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“Monks knew how to build”
Review of Abbaye de Fontenay

Abbaye de Fontenay
Ranked #1 of 4 things to do in Montbard
Certificate of Excellence
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Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The Abbey of Fontenay was founded by Saint Bernard in 1118. It is one of the oldest Cistercian abbeys in Europe. The Romanesque architecture offers a remarkable unity to all buildings remained intact since the Middle Ages. The Abbey was transformed into a paper mill after the French Revolution by the family Montgolfier and was bought back in 1906 by Edouard Aynard, the ancestor of the present owners who continue on safeguarding this masterpiece of Romanesque art. The old Abbey of Fontenay (12th century) was one of the first monuments to be inscribed on the Unesco world heritage list. This classification has distinguished the exceptional value of Fontenay and its environment. Free Parking and gift shop.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities
Reviewed July 15, 2013

Beautiful monastery, amazing use of the technology they had. Not too busy so there was never a rush.

Thank Darryl S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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131 - 135 of 640 reviews

Reviewed July 14, 2013

Truly deserving of its *** (three-star) Michelin Guide billing!! Of course, one has to like old abbeys and be willing to pay the 9 Euro entry fee. The setting is truly sensational and the old church, cloister and other structures haunting. Come early to enjoy the solitude.

Thank Anna G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 14, 2013

One of the oldest and most complete Cistercian abbeys in Europe, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.

The original complex comprising church, dormitory, cloister, chapter house, caldarium, refectory, dovecote and forge, remain intact except the refectory.

The Abbey of Fontenay, along with other Cistercian abbeys, forms a connecting link between Romanesque and Gothic architectures.
Contents [Wilipedia]

Foundation of the order [extract from Wikipedia]

In the late 11th century in the great Benedictine monastery in Cluny, France, St Robert thought that Cluny was against the actual Rule of St Benedict: “to work is to pray”. As a result, St Robert and other monks detached from Cluny.

St Robert established the Order of Cistercians in Citeaux, France. The new order observed the Rule of St Benedict that monks had to be poor and live a simple life.

Cistercians built self-sufficient monasteries in isolated areas and refused to use servants. Independent, they differed from Cluny. All houses were under the direct control of the abbot, and each Cistercian monastery took care of its own. Each was an independent individual society.

Bernard of Clairvaux, a founder of the reformed Cisterian order, felt that Cîteaux Abbey was not austere enough to reflect the Rule of St Benedict. Thus, in 1118 he founded the Abbey of Fontenay in a Burgundy valley with strictly implemented austerity. The Cistercian monks moved to Fontenay Abbey in 1130. Nine years later, the Bishop of Norwich fled to Fontenay to escape persecution, and helped finance the construction of the church . The church was consecrated in 1147 by Pope Eugene III.

By 1200 it was complete with 300 monks. In 1259, devout King Louis exempted the Abbey of Fontenay from all tax. Ten years later the abbey became a Royal Abbey. In 1359, the Abbey of Fontenay was pillaged by the army

The Abbey was looted by King Edward III of England during the Hundred Years' War. It suffered further damage in the Wars of Religion in late 16th century. In 1745, the Refectory was destroyed. After the French Revolution in 1789 all the monks left the abbey, which was turned into a paper mill.

In 1906 Edouard Aynard, an art-loving banker from Lyon, bought the abbey and restoration was complete by 1911. The abbey remains in the Aynard family to this day. In 1981 the abbey became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[2]

Thank alimac69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 10, 2013

We visited the Abbaye last weekend - what a wonderful place. Calm and Peaceful and full of history. We did not have a guided visit, and found the brochure given to us with the entrance tickets informative but there could however have been helpers/volunteers placed throughout the Abbaye to answer any historical questions. Also to supervise the children - some were trying to catch the fish in the pool. Also I found the Gift Shop very expensive.

1  Thank Suzanne05-12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 3, 2013

This is a must see. It is a reconstructed though decommissioned Abby set in a lush park-like setting. The church is Romanesque as are many of the building. The grounds are fantastically well maintained. It was one of the most beautiful and peaceful places we visited in Burgundy -- and that is saying a lot. Note: this isn't a stop for those seeking activity... this is a place for leisurely stroll and quiet contemplation -- that and an early, medieval metal forge. It is wonderful country and worth the drive to get there. Highly recommend.

Thank DCroamer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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