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This is the well, the source of cold water – today at the very same place as about a millennium ago.
We are in the labour courtyard of the Abbey of Fontfroide (fontfroide meaning cold well). Once this was the area for producing everything the abbey and its inhabitants needed for independent living – if food processing, livestock depot, butcher work, blacksmith services …
In 1093 some monks decided to live in this spot, a valley with the supply of cold water. Soon the Vicomte de Narbonne donated the valley to the Benedictine monks who established swiftly a great abbey. (Later it became a Cistercian abbey.)
The abbey is well preserved and a highlight for tourists as well as event managers … the vast parking areas show the popularity. There is also a well established restaurant, wine cellars …
We made a trip to L’Abbaye de Fronfroide one morning on a weekday during off-season – and it was rather quiet i. e. no scramble of people. Below is the main gate viewed from the inner courtyard, the reception area of the abbey.
Lions guard the courtyard and the access to most of the abbey buildings.
There is the main area where the monks and the lay brothers lived and worked. Have a look at the former kitchen – refectory and dormitories show the same design.
There are also private areas i. e. private gardens reserved for the abbot and his guests with elaborate works of art depicting Greek mythology themes.
Coming to the cloistered court … inside the abbey.
The cloistered court is very well preserved although restoration works are ongoing. These examples show the different states of restoration …
After spending quite a lot of time inside the abbey and the adjoining church we finally entered the gardens. (We didn’t cover all the garden area – there are special theme gardens stringed together climbing the hillside next to the abbey.)
After some hours admiring the monument and a refreshing stop in the abbey’s restaurant we moved on. Only some short drive away from ‘LAbbaye de Fontfroide is a wine-growing estate in Boutenac (Les Corbières) where we stocked up on rosé. We discovered the wines from this estate when living in Carcassonne. So along to this trip we managed to combine culture and wine – although I think that’s the same in Southern France.