Thursday, November 3, 2016

l'Abbaye de Fontevraud

Fontevraud village is dominated by the abbey buildings - founded in 1101 it is steeped in history. Most of the main buildings have been painstakingly restored and the areas open to the public are full of rich architectural features and centuries of history.

Highlights include the tombs of Richard the Lionheart, and his parents Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henri II, the beautiful cloister square and the unusual kitchen with its many chimneys - from the outside it looks a little like stone pineapples.

In 1792, after the French Revolution, the last abbess was removed from the site and Napoleon Boneparte ordered it opened as a prison in 1804; it had the reputation of one of the toughest in France. During World War II members of the Resistance were imprisoned here and the prison finally closed it's doors in 1963.

Since then the renovations and 'remodelling' of the site mean it is now a fascinating stroll through time with something for everyone; there is an iPad visit for children and art exhibitions and displays in the cellars.

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