Shot details: Nikon D90 with Sigma 10-20mm f/4.0-5.6 lens @ 12mm & 1/15sec @ f9 ISO 200
Location: Fontevraud Abbey, Fontevraud-l’Abbaye, France.

Photograph along one side of the Grand-Moutier Cloister, the central thoroughfare of activities around the abbey. To the north is the church; to the east the sacristy and chapter house; to the south, the refectory and to the west the outbuildings.

One of the largest historic monastic sites in all of Europe, the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, is situated in the Loire Valley a few kilometers from the River of the same name and the city of Saumur. This location in the heart of the Saumur-Champigny vineyards and the Loire-Anjou-Touraine Regional Natural Park, was once the center of Richard the Lionheart’s Empire.



For nearly a millennium, Fontevraud was one of the most powerful abbeys in France. Subsequent to a Revolutionary order to close all monasteries in 1792, Fontevraud took on a whole new role in French society when it was converted from religious monastery to a prison early in the 19th century. It remained a penal institution from 1804 until 1963. However, as inmate labor was used on the transition from penal facility back to its former life as a monastery, the very last prisoners left Fontevraud as recently as 1985.

Now a part of the Ministry of Culture, the Abbey is a cultural and tourism attraction managed by an association created specifically for that purpose. Today, Fontevraud, steeped in history, is a centre of creativity that still welcomes visitors who visit the recumbent statues that mark the burial place of Plantagenet Kings Henry II and Richard the Lionheart. Here too is the burial place of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Isabella of Angouleme, the second wife of John “Lackland, King of England, youngest son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Certainly worth a look if you travel to the Loire Valley.