Here are some of the finest old abbeys, chapels, chartreuses and forts of Provence.
Notre-Dame de Benva Chapel
This lovely little chapel sits in the woods beside the D50 road a couple of km west of Lorgues. The simple two-story building has a large covered porch with 16th-century frescos.
The Favas Chapel sits beside the D19 road just 3 km west of Bargemon in the Var department.
The Fontfroid Abbey (Abbaye Sainte-Marie de Fontfroide) is a 12th-century Cistercian monastery located about 15 km southwest of Narbonne, in the eastern Pyrénées region of France. Inside the abbey is a magnificent church, a beautiful cloister and other rooms to visit, as well as a large bookshop and a restaurant.
The prieuré (monastery) was founded in the 10th century, owned first by the Bishops of Sisteron, and donated it to the Abbey of Cluny in 956. In the 12th century, the Benedictines built the church and the Romanesque cloistures. Up to the 14th century, a small group of about a dozen monks still worked the land and the nearby forest.
The Lagrasse Abbey, or Abbey of Saint Mary of Lagrasse, was founded in the 7th-century at the village of Lagrasse, betweenCarcassonne and Narbonne. Known as Abbaye Sainte-Marie-d'Orbieu or Abbaye Sainte-Marie de Lagrasse, it was elevated to the rank of abbey in the 8th century.
5th-century abbey, 11th-century Cistercian abbey (St Honorat Monastery) in the Alpes-Maritimes, off the coast of Cannes. The fort was located on a small spit of land on the southern coast to protect the monks from Saracen pirates.
This chapel, also known as the Hermitage de Mayran was built in the 12th century on the site of a Roman Villa. Chapel Mayran sits in a tiny clearing in a copse of trees surrounded by vast vineyards, about 2 km northeast of Saint Martin-la-Coste village.
This 11th-century chapel and priory, on a small hill beside Brue-Auriac, is very picturesque. The chapel part is intact and restored, while the adjacent priory displays the original stone walls, shapes and window openings. The site is shaded by a grove of ancient trees, and sits on a hillside of vineyards with a great view.
Notre-Dame du Revest Chapel
This a small stone chapel was built in the 12th century, from the remains of an 11th-century abbey, on the site of a Gallo-Roman villa. The building is completely restored, with stone buttresses, a grassy area beside the D561 road just west of Esparron-de-Pallières in the Var.
Notre-Dame d'Inspiration Chapel
The Medieval Chapelle Notre-Dame d'Inspiration sits on the hilltop site of the original Oppidum and castle of Roquebrussanne in the Var department.
A medieval walled fortress built on a hilltop beside Villeneuve-les-Avignon, directly across the Rhône from Avignon. The fortress was built in the 12th century, surrounding the Abbey of Saint-André which had been there since the 10th century.
Saint Ferreol Hermitage
The Saint Ferreol Hermitage site is a hilltop at the northeastern edge of Lorgues, with a 13th-century chapel, ruins of a Ligurian oppidum and Roman castrum, and a lovely forest walk.
Saint Gilles Abbey
The Abbey of Saint Gilles is a Benedictine monastery located in the center of the old town of Saint Gilles, on the edge of the Camargue in the South of France.
Saint Guilhem-le-Désert Abbey
The Abbaye de Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert (or Abbaye de Gellon) is Benedictine Abbey founded in the year 804, sitting now in the center of the little village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, beside the Hérault river valley.
Saint Jean-d'Orgerolles Chapel
A very picturesque 11th-century Romanesque chapel, partially in ruins, sits out in the woods 700 m from the eastern end of the village. It's a 10-15 minute hike out on a pretty trail through the woods to the chapel. The ruins include a tall, intact bell tower in the original stone and a partially restored nave and rounded apse.
Saint Martin Chapel
An 11th-12th century Romanesque chapel ruins beside the village of St Victor-la-Coste. The remaining section of ruins of the stone chapel include the apse and most of the tall bell tower, still impressive after about a thousand years.
Royal Convent, Saint-Maximin
Saint Maximin's Royal Convent is a beautiful building arranged in a square around an open-air cloister. The Couvent Royal abuts the north side of the taller Basilica, and was built at the same time, begun in 1295 by order of Charles II d'Anjou.
This beautiful old monastery complex, located just beside the Roman site of Glanum, is popular today because of Van Gogh's stay here in 1889-90. The site is part of Saint Remy's "Circuit Van Gogh", and the first thing you'll see as you enter is the the field of olive trees painted by Vincent.
Saint Roman Abbey
A rare Troglodyte Abbey beside Beaucaire, carved out of the solid rock, from the 5th century and fortified in the 12th century.
Sainte Roseline Chapel
Abbaye de la Celle-Roubaud and Chapelle Sainte Roseline were founded in the 11th century by the monk Roubaud, a hermit of St Victor of Marseille.
Saint Sixte Chapel
Avery picturesque 12th-century chapel sitting on a low, exposed hill just east of the village of Eygalières. Framed by the tall cypress and a with a knarled dead tree in front, this is one of the best-known images there is of Provencal Romanesque art.
The Benedictine prieuré includes a 12th-century Romanesque church and other good, solid buildings added for agricultural use during the 16th to 19th centuries. Located on a 2000-year-old Gallo-Roman site.
12th-century Cistercian abbey in the Vaucluse, near Gordes. One of the "three sisters of Provence" ("les trois soeurs provençales") Cistercian abbeys.
Former 12th-century Cistercian monastery in the Bouches-du-Rhône, northwest of Aix-en-Provence. One of the "three sisters of Provence" ("les trois soeurs provençales") Cistercian abbeys.
St Etienne Chapel (Gard)
A 10th-16th century chapel near St-Hilaire-d'Ozilhan (Gard) started life as as a small Carolingian monastery, and was reinforced in the 15th with stones from the Pont du Gard.
12th-century Cistercian abbey in the Var, between Brignoles and Draguignan. One of the "three sisters of Provence" ("les trois soeurs provençales") Cistercian abbeys.
Le Trinité Chapel
Trinité chapel is a tiny stone rectangle of a building sitting in a small copse alongside the Draguignan-Grasse road, south of Callas.
This is a fabulous 14th-century Carthusian Monastery located in the center of the village of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, with an entrance via an innocuous doorway on the main village street.
A large, ancient monastery hidden in the thick forests of the Maures mountains west of Saint Tropez.