Montbard and the Abbey de Fontenay

Montbard is such a lovely town we decided to stay for a while. Wednesday was spent in Dijon (see my last post for that saga) and so on Thursday we took a taxi (called for us by the Tourist Info Centre next to the railway station) and headed out of town to the Abbey de Fontenay. As a side note we could probably have biked there and saved the taxi fare but we were led to believe it is up a steep hill. It’s not steep at all and not that far either. Taxi fare €13 each way.

The Abbey was founded by Saint Bernard in 1118 and is one of the oldest Cistercian abbeys in existence. The Cistercians followed a strict life of poverty, self-sufficiency and solitude and from the 12th to the 15th century there were over two hundred monks living there. They cultivated, farmed livestock and founded a metal working industry but the abbey went into decline in the 16th century and was eventually sold off in 1790. In 1820 Elie de Mongolfier (whose family invented the hot air balloon) bought it and transformed it into a paper mill. Sacrilege!

Abbey de Fontenay view from the garden

Abbey de Fontenay view from the garden


Abbey de Fontenay

Abbey de Fontenay

However in 1906 Eduoard Aynard bought the property and undertook massive renovations to ‘extract Fontenay from its industrial slime’ (love that quote). It is still in the Aynard family and is beautifully maintained and a joy to explore.

Apart from the church there is the dormitory, cloisters, Chapter House, monks room, boiler house, an infirmary and a jail house! Also the forge which has been fully repaired quite recently and is in working order. It was an important part of the Abbey as the monks developed large hydraulic hammers to beat the iron. They also developed industrial plants which produced tools they then sold in neighbouring towns.

The cloisters

The cloisters

The church

The church


The forge

The forge


The forge

The forge

Very impressive and immaculately maintained grounds surround the buildings on three sides. It’s a must see if you are in the area.

We also went to the covered market on Friday to buy a few supplies and weren’t disappointed. Although not as big as some of the markets we’ve been to it was well equipped and very clean and tidy. The building appears quite new actually. We picked up a roti chicken which lasts two meals for €8 which was delicious.

Montbard marché

Montbard marché

The weather has been decidedly cooler and we had rain a couple of days. Our mooring is opposite the Locaboat base but the Mairie run it and charge €10 for the first four nights then €8 after that which includes power and water. It’s under the trees which is a bonus!

Sunday we went for an hours walk around the town walls and park after some serious housework.
Monday we were off again, 9am into the first lock and was goodbye to Montbard. Lovely town, shady mooring, shame about the constant barking dog at the bar opposite but otherwise recommended.

About khodges2013

Alan and I divide our time between our apartment in Christchurch, New Zealand, and our 11.5m Dutch Cruiser, Silver Fern, on the canals in France. We started out hiring and eventually bought our boat in 2014. The two summers lifestyle is wonderful and we feel very lucky!
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2 Responses to Montbard and the Abbey de Fontenay

  1. carolinebetts942696329 says:

    I love the pic of the forge. Would like to see that Abbey xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s wonderful that a ‘family’ bought it and I guess restored it and can keep it going with receipts from entrance fees and their own funds. I wonder whether they get any funding from the government. Sounded a lovely place to stay too, the town I mean. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

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