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The Cistercian Royal Abbey of L'Épau (Le Mans)

 

French Cistercian Abbey Pages

 

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The Cistercian Abbey of L'Épau, set in a large and attractive park in what is now suburban Le Mans, was founded by Queen Berengaria (c1165 - 1230 (65)), who had the extreme misfortune to be married to Richard I of England.

 

The place is a real pain to access, and when you get there (2007) you find an uninspiring mix of construction site and function space which does not rate a visit  and won't even when the construction stuff is over (unless you want a good walk in a large attractive park).  There is a large unatmospheric uncistercian church, an OK chapter house (which does contain the only interesting feature of the site - a skilfully restored gisant of Berengaria - below) and a corporatized dormitory (right).  No cloister and not one fun capital or carved face that we could see in the whole place.

 

Even in France, where everything got so destructively knocked around and destroyed, there's much more interesting Cistercian stuff to be seen, but Queen Berengaria is unique.

 

 

 

The dormitory being set up for a corporate dinner function

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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