The Abbaye de Fontenay dates back to the year 1118 when it was founded by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. The Cistercian order observed the rule of St. Benedict which required monks to live a simple life. They broke the day into thirds; a third for prayer, a third for the community and good works, and a third for rest. Life here was austere and strict. At its peak, before beleaguered by the Hundred Years’ War and the Wars of Religion, it served as many as 300 monks.
The Abbaye was constructed using local stones and is built in the Romanesque style. The original complex consisted of church, dormitory, cloister, chapter house, caladium, refectory, dovecote and forge. All remains intact with the exception of the refectory. The Abbaye was purchased in 1906 by Edouard Aynard and it remains in the Aynard Family to this day. In 1981 it became a world heritage site.
It is breathtakingly beautiful – and an unlikely stop I will treasure – just as I do the memory of my visit to Vernon France. It makes one stop to consider all the history, and beauty that surrounds us that unless we travel gets missed. It’s nice to get off the beaten path and to discover.