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Founded in 1101 by Robert d’Arbrissel, Fontevraud Abbey was originally created to have a ‘mixed’ order of both men and women, which also included people from all social backgrounds.


In 1189, Fontevraud became a royal necropolis, housing the tombs of Henry II of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lionheart. Over seven centuries, 36 abbesses, often drawn from high nobility, and sometimes even of royal blood, succeeded one another in running the abbey.


After the last abbess of Fontevraud was evicted, Napoléon Bonaparte ordered that the abbey be transformed into a high-security prison, housing up to 2000 prisoners. During this period, Fontevraud was considered one of the toughest prisons in France. In 1963, the prison was closed, and after many years of restoration the abbey was opened to the public.

Opening hours:

November - March: 9:30am - 6pm

April - September: 9:30am - 7pm

Closed on December 25, and from January 1-25.