Our selection of the most beautiful abbeys in Provence

Provence has a rich heritage and is full of sublime abbeys reflecting a picturesque past. So many architectural masterpieces to appreciate through cultural visits surrounded by shady gardens and striking monuments.
By Mélissa Darré

Lérins Abbey

Anchored at the heart of the Bay of Cannes, one of the two islands of the Lérins archipelago, Saint-Honorat is home to a medieval monastery dating back to the 5th century. Owned by a community of Cistercian monks, this peaceful haven, hidden behind thick white stone walls, reveals a lush garden with singing cicadas. Along with the beauty of its church, this site with its sea view is also renowned for its vineyards, which produce a valuable wine.

L’abbaye de Lérins
© Fotolia - Arthur R.

www.abbayedelerins.com

Sénanque Abbey

An emblematic figure of Vaucluse, Notre-Dame de Sénanque is one of the three famous sisters of Provence. The abbey was built by monks of the Cistercian order in the Middle Ages. Nestled at the heart of the Gordes lavender fields, this building of spectacular arches and carved stone columns has its own special charm. Beyond their spiritual retreat, its occupants care for their kitchen garden and lavender field, which they use to extract a perfume oil with powerful qualities.

L’abbaye de Sénanque
Photography: José Nicolas

www.abbayedesenanque.com

Thoronet Abbey

Another member of the famous Provencal trio, Thoronet Abbey is the very expression of Romanesque architecture. Built in the 17th century using an age old technique, this building is brimming with history and has a remarkable simplicity about it, with only light dancing between the cut stone walls. Admired for the austere beauty of its simple lines that emanate an unparalleled serenity, this abbey brilliantly embodies the spirit and faith of its Cistercian creators.

L’abbaye du Thoronet
Photography: José Nicolas

www.thoronet.monuments-nationaux.fr

Salagon Abbey

A witness to medieval times in Haute-Provence, Salagon Priory, located in the town of Mane, tells its story through a listed museum and outstanding gardens. More than 2,000 years of history are particularly well illustrated by its magnificent Romanesque church, with its characteristic rose windows, arches and stained glass. And that's not forgetting the exquisite gardens covering 6 hectares surrounding it, a real reference for ethnobotany where more than 1,700 plants are cultivated with passion.

L’abbaye de Salagon
Photography: José Nicolas

www.musee-de-salagon.com

Silvacane Abbey

The youngest of the three Provencal sisters, Silvacane Abbey has been the pride of La Roque-d'Anthéron since its foundation in 1144. It takes its name from the nearby marshes of the Durance (which were called 'Silva Cana') and its subtle mixture of Roman and Gothic styles is the architectural work of monks from Morimond. This ultimate jewel of Cistercian art is embellished with a lavish carved decoration as a symbolic representation of heaven on earth.

L’abbaye de Silvacane
Photography: José Nicolas

www.abbaye-silvacane.com

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