Situated north-east of Dijon, the Abbey of Fontenay is one of the oldest monasteries of the Cistercian order. Founded in 1118 by Saint Bernard, it is still intact after eight centuries of history. Harmony, simplicity and sparseness recall the spirit of the Cistercians who built and lived in these building for several centuries. More than 300 monks lived here at its height in the 12th and 13th centuries. Following the French Revolution (in 1789), the building was bought and transformed into a paper-making factory.
After the work done by the present owners, the Abbey of Fontenay took on once again its initial spirit and visitors are touched by its spirituality. Except for the refectory, all the rooms retain their original function: church, dormitory, cloister, chapter room, heating room, forge, and room for the monks. The preservation of the site and the beauty of the valley surroundings are reason for the classification as World Heritage in UNESCO’s listing in 1981.
Each year more than 120,000 visitors from around the world come to admire the buildings of the abbey nestled in a green setting of its gardens. Along with these visits, cultural events are organized each summer, especially concerts and plays.