Saint Maximin's Royal Convent is a beautiful building arranged in a square around an open-air cloister. The Couvent Royal abuts the north side of the taller Basilica, and was built at the same time, begun in 1295 by order of Charles II d'Anjou.
The Convent building comprises an inverted "U" (PHOTO), with the north and east wings today a hotel and restaurant. The St-Maximin Office de Tourisme (OT) is located in the west wing of the square. There is no southern wing, as the Basilica forms the southern wall. The covered aisle of the cloister, with its beautiful vaulted ceiling, makes a complete square.
The entrance to the cloister is through the Office de Tourisme, in the right-hand corner of Place Jean Salusse, by the back wall of the Hotel de Ville building. You enter the tourist office, then straight across to a glass door that enters into the Cloister.
Entry hours for the Cloister is 9h-12h30, 14h-18h; Sunday 10h-12h30, 14h-17h30.
If the tourist office is closed, you might be able to enter the cloister from the hotel, but we haven't tried that.
The Cloister is a lovely open area (Photos-07 to 09). On the eastern side are outdoor tables for the hotel's dining room. When we were there last, a group was having a leisurely lunch beneath the shade of a low tree.
The Cloister Aisles have eight bays on each of the four sides, with graceful cross-ribbed vaults. The light filtering down into the Cloister and through the pillars gives a rich, golden light, and a very peaceful feeling.
The ancient Monks' dining hall (réfectoire) and a low vaulted chapel open from the cloister aisles.