The Fontfroid Abbey (Abbaye Sainte-Marie de Fontfroide) is a 12th-century Cistercian monastery located about 15 km southwest of Narbonne, in the eastern Pyrénées region of France. Inside the abbey is a magnificent church, a beautiful cloister and other rooms to visit, as well as a large bookshop and a restaurant.
For the standard entry fee you can join a guided tour (1 hour) or visit the abbey on your own. The Abbey visit includes access to the lovely Rose Garden behind the Abbey buildings.
The Gardens refers to a separate garden area on the hillside above and beside the Abbey. To visit the Abbey and the Gardens, you need to request the Abbey + Gardens ticket when you purchase your entry ticket.
The Fontfroid Abbey is handy to access if you're vacationing on the Mediterranean beaches around Adge or Sète, and is handy to the autoroutes connectiong Béziers, Perpignan and Carcassonne.
Driving times to the Abbey are: Narbonne 15 min; Carcassone 45 min; Béziers 40 min; Perpignan 50 min.
Fontfroid Abbey History
The Abbey was founded in 1093 by the Viscount of Narbonne. In the middle of the 12th century Fontfroid joined wiht eh Cistercian reform movement to become Cistercian monastery. It was then granted land in Spain and joined with the Poblet Catalan monastery and granted the same amount of land locally by the Viscountess of Narbonne, making it a very wealthy and powerful abbey.
The Fontfroid Abbey joined in the fight against the Cathars in this region of France.
The Abbey was privatized in 1908 and remains privately owned today.
The Fontfroid Abbey has an excellent restaurant, La Table de Fontfroid in the entry area, with quite reasonable prices. There's an outdoor terrace, but in the summer we found the inside, with its high ceilings, to be cooler.
Books, Gifts. The Abbey bookshop - gift shop is large and has a big selection of books and information on the abbey and related subjects.
Wine. The Fontfroid Abbey makes their own wine, an AOC Corvières, and you'll find a winery shop right there in the entry courtyard. The Fontfroid Abbey wine is also available for purchase in the abbey restaurant and via the Web.