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A Working Holiday
Chapter 1: We Leave for France
Chapter 10: Looking for Mr. Goodstone
Chapter 11: A mission to la Clape
Chapter 12: Dinner at Château de Lignan
Chapter 13: Antiques and plunder
Chapter 14: The vintner next door
Chapter 15: The rooftops of Nézignan-l'Évêque
Chapter 2: Comes the crusade
Chapter 3: The 13 colonies
Chapter 4: Our curtains are dreadful
Chapter 5: Naked beaches
Chapter 6: A visit to Château des Estanilles
Chapter 7: A pilgrimage to Toulouse
Chapter 8: Remembering Collioure
Chapter 9: The priest and the mayor
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A Day Trip Itinerary...print this out   print the content item
Abbaye de Fontfroide
"The old Cistercian abbey of Fontfroide lies tucked almost out of sight deep in a little valley in the Corbières," says the Michelin guide. "This tranquil setting surrounded by cypress trees could almost be somewhere in Tuscany."Most of the abbey buildings were erected in the 12th and 13th centuries. When the Albigensian Crusade raged across the region, the abbey sided with the Pope against the Cathar heretics; the Pope repaid this loyalty handsomely. The abbey prospered for centuries, but in 1791 was abandoned. A family from Béziers purchased the property in 1908, to ward off the sale of its cloisters, and has tastefully restored the place. The abbey serves lunch in its charming café from noon until 2:30 PM, with snacks and drinks served from 9 AM until 6 PM. A cave for wine tasting is also open during the day. (There is also a notable restaurant at the abbey, Les Cuisiniers Vignerons, open for dinner.) Many people bring picnics and eat their lunch at tables beneath the trees.There's an admission charge. The guided tour cost 13.50 for two adults in 2003. And, please, don't forget to tip the very professional guide: you're expected to put a euro or two in her hand as you leave. (Guide-tipping is common in France, incidentally.)

You cannot self-guide inside the abbey, but you can walk the perimeter and the land; there are several marked trails. We took a bracing hike into the hills of the Corbières from the abbey, following the fire roads. Like many things in France, the abbey is closed for tours during lunch.

From Valros, take the A9 (the Autoroute) toward Barcelona. (On a clear day, you might see the Pyrenees ahead.) Take exit 38 (Narbonne - Sud). Toll in 2003: 2.20. Look for the N9 toward Carcassonne (NOT Perpignan). Then take the N113 toward Carcassonne. (This all happens pretty quickly, so stay alert.) At a roundabout ("rotary," say Americans) pick up the D613. This takes you directly to Fontfroide. You'll see plenty of signs. The abbey is a major attraction, rated two stars by Michelin.
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