Fontevraud Abbey (France 2015)

a effigyI wanted to see this abbey in particular because some historical figures I have studied are buried there: Henry II (English king), Henri’s wife, Eleanor d’Acquitaine, their son Richard the Lionheart (at the back of the picture). Less well known, is Isabelle d’Angouleme (at the front), the wife of another son, John of Magna Carta fame. I wrote a novel about her and wanted to see where she died and her effigy.

a cookeryThe abbey is a whole compound, founded in the early 12th century. The kitchen’s many chimneys are fascinating. The church is huge, now completely. The whole place was overseen by a woman and contained both men and women, separated of course. In church, the women  sat in rows along the sides and sang call and response. Only men at the altar, bien sur.

abby 1The place was saved because it was a prison – for Napoleon then for the Germans. Floors were put in to use the space. Now restored. The prison part was made a big deal of; less so the abbey. Over half of the women were of royal blood.

There was a place for confession, the only talking allowed. What did they confess? A crush on cute priest? Covetousness? Anger? Wanting to talk? Hubby says they wanted to dice up the fathers who sent them there.

We had coffee on the plaza, overlooking the garden, tres heureuses.

a arched garden

a door


  1. Barbara Nickelson says:

    I’d love to read your novel….

  2. Janet Oliver says:

    I’ve always wanted to see this place! After reading “Eleanor, by the Wrath of God Queen of England” it’s been on my bucket list. Thanks for letting me explore it with you!

  3. How did I miss this post? Fascinating to see this place. If it were me being sent to the abbey, I think I’d be like your hubby imagines, plotting vengeance on the father who sent me there. Maybe some of the women enjoyed it though? It’s a very pretty place.

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