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L’Abbaye de Fontenay
L’Abbaye de Fontenay, near Montbard, is one of the oldest Cistercian monasteries in France. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981 and it is easy to see why.
Structurally so beautiful, the warm sandstone building needs no adornment. The architecture is strong and uncluttered. The stained glass is gentle in tones of aquamarine, soft blues and yellow geometrics. And with light pouring through the windows and along the cloisters, you cannot fail but to be in awe. This is a peaceful place, designed for spirituality.
The Abbaye flourished between the 12th and 15th centuries, then during the French Revolution, the monks left and it was turned into a paper mill by Elie de Montgolfier, a descendant of the inventors of the hot air balloon.
In 1906, it was bought by Edouard Aynard and completely restored to its former glory. This family still maintain and preserve the site today. The gardens have been developed with a lake, fountains and shrubs and they are listed under the 'Jardins Remarquable ' scheme in France.
Frequently used as a film location, Fontenay Abbey was perhaps most famously the backdrop in the beautifully portrayed 'Cyrano de Bergerac' when Gérard Depardieu gave an award-winning performance.
*Open daily thoughout the year
*Good access for the disabled
Places to visit nearby
It can get pricey when you are visiting a lot of stately homes and places of interest. New for 2014, five places in Burgundy got together to launch the Pass Touristique 'Les Incontournables en Bourgogne' - five 'must-see' sites. Visit the first free of charge - either Château d'Ancy-le-Franc, L'Abbaye de Fontenay or La Grande Forge de Buffon at Montbard. You will receive preferential rates at the other two locations, go on to the medieval town of Noyers-sur-Serein for a guided visit and La Chablisienne in Chablis for wine at a reduced price. More details from the local tourist offices.
Pam Elson ©burgundytoday.com