today and the next times now a few posts about our holiday in France - unfortunately already much too long ago!
Our holiday home was in Narbonne. Narbonne is a town in the south of France at the Canal de la Robine. It is known for its bathing resort Narbonne Plage. From Narbonne we went by car (which we rented) to the abbey Saint-Marie Fontfroide.
The Cistercian abbey Abbaye Sainte-Marie de Fontfroide (11th-18th century), is located about 14 kilometers southwest of Narbonne. The monastery complex is located more precisely at the outlet of a quiet valley at a variable water-bearing stream, in the department of Aude, Occitania (France) and even closer to the coasts of the large lagoon lakes of the Mediterranean in the east. It used to be one of the largest monasteries in southern France and a bulwark of the Catholic Church in its fight against the Cathars. Its lands even reached as far as Spain.
Fontfroide is situated in the middle of a wild garrigue landscape and therefore still today completely secluded in a valley. The monastery is lined with olive trees and cypresses and is surrounded by dark green. The building itself is a sacred structure made of light sandstone.
What I found very interesting: Unlike other monasteries, Fontfroide was not dissolved and plundered during the French Revolution, but only secularized in the 19th century. One reason why the site is so well preserved - our luck ;)
If you like, you can also take a guided tour to get to know and visit the abbey church, the cloister, the chapter house from the 12th century and the residence of the lay brothers (I don't know how it is during Corona ;))). The cloister is surrounded by boxwood and begonias and the facades are decorated with blue rain. The Cour Louis XIV is decorated with lavender and privet, accurately cut into shape.
The construction of the monastery of Fontfroide is a very good example of a "monastic city" as designed by Saint Benedict. As an ideal city, the monastery was first to satisfy the needs of a community that had withdrawn from the world. Everything should be located inside the complex, where the activities can then be carried out. But what makes the monastery stand out is the constant plan of the different functions of the buildings. Together they form the monastic square, which offers the monks their own living space, adapted to the strict requirements of the monastic community.
The main subdivision of the whole complex is made in an east-west direction by the wing of the convent rooms, which are among those reserved exclusively for the monastic community belonging to the Order. To the north of it are the rooms of the Conversations (lay brothers), whose physical work serves the monastic community. This area creates the contacts to the non-monastic outside world, for example for guests, suppliers, traders and others.
The centre and heart of the monastery is the almost square cloister courtyard, surrounded by four cloister galleries.
But for me the most beautiful thing about the monastery was the garden - or rather the gardens, there were several larger ones.
You can reach the gardens by the normal "route" when you have already visited everything else. The absolute highlight: the rose garden. Fortunately we were there during the summer. Even if the term rose garden might make you think of a little more roses than the ones on the photos, the smell of roses was very strong in the garden. And of lavender and mint. There were cypresses again and they "framed" the garden, so to speak.
During the main summer season there are also night tours (but we didn't take part in them). If you ever try them, please write in the comments how it was! . Fontfroide Abbey has a very special magic in the light of the spotlights, which cleverly highlight details of the architecture and garden!
Also great: This quiet place can be visited by visitors all year round.
The windows of the abbey church from the 12th century were very modern, but the cloister was decorated with Romanesque columns, the majestic chapter house with its marble columns. The gardens were terraced. Everything looked very well kept, almost like an English garden ;)
The abbey also offers tastings of wines with a protected designation of origin from the Corbières massif, just the thing for wine lovers ;)
I hope you enjoyed the Post! The trip to the monastery was one of the most beautiful things we did in France. Especially nice was that everything was still in good condition! Definitely a sight that I can recommend!