Montmajeur Abbey

A fortified abbey with two chapels and a church

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This splendid ruined medieval and 18th century Abbey is located on a low hill about 8km (5m) north of Arles on the D17 road to Fontvieille. Originally surrounded by marshes, these were eventually drained and reclaimed by the Benedictine monks who founded the Abbey during the 10th century.

Affair of the Queen’s Necklace

As happened with many religious communities during the middle ages, the monks lapsed into decadence and the church authorities expelled them. Unfortunately, the last abbot, the Cardinal of Rohan, became caught up in the ‘Affair of the Queen’s necklace’. King Louis XVI suppressed the Abbey in 1786.

The Abbey consists of a 12th century church with adjoining Cloisters, Chapter House and Refectory. Adjacent is the splendid medieval keep of the Tour de l’Abbé, which was the Abbey’s main defence. Next to the tower stands the curious Chapelle St Pierre, partially built into the hillside.

Allow at least one hour to see everything and remember that the last entrance is 45 minutes before closing.

Don’t miss: the lovely Chapelle Ste Croix (see main image) built in the form of a Greek Cross about 200m to the east of the Abbey or the nearby fascinating Daudet’s Mill at Fontvieille.

At A Glance

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