Off the beaten path around Le Mans

Since there is more to Le Mans than just the Cité Plantagenêt we strolled through the city in search of the tourist office in the new part of town. The two ladies at the office answered all our questions, and with a map for a later stroll, we left with all the needed information.  The Abbaye Royale de L’Epau, founded by Bérengère de Navarre, the wife of Richard Lionheart, was our next destination. The right tram was right across from the tourist office, so we hopped on and went for a visit.

today these buildings house the administration @Royal Abbey of Epau

Royal Abbey of Epau @Le Mans

The Royal Abbey of Epau was about five minutes on foot from the tram station. Unfortunately, while we were there, a festival was taking place and the effigy of Bérengère was hidden underneath the bandstand. Really too bad, but at least I was able to take a photo of a picture of it.

the effigy of Berengaria @Royal Abbey of Epau

Even though the main reason for our visit of the abbey fell away, we had an interesting time. The Royal Abbey was founded in 1229, so the structure is almost 800 years old. One can imagine how rich the abbey had been by looking at the extensive grounds, which were full of trees and sweeping lawns. Also the structure of the church and the other buildings remained sound and sturdy, therefore good building materials must have been used. There was an extensive renovation though after the 100 Years’ War, in the beginning of the 15th century.

the former dormitory, now a concert hall @Royal Abbey of Epau

murals still found on the dormitory walls @Royal Abbey of Epau

The scriptorium was such a light and airy room, no wonder the manuscripts were copied and illustrated here.

scriptorium @Royal Abbey of Epau

Contrary to the chapter house where the abbot allocated the tasks for the day. The room emanated a certain gloom nowadays.

chapter house @Royal Abbey of Epau

When you take a closer look though, one can detect a lot of murals. The chapter house must have underscored the power of the abbot.

details from the chapter house @Royal Abbey of Epau

Best of all though was probably the view outside. Through the beautiful window frames the sky and the trees appear so much more impressive.

view out of the chapter house @Royal Abbey of Epau

Walking around the abbey to get a better feeling for the setup of the monastery, the glance back looked satisfying.

the abbey with its church from the back @Royal Abbey of Epau

We sat down at one of the many shaded tables and drank a cider from the area. It was definitely time to relax after so much exploration. Yours, Pollybert

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