Abbaye de Fontfroide
The Abbaye de Fontfroide was originally a Benedictine community and joined the Cistercian Order in 1145.
In 1151 some of the monks left to found a daughter house in Spain. The abbey grew rich and powerful and
supported the Catholic Church during the Cathar challange. After a law was passed in 1901, many religious
congregations were forced to leave France. The Fontfroide monks moved to Spain. The abbey was bought
by a family from a nearby town in 1908, and is still privately owned. Their intention was to restore the site,
and they have maintained it since. The English home page: http://www.fontfroide.com/home_page.htm
At the abbey there is a restaurant, wine shop, gift shop and many special events are held.
The first view from the parking lot.
Inside the courtyard, the entrances to the wine shop and gift shop. The restaurant is opposite the wine shop.
Tickets for the tour of the abbey are sold in the gift shop.
There is a path behind the gift shop to a waiting area for the guided tour. Wait outside the gates until the guide opens.
The sign says “Do not enter without ringing.” We rang, the gate opened and a lady told us that we had to wait for the guide!
The main court yard
There has been extensive restoration, and the whole abbey was in very
good condition, as this part of the wall in the court yard clearly shows.
The first room off the courtyard was the dining hall for lay brothers. They kept separate from the monks.
The first inner court, the Louis XIV Courtyard.
The passage for the lay brothers from the courtyard to the church at the end. The lay brothers’ dining room is to the right.
The arcade around the cloister, the inner court for monks only.
The capitals of the columns could not portray humans or animals, so flowers and leaves were used as decoration.
The chapter hall where monks met with the abbot every morning.
The monks came down the stairs from their dormitory every night for a mass at 0200. The balcony to the right
was for monks who were too old or sick, so they could participate even if they could not come down the steps.
Some of the many glass stained windows.
Stairs that lead between the church and the dormitory.
Stained glass windows in the lay brothers’ dormitory
Exhibition with photos from the Abbaye in the storeroom.
Part of the garden with 3,000 rose bushes.
Glass stained windows of the church
We visited the abbey in October and except for the rose garden, the other gardens were closed to visitors.
A water color rendering of the inner garden, the cloister.