Royaumont Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Royaumont

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    Latrines

    by kokoryko Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Latrines building
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    On the folder you get at the entrance, the latrines occupy a big space in the descriptions and pictures. . . . yes, latrines, I did not expect to see latrines as works of art and architecture. . . .
    On picture 1, you see the “monks quarters” on the right, and left is the latrines building. The two persons on the picture are of course not “enjoying” the smell of the latrines, but looking at the long arch under the building, built above a canal which in fact washed away the “leftovers” of the monks when they lived here (picture 2); environment and smell were not a problem at that time, and all was washed away in rivers. . . . and today the canal is very clean and even swans enjoy the waters (picture 3)
    Well, it is named “latrines building”, and frankly, I would not be against living in a place like this one, and having the toilets inside (picture 4), and these “toilets” are really a beautiful building with even a small bell on top (picture 5); may be telling it is time to leave, others are waiting their turn. . . :)))


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    Other gardens and park

    by kokoryko Written Jul 1, 2010

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    Swans in the canal
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    After having visited a jewel of gothic art, it is also very enjoyable to walk in the gardens surrounding this abbey, watching peaceful swans (sometimes, they are not peaceful, I can tell you!) (picture 1), walk across the canal (picture 2), look at the abbey from the park and its perspectives (picture 3), look at the ruins of the abbatial church (picture 4), and again discover the beautiful overview of the abbey (picture 5) . . . . Walking in the park in these peaceful and beautiful surroundings is a real pleasure. . . . Sometimes don’t you wish to be a monk living in that sort of atmosphere? Well, a monk allowed to go out and see the world from time to time. . . . .

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    The floor tiles tell stories. . . .

    by kokoryko Written Jul 1, 2010

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    Various decor of the tiles
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    When you enter the refectory, you will walk on 750 years old floor tiles; well, many of them; others have been added, replacing lost and broken ones during renovation works by the French ministry of Culture in 1998.
    Honestly I do not know what all these tiles represent, but they are typical medieval: crowns lily flowers, lions. . . (picture 1), in the style we see in illuminated manuscripts or even on flags of that time. . . The lily flowers (picture 2) are the symbol of the French kings and you can also see dogs, deer, dragons. . . . and the plain tiles in different colours just enhance the decorated tiles.
    More tiles on pictures 3 and 4 (with my foot for scale, not aesthetics!), showing more décor. Well, there are lots of different tiles, and it could be a sort of a game to find unique ones on this beautiful floor (picture 5)? Next time I visit an abbey I will look on the ground, beautiful things are everywhere.


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    The great space of the refectory

    by kokoryko Written Jul 1, 2010

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    The big refectory
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    We have seen the cloister, the garden, the sacristy, and now leaving the garden on the left we will enter the refectory of the abbey; the refectory was were the monks gathered for having their meals, where they discussed about every day’s matters, where they relaxed, having a bit of social life.
    One has to imagine long benches and tables in this big room where the ceiling is sustained by sober pillars, designing a double-nave hall. You generally have not access to all the room, as there are very often musical representations in Royaumont and a space is kept for the musicians to exercise; the organ in this refectory is of course a recent addition (picture 1).
    The very elegantly decorated pulpit under arcades dominating the scene where the “reader” made his office, reading pages of holy books while his colleagues were eating (picture 2); whilst the monks had physical food, he provided from there “spiritual food”. . . .
    This big hall is empty, without furniture, except chairs when concerts are held here, this gives the hall an apparently bigger size, and most of all, you can enjoy to look at the floor tiles (picture 3) which are very original (Next tip).
    At the time of St Louis, Royaumont was an important intellectual centre, and here, may be in a scriptorium, may be also in the gardens during sunny days (picture 4), the most famous encyclopaedia of the middle age, the “Speculum Majus” has been written by Vincent of Beauvais, with the help of the local monks.



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    The nine squares medieval garden

    by kokoryko Written Jul 1, 2010

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    Coreopsis
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    It is well known that in almost all abbeys there was a monk in charge of a garden dedicated to medicinal crops; he was himself a medic, or worked under supervision of a medic with the objective of having all possible remedies known at his time at disposal. Few years ago the garden was dedicated to “magic” plants, but from time to time the gardeners change the theme of the garden.
    The garden we can visit nowadays (2009) is not dedicated to medicine, but to pigment plants, as the abbey had turned into a textile mill in the end 18th century, colours were largely used in the textile industry; the owners of the abbey had the good idea to re-create the garden with its medieval lay out in 9 squares, but, in each square you can see plants and flowers used as dye bases at that time.
    In this garden, you walk in alleys bordered by the squares where the soil is kept in “containers” made by woven branches in the traditional medieval way, allowing easier work for the gardener (picture 2); The plants look higher, and here (picture 3) the Epilobium and Coreopsis have a nice background with the windows of the abbey.
    I did not know a variety of Coreopsis was used for dying, being happy with the colours and shapes of the flower itself (picture 4) and these flowers are really catching the sun (picture 1).
    A leaflet you get at the entrance explains the use of the plants, (their leaves, roots, flowers, seeds. . . ) to make dyes, the colours. . . and if you find some well known ones (cannabinum, rumex, achillea), there are also many I never have heard of them, and which were very important in that industry, like a strange Eupatorium cannabinum (the high one on picture 5), with white flowers giving a yellow dye. . . . Well, colours, colours. . . in a beautiful setting.
    Oh, and if you go there in the right season, there are a few fruit trees, and it is not forbidden (?) to taste here a plum, there a cherry from the trees which are here and there around the garden.

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    More treasures in the kitchen

    by kokoryko Written Jul 1, 2010

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    Tapestry displayed in the gothical kitchen
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    No it is not food! The kitchen of the abbey has been renovated and re-designed in an exhibition room for some more treasures of medieval art.
    You find here examples of stone carving, tapestry and glass painting. . . .
    The kitchen of the abbey is a beautiful room with sober pillars and gothic vaults and arcades; this tapestry (picture 1) cannot be better displayed. A statue of the Madonna in a small niche (picture 2), another Madonna on a glass window (picture 3) found also the best places to be displayed. . . The actual keepers of the abbey have a real artistic taste and know to give aesthetic value to the treasures they keep. Each masterwork is here in a place it deserves. . . .

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    Medieval treasures

    by kokoryko Written Jul 1, 2010

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    13th century Christ
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    Most of the treasures of Royaumont disappeared during the revolution and during its “industrial period”, but a few had been saved, and finally, one can ask himself if it is better to have just a few, but well displayed or a big lot badly displayed and emphasised; I don’t know, but here are only a few, and they are really moving, so well displayed, and so typical of medieval art, reminding me sometimes the “primitive” art of Oceania; I know, there is no (apparent) link between Oceania today and deep medieval France, but humans lived here and there and at this and that time. . . . May be it is the wood, the expression of the faces, spirituality, humanity. . . I don’t know, it is just me. . . . The sacristy room contains jewels, and if this Christ of the 13th century (picture 1) is not Oceanian, not even in the style, the rough work has finally such an expressive result which reminds me what I see in Oceanian anthropologic museums. . . and this Madonna (picture 2) looks so beautiful to me, just spiritual strength and peace. . . Most of the wooden statues were painted (picture 3), but the raw wood is the most of the statues.
    Cathrin of Alexandria (picture 4) had 14 intercessors for her wedding, and the medieval artists tried to show their efficiency.
    Most of statues and works of art are displayed in a “treasure room”, well lit and displayed: works are individuals (picture 5).
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    Enjoy geometry and perspectives in the cloister

    by kokoryko Written Jul 1, 2010

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    Arcades and garden
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    When you enter the cloister, you immediately notice that, if the lay out is a very classical one (square, arcades, basin in the centre, . . . . ) the gothic arches are unusual, the buttressed pillars not a common view in a cloister (specially a Cistercian one!).
    But overall the “à la Française” garden, underlined by the boxwood low hedges, with geometrical patterns are so nice (picture 1) . Walk under the arcades surrounding the cloister, enjoy the perspectives (picture 2), and look at the details of the gothic arches (picture 3) with here or there some small rosaces (picture 4).
    The wall with the circular windows (picture 5) is not original, has been re-elevated after the church had been destroyed, giving back some intimacy to the cloister. Take your time, enjoy quietude in this little cloister.


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    Enter the cloister

    by kokoryko Written Jul 1, 2010

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    Cloister entrance
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    The lay out of cloisters and their building obey to some strict rules, and they have many things in common, but each has also its personality, depending of epoch, style, and finally (and important), the perception we have of it when we visit; one thing is sure, cloisters are designed for meditation, and this one is no exception to the rule. . . . Under the covered alleys of the cloister, in the small garden, you just can walk, looking up, looking down, letting your eyes see here and there, the calm and peace can invade you, if you make a bit abstraction of the other visitors (who do the same as you: search of peace and beauty). The door open to the entrance of the cloister invites you in some way (picture 1), and once under the gothic vaults and pillars (picture 2) amazement and quietude reach you. The arcades are yours, you can slowly walk, look at the light playing with geometries, look at the stone tables (picture 3), well “enhanced” with modern furniture, but there are also “empty” alleys, like the monks may have enjoyed them in the past (picture 4), and from the alleys, you of course can have a nice overlook at the garden (picture 5)

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    First a tour in the abbatial church ruins

    by kokoryko Written Jul 1, 2010

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    Ruined church tower
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    Monks, priests, clerics in general were not very popular at the beginning of the French Revolution, and, unluckily, the last head abbot of Royaumont, Henri-Éleonore-François Le Cornut de Ballivières, chaplain of Louis XVI, spent most of his time in Versailles and lived on very high standards, having even ordered the building of a palace (a copy of the Versailles’ Small Trianon) in 1789. This palace stands next to the abbey and cannot be visited.
    In 1790, the abbey has been confiscated and transformed into a textile mill ( the fashion of transforming religious buildings into industrial or agricultural buildings after 1917 in far eastern Europe had been preceded in France since long. . . ); the abbatial church has been destroyed in 1792, and only parts of a tower (picture 1) and pillar bases remain.
    You discover the ruins on the right end side of the alley from where you have the most beautiful overview of the object of our visit (picture 2), on which you already can notice the Île de France roof style of the main building (picture 3).
    Parts of the abbatial church can be seen on the outer side of the cloister walls (picture 4), and the pillar bases, from which you can try to imagine the lay out of the church. This for the lay out, and the tower has remains of décor and bases of gothic arches (picture 5) and you can think of the elevation of the church. . . . A nice manicured lawn is now in lieu and place of the church, a very relaxing place to walk through, thinking of what was here before. . . . .

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    Take your time before reaching the abbey

    by kokoryko Written Jul 1, 2010

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    The abbey seen from the entrance
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    Once you get through the gate where you purchased your ticket, you know you will see something beautiful; only the first view from the entrance, the reflections in the water canals under the trees (picture 1) are just the introduction to the visit. . .
    But before going to visit the abbey, just after the entrance, walk on the right, about 50 metres, you will find under the trees a small artificial grotto (picture 2) where you can pay your respects to the founder of Royaumont: St Louis, king of France. He is a saint of the Catholic church, people come to pray him, the grotto is a small sanctuary, and the statue represents the king as he is represented on miniatures since middle age (picture 3).
    The Abbey of St Denis, near Paris was the sanctuary, the necropolis where St Louis decided the kings of France would have their grave, a political action, wanting to demonstrate continuity of royal family and power, a symbol of centralism.
    St Louis’ mother, Blanche de Castille asked his son to build a sanctuary for the other members of the royal dynasty, the kids who would not become kings, the princesses, the brothers. . . and this sanctuary has been built in Royaumont (Regalis mons, Royal hill).
    The gothic abbey located in the beautiful landscaped garden (picture 4) was a royal necropolis until the French revolution; most of the buildings and the tombs have been vandalised, and from the chapels, church, only ruins like this one (picture 5) are remaining.


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