01 February 2010

Cistercian Abbey of Provence

The air was crisp and chilly, a perfect day to visit the grounds of Le Thoronet Abbey.
Nestled between the bend of a small river and a spring, it is one of 3 Cistercian Abbeys in Provence- along with Silvacane and Sénanque.

Built in the early 13th century, Le Thoronet was home to around 20 monks. . .
and what a beautifully constructed home!

Cistercian architecture followed the belief that less is more- very simple in line,
form and even color, using the smoothest, palest available stone.

The quality of light let in by window just big enough is truly stunning.

Archway after archway lead to seemingly endless narrow passageways between
the different parts of the building. You never know where you might end up.

Note the precise stonework. The Cistercians were known for their mastery of metal,
extracting it and using it to cut stone. It was real tough competition for who got
to be the stone-cutter for their monasteries.

Enjoying the leaves and a sunny day in the south of France.

Mama and her baby boy.

This fountain sits under the beautiful arcade surrounding the simple, green grass courtyard.

One secret passageway leads down to the cellar, where the monks made olive oil and wine.
The nice ventilation chimneys prevented buildup of alcohol vapors.
Sorry, no parties allowed.

Farewell Le Thoronet- our last family outing before I depart from Toulon.