Monday, 8 August 2011

Abbaye Cistercienne, Notre Dame de Ré

On our visit to the north of  L'Île de Ré we stopped off to take a look at the former Cistercian Abbey, Les Châteliers.


Now in ruins, the original buildings date back to the twelfth century. However, as with many religious institutions in the area, it had something of a chequered history. 

It was destroyed by the English Fleet in 1294, then rebuilt only to suffer two more attacks during the Hundred Years War. In the first, in 1388, destruction was partial but the second attack in 1462 was more severe and led to a refurbishment which included the building of the abbey church of Notre Dame.

Then, in 1574, during the Wars of Religion, the Hugenots ravaged the buildings and they were abandoned by the Cistercian monks.

The abbey church is probably the best preserved part of the ruins and dates back to the end of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth century.

Set against the backdrop of the sea and isolated from other buildings the ruins form an impressive sight.


The abbey was the focus of a restoration project in 1997 by the conseil général de la Charente-Maritime. As so often in France, the site is beautifully tended with not a blade of grass out of place.

It is also free to visit. There is ample parking 100 yards from the site and it is certainly worth the short detour off the D735.

1 comment:

Craig said...

Excellent photos... thanks for the virtual tour.