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!
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.
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.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.