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Fontevraud Abbey

49590 Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, France
| +33 2 41 51 73 52
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Fontevraud Abbey   France

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Sun - Sat 9:30am - 7pm

Fontevraud Abbey

Ten miles southeast of Saumur lies Fontevraud Abbey, the largest abbey in Europe and resting home of Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Spread over 32 acres, it feels almost like a miniature village, complete with 12th-century monastic buildings like a church, a chapter house, and cloisters. In 1804, Napoléon converted the abbey into a high-security state prison with 2,000 inmates and a reputation as one of the toughest in France. It remained a jail until 1963—even housing members of the French Resistance in the 1940s—and didn’t open to the public until 1975. Today, visitors can take audio tours of the property, though the kitchen (the last remaining Romanesque example in France) and the prison exhibition are currently under renovation.