The Abbey of Fontevraud is located in the Pays de la Loire region. Considered as one of the greatest monastic cities in Europe, and royal necropolis of the Plantagenet Dynasty, the Abbey of Fontevraud is impressive both in its size and its originality. Transformed into a prison by Napoleon in 1804, it was saved from destruction and became a dreaded penitentiary centre. The last prisoners did not leave until 1985. Today, as a Centre Culturel de Rencontre (Cultural Encounter Centre, a label from the Ministry of Culture and Communication), the Abbey is a renowned site for concerts, symposiums and exhibitions. It also plays a role in creative development thanks to artists’ residencies that are welcomed by the abbey.
Founded in 1101 by Robert d’Arbrissel, the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud is characterised by its two Orders, governed by women. Situated at the heart of Richard the Lionheart’s empire, Eleanor of Aquitaine spent her last days here.
The Plantagenet kings
Today the abbey church houses four polychrome recumbent figures representing the Plantagenet sovereigns, counts of Anjou, and benefactors of the Abbey of Fontevraud in the 12th century. Eleanor of Aquitaine lies alongside Henri II, the Plantagenet king, their son Richard the Lionheart and Isabella of Angoulême, second wife of John Lackland.
The Abbey church, royal necropolis of the Plantagenet
Built in the 12th century, the abbey church reflects the diverse origins of its designers. In 1906, the architect Lucien Magne restored a large part of the monument, in particular the cupolas, destroyed when the church became a central penitentiary.
Monastic city from 1101 to 1804, the Abbey of Fontevraud has an architectural style rich in terms of spiritual meaning, but also punctuated by the manual activities, part of everyday life here. Enter the secret world of monasteries, walk in the footsteps of the nuns, and explore a different world: the mysterious Roman kitchens, the cloisters, the dormitories, and the large refectory.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleon transformed the Abbey of Fontevraud into a prison, saving it from ominous destruction. To the existing wall were added new walls and partitioning, making it more suitable for its new identity. Discover the stones which today still bear signs of a sombre past.
The Abbey of Fontevraud opens its most guarded doors to offer you a whole range of thematic visits off the beaten path that can be shared with the whole family: "The underground passages", "The last days of the Abbey: before the Revolution", "The Central prison", and also "The nuns' daily life".
Abbaye de Fontevraud - BP 24
49590 Fontevraud l'Abbaye
Tel: +33 (0)2 41 51 73 52