Religious sites in France

Valbonne Abbey

Founded by monks from the Order of Chalais, the Valbonne church was built between 1199 and 1230. It features minimalist architectural lines, typical of the order which reached its peak at this moment, before its decline and disappearance in 1303. This was a small abbey, housing a maximum of 30 monks. The simple church, now a parish church, can be visited, as well as the monastery buildings, which are very well preserved ...
Founded: 1199-1230 | Location: Valbonne, France

Lectoure Cathedral

The former Lectoure Cathedral dominates the town and the belfry tower of 1488 can be seen at a distance as the town is approached. The repairs and modifications of the cathedral go back to the 12th century. The unadorned west front erected in the 15th century has been modified through the ages, and niches above the door have all but melted away due to the fragility of the limestone. The nave was vaulted at the end of th ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lectoure, France

Le Havre Cathedral

Le Havre Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Havre) was previously a parish church dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, and is the oldest of the very few buildings in central Le Havre to have survived the devastation of World War II. It became a cathedral and the seat of the Bishop of Le Havre in 1974, when the diocese of Le Havre was created. The belltower dates from around 1520 and the main façade is ...
Founded: 1575 | Location: Le Havre, France

Holy Trinity Church

The first church in Cherbourg, built around 435 AD, was destroyed in Norman raids in 841. Wilhelm the Conqueror ordered to build a new one in the 11th century. That church suffered badly in the Hundred Years" War and the current Gothic church was built to its ruins between 1450-1466. The Holy Trinity Church was secularized and looted during the Revolution in 1794, but rebuilt in the 19th century. The Neo-Gothic tower was ...
Founded: 1450-1466 | Location: Cherbourg-Octeville, France

Alet Cathedral Ruins

The origins of this Benedictine abbey in Alet remain unknown: its foundation is attributed to Béra, the count of Razès, and his wife, Romille, in 813 A.D. but the documentary source of this information is not sure. The history of the abbey has been one of a succession of quarrels and conflict due to its strategic location: for example, in the 11th century the abbey was ravaged by the Count of Carcassonne, t ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Alet-les-Bains, France

Lisieux Cathedral

Lisieux Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Lisieux) is a former Roman Catholic cathedral, and a national monument of France. Built between 1170 and the middle of the 13th century through the initiative of Bishop Arnulf, the cathedral was the seat of the Bishop of Lisieux until the diocese of Lisieux was abolished under the Concordat of 1801 and merged into the Diocese of Bayeux. The west front of the building c ...
Founded: 1170 | Location: Lisieux, France

Saint-Génis-des-Fontaines Abbey

Saint-Génis-des-Fontaines Benedictine abbey is recorded for the first time in 819, in a document mentioning its abbot, Sentimir. Plundered and destroyed, it was rebuilt by order of King Lothair of France in 981. Later it came under the protection of the Counts of Roussillon and later of the Kings of Aragon. The abbey church was enlarged and re-consecrated in 1153. In the 13th century it gained a marble cloister on ...
Founded: 819 AD | Location: Saint-Génis-des-Fontaines, 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

St. Martin's Church

The 9th-century church houses today a superb collection of religious statues dating from the 14th century.
Founded: 9th century | Location: Angers, 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

Carcassonne Cathedral

Carcassonne Cathedral was built in the 13th century as a parish church, dedicated to Saint Michael. Following war damage in the 14th century it was rebuilt as a fortified church. In 1803 St. Michael"s was elevated to cathedral status, replacing the earlier cathedral dedicated to Saints Nazarius and Celsus, now the Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse. The cathedral plan is characterised by its relative simplicity. ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Carcassonne, France

Saint-François Xavier Church

A 'seminary for foreign missions' had been set up on rue du Bac in 1637 by Monseigneur Duval, with an accord from pope Urban VIII, during the Counter Reformation. The seminary's oratory or chapel was built between 1683 and 1689, with interior decoration by Jacques Stella, Nicolas Poussin and Simon Vouet, and it was this chapel that operated secretly as a parish church for the area during the Revolutionary era when the are ...
Founded: 1637 | Location: Paris, France

St. Peter's Church

St. Peter"s (Saint-Pierre) Church in Vienne is one of the oldest in France, dating from the 6th century. From its initial configuration it has maintained the layout of a basilica. In 1872, an archaeological museum opened presenting sculptures, mosaics and sarcophagi.
Founded: 6th century | Location: Vienne, France

Abbey of Saint-Martin-du-Canigou

The abbey of Saint-Martin-du-Canigou is located in the Pyrenees on Canigou mountain near the Spanish border. The original Romanesque style monastery was built from 1005 to 1009 by Guifred, Count of Cerdanya, in atonement for the murder of his son and was populated by Benedictine monks. In 1049, Guifred, Count of Cerdanya, died at the monastery he had built. In 1051 a messenger set forth to visit religious houses througho ...
Founded: 1005-1009 | Location: Canigou, France

Lagrasse Abbey

The Abbey of St. Mary of Lagrasse is a Romanesque Benedictine abbey whose origins date to the 7th century. Despite a legend attributing its creation to Charlemagne, the monastic community was founded in the 7th century by the abbot of Narbonne, Nimphridius, who adopted the Benedictine rule. It was elevated to the rank of abbey in 779 and enriched quickly thanks to donation from lords from the neighbourhood and the county ...
Founded: 779 AD | Location: Lagrasse, France

Lescar Cathedral

The building of Lescar Cathedral was begun in 1120 by Bishop Guy de Lons, and was sacked by the Protestants during the reign of Jeanne III of Navarre. It was restored in the 17th and 18th centuries. The apse, housing a pavement mosaic from the 12th century with hunting scenes, is in Romanesque style. In the interior, columns have capitals depicting histories of the life of Daniel, of the birth of Christ and the S ...
Founded: 1120 | Location: Lescar, France

St-André-le-Bas Church

The abbey of Saint-Andre-le-Bas was founded in the 8th century by Duke Ansemund. The church was originally a chapel of the palace of kings of Burgundy built in the end of the 9th century. The abbey flourished in the High Middle Ages.  The troubles of the Hundred Years" War and the competition of the new religious orders reduced the power of the convent and it was unable to recover from the Wars of religion. ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Vienne, France

Caunes-Minervois Abbey

The foundation of the Benedictine abbey Caunes-Minervois was the work of Aniane, Saint Benoît d'Aniane's friend, at the end of the 8th century. Originally under the direct protection of the King of France, the monastery later passed into the hands of the Count of Barcelona, before ending up as a possession of the Trencavel family who decided to renounce their rights in 1195. During the Crusade against the Albigensi ...
Founded: 8th century | Location: Caunes-Minervois, France

Flaran Abbey

Flaran Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey located in Valence-sur-Baïse. The abbey was founded in 1151, as a daughter house of Escaladieu Abbey, at the confluence of the Auloue and Baïserivers, between the towns of Condom and Auch. The abbey was founded by Burgundian monks and today represents one of the best preserved abbeys in the south-west of France. After its foundation, Flaran Abbey experienced rap ...
Founded: 1151 | Location: Valence-sur-Baïse, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Sirmione Castle

Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.

Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.