Pope Urbanus II in 1091. The abbey grew rapidly, but in the 1357 it was destroyed by English Black Prince troops during the Hundred Years" War. Monks rebuilt the abbey, but it was again destroyed by religious fanatics in 1562. It was not rebuilt again and in the Revolution (1789) it was moved as a nati ...
Founded: 1091 | Location: Contres, 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

Bonnefont Abbey

Bonnefont Abbey was founded in 1136 or 1137 and was a daughter monastery of Morimond Abbey. The land for monastery was donated by the Countess of Montpezat. During the French Revolution the abbey was dissolved. Today only the tower from the 15th century, the gatehouse and parts of the wing from the 13th century are preserved. The church has been completely abandoned since 1856.
Founded: 1136 | Location: Proupiary, France

Boulbonne Abbey

Boulbonne Abbey was first founded in 1129 about 14km from its current location. It was burned down and demolished during the Wars of Religion in 1567 by Huguenots. The reconstruction of the abbey on its current site started in 1632. The church was consecrated in 1742. After the French Revolution most of the buildings have disappeared, but there are still some facades, the entrance brick portal, the chapter house, ...
Founded: 1632 | Location: Cintegabelle, 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.