The Abbeye of Fontenay, near Montbard Burgundy France, was founded in 1118 by Saint Bernard de Clairvaux, abbot and primary builder of the reformed Cistercian order, and it is considered to be one of the oldest Cistercian abbeys. Beautifully restored through the initiative of Edouard Aynard in the early 20th century and well maintained by the Aynard family to this day, it became a Unesco World Heritage Site 1981.
Fontenay is one of the most complete abbeys in Europe and my absolute favorite abbey to visit. The interior of the church wonderfully reflects the aesthetic as well as spirit of the Cistercian order. Devoid of any pomp, its magnificence is characterized through simple, pointed arches and beautiful latticed glass windows. It is the light in particular shining through that lets you experience the spirituality of this glorious space. Simplicity and quietness is also featured throughout the complex, most significanlty in the cloister. In the capitals for instance there are no decorative motifs - such as figurines or images so poplar with the Benedictines - only floral themes like leaves and flower buds. This abbey truly is an inspiring site.
To learn more, visit Abbeye de Fontenay.