Provence in the south of France is a wonderful landscape of secret little valleys that lead to pan tiled hill top villages surrounded by Lavender fields. The Romanesque Senanque Abbey is tucked away in such a valley where its Medieval monks copied great manuscripts in its cloisters and made a living from selling lavender oils. Today it is a reminder of a monastic life that was smashed in France by the French Revolution. Senanque Abbey is a fine example of Romanesque architecture and as the sun rises over the steep hills that surround it and the first rays kiss the Abbeys Romanesque church and lavender fields, there are few more romantic places to be in Provence. Hope you enjoy the photos, Paul Williams.
Photos of the Romanesque Senanque Abbey, Provence, France
Pictures, photos & images of Senanque Abbey France. The Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque is a picturesque Cistercian Abbey tucked away in a deep valley below the village of Gordes in the département of the Vaucluse in Provence.
Founded in 1148 by Bishop Cavaillon and Ramon Berenguer II, count of Barcelona and Provence, the Romanesque abbey was laid out following the lines of Citeaux Abbey, the mother house of the Cistercians. The rule of the Abbey was austere for the monks with the only heated room in the monastery being the scriptorium, so that the monks could create the precious books that were of great value in the medieval world. A simplicity was adopted in the architecture embellished only by simple leaf bas relief sculptures.
By the 14th century Senanque had four mills, seven granges and possessed great estates in Provence. From this date though the Abbey went into decline and in the late 1500’s it was ransacked by the Huguenots during the Wars of Religion. By the French Revolution in 1789 Senanque Abbey only had one monk left and like many Abbeys in France it was closed and its lands nationalised.
In 1854 the Abbey was repurchased by Cistercian monks who started to grow Lavender and tend bees to make honey. Today Senanque is one of the most picturesque and evocative Romanesque buildings in France. The Abbey is approached in the summer through blooming Lavender fields. The Lavender grows right up to the Abbey creating one of the iconic views of Provence.
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