Founded in the 12th century by Cistercian monks and rebuilt in the 18th century. It is the only abbey in France of this age.
At first sight, it looks FAN-TAS-TIC!
Too bad we arrived at 4 pm and the last guided visit just departed. No self-guiding visit allowed! What a bummer! A little frustraded we nosed around in the visitor's center which was still open... a shop with mainly books and religious items...
But there are were a few good looking replicas of original Roman miniature architectural ornaments. We were enchanted by this one: only €26. (see third picture)
The gardens cover 20 acres with an unique collection of 5000 species and varieties of plants. Separate entry from the Abbey and separate entrance fee!
Another tip: Coming from St-Valéry, you'll enjoy driving the road to this Abbey, which is so picturesque with old little houses and manors, special spots and more...
In 1066 William the Conqueror ( in french "Guillaume le Conquerant) stopped in St Valery before going to conqueer England.
Im remembrance, every year, the town celebrates the "Fetes Guillaume) the last week end of june or beginning of july. The old city comes back to Medieval Times, with animations, bands and many people in costums. If you're lucky you'll even be able to meet William himself !
During the "Fetes", the famous Medieval Taverns settle in the old town, principally aroung the Church. The food is simple (mostly barbecue type) but the atmosphere is fun. You eat on big tables and that's an easy way to start conversation with you table neighbours.