There’s something utterly magical about spending the day traipsing through ancient holy sites while sleeping the nights in a modern stylization of a medieval abbey complex. Fontevraud Royal Abbey, situated in France in the region where Poitou, Anjou and Touraine meet, is at the moment one of the largest surviving monastic cities from the Middle Ages, a miraculous place that whispers the stories of France and England, about dashing heroes and courageous women of Aquitaine.
The Fontevraud Abbey was listed as an Historic Monument in 1840 and has been added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 2000. The lush green Loire Valley is certainly a captivating place while the abbey itself has been a spectacular location in which an abbess ran the holdings that sheltered both men and women in the four priories: Sainte-Marie was for those considered to be ‘contemplatives’, Sainte-Marie-Madeleine was for the lay sisters, Saint-Jean de l’Habit for the monks, and Saint-Lazare was the location for nuns caring for lepers that would come to the holdings. It has been a beloved of royals as well as having been turned into a prison, a cultural center, and now boasts a hotel within its walls.
Here, every traveller can find the reclining effigies of Eleanor of Aquitaine, her husband King Henry II, and of their son Richard the Lionheart. While the destination is rich in history, it appears too little of the olden stories are told to tourists passing through, meaning that you might want to read up on the time period in which the abbey blossomed.
The Fontevraud L’Hôtel that’s been founded inside the abbey helps one truly experience the ambience of the holy site, with custom-built furniture and wall panels with muted colours reflecting the quietness of the space, inspiring the feeling of majestic magnificence. It is located in the abbey’s Saint-Lazare priory and was designed by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku in collaboration with the Gabor Mester de Parajd, head architect for historical monuments. The team faced a challenging task of creating modern and comfortable accommodations while preserving the spirit of the historic site. “We used micro architecture. It’s almost like creating a little building inside the big building. It readjusts the scale of things so you feel more intimate in something that’s much bigger.” Manku explained to the NYT.
(Images credit: Nicolas Mathéus)
There are 54 rooms located throughout various parts of the priory that have received their shapes because of the architectural spaces around them with some becoming duplexes, while others are sloping attic rooms or have extremely high ceilings. This experience is perfect for those who wish to find a quiet, intimate refuge for meditation and contemplation.
At the end of the day, however, we are looking at a 4-star hotel with all the modern amenities necessary, including the iBar with touch screens that tell the story of the place from 1101 to the present.
Furthermore, each guest receives an iPad as soon as they arrive, giving them access to hotel services as well as information about the Abbey and its surroundings. Fontevraud TV, the in-house TV channel, is screened in each bedroom. You may be in an abbey from the 12th century but that doesn’t mean you need to forgo all 21st century technologies during your stay!
Watch the video below to see the interior of the Fontevraud hotel: