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

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At the abbey there is a restaurant, wine shop, gift shop and many special events are held.

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The first view from the parking lot.

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Inside the courtyard, the entrances to the wine shop and gift shop. The restaurant is opposite the wine shop.

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Tickets for the tour of the abbey are sold in the gift shop.

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There is a path behind the gift shop to a waiting area for the guided tour. Wait outside the gates until the guide opens.

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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!

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The main court yard

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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.

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The first room off the courtyard was the dining hall for lay brothers. They kept separate from the monks.

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The first inner court, the Louis XIV Courtyard.

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The passage for the lay brothers from the courtyard to the church at the end. The lay brothers’ dining room is to the right.

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The arcade around the cloister, the inner court for monks only.

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The cloister

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The capitals of the columns could not portray humans or animals, so flowers and leaves were used as decoration.

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The chapter hall where monks met with the abbot every morning.

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The church

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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.

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Some of the many glass stained windows.

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Stairs that lead between the church and the dormitory.

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Stained glass windows in the lay brothers’ dormitory

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Exhibition with photos from the Abbaye in the storeroom.

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Part of the garden with 3,000 rose bushes.

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Glass stained windows of the church

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We visited the abbey in October and except for the rose garden, the other gardens were closed to visitors.

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A water color rendering of the inner garden, the cloister.

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