Fodor's Expert Review Abbaye de Sénanque
If you've fantasized about Provence's famed lavender fields, head to the wild valley some 4 km (2½ miles) north of Gordes (via D177), where this photogenic 12th-century Romanesque abbey seemingly floats above a redolent sea of lavender (in full bloom late June through August). Begun in 1150 and completed at the dawn of the 13th century, the church and adjoining cloister are without decoration but still touch the soul with their chaste beauty. Along with the abbeys of Le Thornet and Silvacane, this is one of a trio of "Three Sisters" built by the Cistercian Order in this area. Next door, the enormous vaulted dormitory contains an exhibition on Abbaye de Sénanque's construction, and the refectory shelters a display on the history of Cistercian abbeys. The few remaining monks here now preside over a cultural center presenting concerts and exhibitions. The bookshop has a huge collection of books about Provence (lots in English).