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Fodor's France 2014
Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud
Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud Review
Founded in 1101, the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud (Royal Abbey) had separate churches and living quarters for nuns, monks, lepers, "repentant" female sinners, and the sick. Between 1115 and the French Revolution in 1789, a succession of 39 abbesses—among them a granddaughter of William the Conqueror—directed operations. The great 12th-century Église Abbatiale (Abbey Church) contains the tombs of Henry II of England, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their son, Richard Cœur de Lion (the Lion-Hearted). Though their bones were scattered during the Revolution, their effigies still lie en couchant in the middle of the echoey nave. Napoléon turned the abbey church into a prison, and so it remained until 1963, when historical restoration work—still under way, be aware of temporary closures—began. The Salle Capitulaire (Chapter House), adjacent to the church, with its collection of 16th-century religious wall paintings (prominent abbesses served as models), is unmistakably Renaissance; the paving stones bear the salamander emblem of François I. Next to the long refectory is the famously octagonal Cuisine (Kitchen), topped by 20 scaly stone chimneys led by the Tour d'Evrault.
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