The Fontfroide Abbey (Southern France)

Fontfroide cloister

In the legendary Cathar Country, somewhere between the city of Narbonne and the charming village of Lagrasse, at the heart of a dense Mediterranean forest, perfumed by a sea of lavender and rosemary plants, surrounded by vineyards, pine trees, olive trees and a bunch of melancholic cypress trees, lost in time, deafened by the crazy singing of a myriad crickets, there is a Cistercian abbey called Fontfroide …

Fontfroide 2

Although this Cistercian abbey has been there since 1145, Covetotop hasn’t visited it until well entered the 21st century (i.e. last week). This is an unexplainable delay, because Fontfroide is well worth an earlier visit.

Due to some anticlerical French laws, the monks of Fontfroide were forced to abandon the place in 1901, and the abbey was put on sale … Hence, Fontfroide is private today and there are no monks around. It belongs to the same French family, the Fayets, since 1908.

Fontfroide house

The Fayet family (now in their third and fourth generations) has carried out an overwhelming effort in order to restore and preserve this historic jewel.

Ok. End of the preamble. No more comments by now. Just follow me in the utmost silence. We are about to get lost in Fontfroide …

Entrance to Fontfroide

Fontfroide garden

Door at Fontfroide

Fontfroide corridor

Fontfroide 8

Fontfroide 9

Fontfroide 10

Fontfroide 11

Fontfroide 12

Fontfroide 13

Fontfroide capitulum

Fontfroide capitulum 2

Fontfroide 16

Fontfroide 17

Fontfroide 18

Fontfroide abbey interior 1

Nave Fontfroide

Fontfroide 21

Fontfroide 22

Fontfroide Altar

Fontfroide 24

Fontfroide 25

Fontfroide 26

Fontfroide monk

Nice place. Isn’t it?

Fontfroide is not only nice to see. From time to time the mystic doors of this Cistercian marvel are opened to allow the music flow in its abbey church. By “music” I mean Music. Acoustics are unearthly; the old stones seem to add their own harmonic voices to those of the human singers & players …

“If ordinary listening can be compared to bathing in a tub or a swimming pool, listening to music in Fontfroide is like immersing oneself in the sea” (Jordi Savall)

If you are a music lover (by “music” I mean Music), I take for granted that you know perfectly who Jordi Savall is (

If you prefer drinking wine to listening to classical & ancient music, Fontfroide produces outstanding wines …

Fontfroide vineyards

You can taste them at the Fontfroide’s cellar …

Fontfroide cellar

But drink with moderation. French/Cathar wines are dangerous.

Corbieres wine

I drank this whole bottle and I ended up lost in the abbey, singing a mysterious song that I didn’t know, in an old language that I don’t speak: “Si ai perdut mon saber …”


Just in front of the Abbey there is a restaurant, named “La Table de Fontfroide” …

La Table de Fontfroide

They don’t serve Cistercian food, but modern French cuisine …

La Table de Fontfroide 2

… accompanied by French wine …

Si ai perdut mon saber …!!!



About Covetotop

A Mediterranean blogger
This entry was posted in Art and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Fontfroide Abbey (Southern France)

  1. harri8here says:

    Your opening sentence could not be more enticing and inviting.
    I’m languishing amongst these most beautiful photographs while listening to the haunting JS music link (thanks so much for sharing that) and sipping a glass of Rose :).

    The email sub worked … hooray!

  2. augusta says:

    It took a lot, but I think you have outdone yourself, Covetotop. Bravo!

  3. Beautiful photos, lovely spot. Thank you for sharing these.

  4. Trish says:

    What a brilliant tour guide you are! I’m sorry I didn’t know this abbey existed – I would have visited it. Next time… How amazing for the owners! Do they live there?

    • Covetotop says:

      Brilliant tour guide? To be sincere, I got lost in the abbey … 😉 I’m sorry you did not visit it, because it is not far away from Perpignan. Next time, perhaps … And this “brilliant tour guide” must acknowledge that he has no idea about the owners’ customs: I don’t know if they live there the whole year. Thanks for your question anyway! 🙂

  5. Sarah says:

    Once again, a lovely post! The lavender is amazing!

  6. Stunning–but it does beg the question, does the gracious Fayet family let people tour around the monastery unsupervised, or were you on a tour? I really want to visit this place, and you can credit your photos for that! I will make sure to tell them that the strange drunk man singing “Si ai perdut mon saber …” sent me!

    • Covetotop says:

      Guided tour, of course! By “I got lost” I just pretended to add a little humor to the post. In fact, this place is very well organized, and there are plenty of guided tours in the abbey (in French, but there are recorded audioguides in other languages) You’ll like it, for sure!

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