Fontevraud Abbey, one of France’s largest medieval monastic complexes, is now home to an extraordinary hotel and restaurant. The conversion of the Saint Lazare priory was entrusted to architects Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku, who describe the project as a “journey between tradition and modernity that reinvents the history of the site with a combination of passion, sensory pleasure and poetry”.
Cultural activity at Fontevraud does not stop with preserving the Abbey’s heritage, however exceptional it is. Fontevraud Royal Abbey boasts a dynamic multidisciplinary cultural program some say is as good as that found at the highly renowned cultural venues in Nantes, Angers or Tours, to name a few local cities, or even Paris.
Heritage site par excellence, Fontevraud Royal Abbey welcomes contemporary art as part of a cycle of themes including installations by contemporary artists, exhibitions at the graphic arts gallery, debates and lectures on a range of themes – from history to design, film screenings and of course concerts; the Abbey lives and breathes culture.
The dining area houses the Fontevraud Le Restaurant, and hosts chef Thibaut Ruggeri who creates three menus, daily, of 3 to five courses. All dishes are homemade and prepared on site from raw produce, and all meats are of French origin. The iBar located inside the restaurant is a blend of architecture and technology, touchscreen tablets of different sizes are incorporated into the furniture offering innovative ways to peruse the cocktail menu.
The 54 rooms of this 1000 year old four-star hotel have been out-fitted with high-quality bedding, elegant contemporary furniture that uses noble materials such as oak, and high-tech convenience. Each guest receives an iPad on their arrival, via which they access hotel services and can find out about the Abbey and its surroundings. The Saint-Lazare priory goal is to live in the rhythm of the 21st century, so just like the iBar rooms house a digital library of amenities and information at the convenience of their guest.