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Abbey of Fontevraud, Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, http://www.lumen-terra.com/img/lieux/76_fontevraud_recoupe_1.png

Abbey of Fontevraud

High place of French culture

Situated near Saumur, between Angers and Tours, 3 hours from Paris, one is surprised by the state of preservation and the different functions of the Abbey of Fontevraud from the time of its foundation to today. It was founded in 1101 by the surprising and fascinating Robert d’Arbrissel, a missionary, who settled here with his community made up of men, women, rich, poor, nobles, and those living on the margins of society. It became a place of abstinence and poverty for those living the community life, praising the Lord together. There were many vocations and gifts thanks to the protection of Pope Urbain II and the increasing renown of Robert. These allowed the construction of a monastic town with four areas that were for the nuns, the brothers, the repentant women and lepers. Within less than a century, there were 100 monasteries associated with Fontevraud, founded in England and in Spain. Later the recumbent statue of King Richard the Lion-Hearted was installed here. The monastic life of Fontevraud ended the French Revolution in 1789. It was transformed into a prison in 1804 which saved it from destruction. More than 2000 people were imprisoned here and it was reputed to be the toughest in France after Clairvaux. The prison was closed in 1963 with the edifice already listed as a World Heritage site. The unique restoration project would then begin. Today it is a mecca for culture all the while respecting its initial spirit as an abbey. With its thematic visits, a cinema school, concerts, conferences and debates, a restaurant, a wine bar, literary and philosophical symposiums, the abbey also lives on with its spirituality and exhibits.

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