Unlike any historical site we have visited the Fontevraud Royal Abbey has created a working hybrid of the past, present, and future. While it is not new to see technology mingled amongst museums and historical places. The team at Fontevraud has engrained their “All Things Having a Purpose” philosophy by blending the use of educational electronics in a way that does not deter from your visit. Instead, they have found interesting and engaging ways to enhance your overall experience.
Founded in 1101, the Fontevraud Royal Abbey is no stranger to being on the cutting edge. With Robert of Arbrissel as the Abbeys patriarch, he conceived a place unlike any other. He founded a community where the monks and the nuns followed the same rule, and to take it one step further Robert put a woman in charge. His ideas were eons ahead of the times and separated him from the mainstream. With the Plantagenets as benefactors of the abbey, its prominence only grew. King Henry II’s widow, Eleanor of Aquitaine, even made the abbey her place of residence. You can find the resting place of the King of England, Henry II, his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and son, King Richard the Lionheart in Fontevraud. War and revolution dealt the abbey a bad hand, and to top it off in 1804 it became one of the toughest prisons in France. The Abbey has endured a long journey, but it has managed to come full circle, and again claim the ambiance of forward thinking and beauty.
One thing that I cannot stop thinking about is how Fontevraud exudes serenity. Every room we entered or hallway we walked provided such a sense of calm, particularly when we visited their hotel. Self-reliance is another highlight of the Abbey. They grow their own organic produce for their restaurants, and they create their own power in their self-sustaining energy station. They could just restore the complex and decorate it with inaccurate furnishings to present a standard packaged experience. Instead, they choose to produce a carefully crafted useful space, one step at a time in order to keep aligned with their “All Things Have a Purpose” mantra.
While not a new concept, I appreciate how they reinvest in themselves and look to interest visitors with multiple types of attractions. You can drop by for one of their many art exhibits, see one of their shows, or spend the day enjoying a splendid festival; all from a nine-hundred-year-old venue. Whether at the end of your visit, beginning or somewhere in-between a stop at the iBar is a must do. With interactive tables, you can learn more about the Abbey, play games and get a visual history of the complex; not to mention pick up a tasty treat or a refreshing beverage.
A very special thanks to Olivier Châble and Fontevraud Royal Abbey for hosting our visit and personally showing us around the campus. We walked away with such inspiration and a true belief this location is a prime example of how to provide innovated ways to preserve and present history.
The Royal Abbey of Our Lady of Fontevraud is located in Fontevraud-l’Abbaye, France. Visit their website for hours, prices and upcoming events.
4 out of 5 Travelationship High Fives. Who wouldn’t enjoy a day spent at Fontevraud. Also, keep your eye on upcoming art shows at the Abbey This is a worthwhile place for any traveler who is interested in adventure, art, relaxation, romance, history, bucket list activities.