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Conferences about different themes linked with the abbey are organized. For further information, consult the website: www.abbayefontaineguerard.fr
We organize concerts followed by refreshments with the artists in September. Consult the details of the cultural season on our website: www.abbayefontaineguerard.fr
We organize various exhibitions and craft sales as well as the wicker festival and the carnival of Venice every other year. Consult the details of the cultural season on our website: www.abbayefontaineguerard.fr
In June, the abbey organises the Médiévales of Fontaine-Guérard. Historical recreation companies from the Viking period at the end of the Middle Ages dress up in period costumes and present life from this era to visitors (craftsmanship, weapon demonstrations, metalworking, herbalism and remedies, cooking, sewing, weaving, etc.).
The simplicity imposed by the Cistercian order still emanates from these Gothic vestiges that are sheltered by the wooded hillsides of the Andelle valley. The order wanted the inner journey's of the monks and nuns to be undisturbed by superfluous decoration. Today, the vestiges form a grandiose and moving setting where ceremonies take place in utter harmony surrounded by an everlasting alliance of nature and architecture. Something of a more intense nature also emerges here - is it the memory of a mad passion that was finally completed here, the intense spiritual quest that once arose beyond the vaults, or the hard work of the spinners? It is no doubt a mix of all three. Whatever it may be, with a long history to its name, the Abbey of Fontaine-Guerard has preserved the essentials: a sober beauty that touches the heart and soul.
When it was acquired in 2013, the abbey's charm prevailed over its geographical location. The souls of the nun's who once lived here can be felt around the site and a certain magic envelops you upon arrival. Over the years, the region of Normandy has become both historically and culturally rich.
This pearl in the valley of Andelle is surrounded by untamed nature and nestled at the foot of a miraculous stream with healing properties. Its history as a Cistercian abbey for women seems to have been forgotten over time. It is a masterpiece of Anglo-Norman Gothic architecture from the beginning of the 13th century and the Cistercian rigour can be seen in all its glory. It was founded in 1190, attached to the order of Citeaux in 1207, and completed in 1253. Guest can admire the troglodyte cellar, the church with a vaulted choir, the chapter house, the work room, the nuns' dormitory with a magnificent inverted hull shaped roofing framework, and the monastic gardens decorated with sculptures in memory of the women who lived in this a place of tranquillity and serenity. The expiatory chapel is full of history and was erected by the lord of Hacqueville - his wife Marie de Ferrières was assassinated here on his orders in 1399. The pine and chestnut trees, whose branches are entwined, symbolise the story of two lovers and a passionate love.
The site's origins stem from the source that was the result of the Gauls diverting underground rivers to make it a druidic site. This spring, or fountain, is where the property's name comes from: Fontaine-Guérard (the fountain that heals). With an abundant flow of drinkable water, this source attracted the first nuns in 1135. This is when the first priory was built by Amaury I de Meulan, lord of Gournay-sur-Marne. In 1190, Robert III de Meulan (known as "with the white hands") count of Leicester and cousin of Amaury de Meulan, made an important donation to the nuns of Fontaine-Guérard to build the current abbey. Attached to the order of Citeaux in 1207 and completed in 1253, it lived peacefully under the rule of St. Benedict until the dark days of the 1789 French Revolution. The nuns were hunted in 1790 and the abbey was sold as "national property " in 1792. François Guéroult, an architect and industrialist from Rouen, turned the dormitory into a spinning mill that quickly turned out to be too small. He demolished the porterie, the inn, the wing of the converses, the infirmary, the mill and the men's lodging to build a spinning mill on the river Andelle which adjoined the abbey. The unfavourable economic climate and the mismanagement of the business resulted in bankruptcy. The estate was then sold in 1822 to a wealthy industrialist, Baron Levavasseur, who demolished the south wing of the cloister (refectory and kitchen) before building the Levavasseur spinning mill, an industrial cathedral located five hundred metres from the abbey - it has burned down four times but the impressive remains still stand. After being passed down from father to son and grandson, the mill was sold and various owners succeeded one another until Fernand Colombel (who had no heirs) gave it to the Salvation Army in 1937. The property last changed hands in 2013 and became a private property.
This is a unique place at the foot of a source with healing properties. It is far from the current standards of modernity and the abbey can be fully privatised for weddings. Up a long, shaded driveway and past the door lies an enchanting and romantic place. The elegance of the Cistercian Gothic architecture and the surrounding "sensitive natural site" of the Andelle Valley plunge visitors into the heart of the Middle Ages. Secular and religious ceremonies can be held in the romantic ruins of the abbey. The conventual building of the nuns has two authentic rooms with cross-shaped ogival ceilings on the ground floor and a magnificent hall (former dormitory) and catering space upstairs which can accommodate up to two hundred and thirty seated guests. The monastic gardens are perfect for wines of honour and guests can enjoy a stroll.
The Levavasseur spinning mill's history is linked to the abbey's industrial past. It can be reached by a small road just five hundred metres from the abbey which follows the beautiful Andelle river where fisherman come to catch trout.