The Royal Abbey of Fontevrau, an "ideal city" for modern times.


Atlantic Loire ValleyLoire ValleySpiritual TourismCultural Heritage

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud
© Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 7 June 2023

Founded in 1101, the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, located in the Pays de la Loire region, is the largest monastic settlement inherited from the Middle Ages. Fully restored, the site now brings its rich heritage to life with a multidisciplinary cultural programme and a host of digital installations.

To create an "ideal city". This was Robert d'Arbrissel's intention when he founded the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud in the 12th century. For 700 years, it was home to a mixed religious community of nobles of royal blood, led by an abbess. Thanks to the will of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France and then of England, who was an emblematic figure of Fontevraud, the abbey was also the royal necropolis of the Plantagenet dynasty, whose recumbent figures can still be admired today.

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud
© Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud

In 1804, Fontevraud was converted into a prison by order of Napoleon, a function it retained until 1963, when major restoration work was undertaken.

A living heritage

Today, Fontevraud Abbey brings its illustrious past to life through a rich cultural programme. The 2018 season focuses on the 17th century, with the exhibition "Gabrielle de Rochechouart and Madame de Montespan. From Versailles to Fontevraud, being a woman in the 17th century" devoted to the 33rd abbess of Fontevraud and her famous sister.

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud
© Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud

An escape game, a murder party and a treasure hunt on a tablet were also on the programme of summer 2018.

The abbey also supports creativity by exhibiting various works of contemporary art around the site. There is plenty of time to wait before the opening of the Fontevraud Museum of Modern Art in 2019, which will showcase the impressive collection belonging to Martine and Léon Cligman, including works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Edgar Degas and Robert Delaunay.


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