Abbaye Saint-Michel de Frigolet - Provence Beyond
This is a Premonstratensian monastery on the east side of the Rhône between Avignon and Tarascon. It was founded in 960 as a Benedictine Abbey and intitially occupied by the monks from Montmajour Abbey. After a series of closures and different owners over the centuries, the Premonstratensian Order occupied the abbey in 1923 and are the current owners.
The Frigolet Abbey is located in low, forested hills called la Montagnette, in an isolated valley of pines, olive, cypress and Provencal herbs. The area, and the abbey, are named after herb thyme, ferigoulo in the Provencal language.
The Monastery is open for guided visits only, and only on Sunday late afternoon (15h winter, 16h summer). Additionally, there are certain Sundays of the year when Monastery visits are excluded, such as on Easter, Epiphany, Christmas, New Years, and various Saints days.
The Monastery guided visits are given "by a friar speaking in French - if you or your group does not understand French, you will want to have someone along capable of translating efficiently and discretely..."
The two churches are open most days, during the morning and during the afternoon.
Abbey Basilica: 8h-11h, 14h-19h
Saint Michel Church: 7h-12h, 14h-19h
There are two churches at the Frigolet Abbey. The smaller is the Eglise Saint Michel, located near the Abbey entry and close to the road. The original Romanesque church was built in the 12th century. In the 19th century it was extensively restored and enlarged toward the west.
The larger church is the neogothic Notre-Dame Basilica built in the 19th century, consecrated in 1866, incorporating the original 11th-century Chapelle de Notre-Dame du Bon Remède.
The original chapel had a magnificent baroque interior that's still visible today, as part of the overall interior of the Basilica.
The Frigolet Abbey has a shop selling a local liqueur, the Liqueur des Prémontrés. Three varieties are available of distilled liqueur from an ancient recipe that was made at the Abbey in the 19th century. The current offering is still artisanal, although it is made at a small distillery in Eyguebelle, a village in the Drôme department, 90 km to the north.
• GPS: 43.858703, 4.727938
Frigolet Abbey is in the center of a low range of hills, La Montagnette, that stretches southwest to Tarascon and northest to Barbentane. There are several PR (Petite Randonnée) hiking trails, with yellow marks, that cross through these hills. The area can be very hot and dry during the summer so be prepared. During very dry periods, access is sometimes restricted.
A full day's (7 hour) figure-8 loop hike itinerary is: Barbentane, Frigolet Abbey, Boulbon village, San Salvador, Frigolet Abbey, Barbentane.