Le Thoronet Abbey, together with its ‘sisters’ Silvacane and Senanque, is one of three Cistercian abbeys in Provence. In 1136, a group of monks left Mazan Abbey in the Ardeche to found a monastery, which they built 15 years later near Lorgues, in a wooded place between the bend of a small river and a spring. Building work began in 1160 and continued until 1230. In the early 13th century, the monastery was home to around twenty monks and similar number of lay brothers.
Less than two centuries later, the abbey had already begun to decline. In 1660 the abbot raised the question of restoring it. In 1699, cracks and collapsing roofs were recorded, along with broken doors and dilapidated windows. In 1790, seven elderly monks were still living there.
The abbey seemed doomed to disappear when Prosper Merimee a writer, and one of the first inspectors of historic monuments, saved it by notifying Revoil of its existence. Restoration work began in 1841 and continues today. The State bought the site progressively from 1854 onwards.
Thoronet Abbey is an expression of the very essence of Cistercian art with its extreme sobriety, the purity of its lines and the simplicity of the volumes dictated mainly by the organization of community life. In this respect it has been a source of inspiration for generations of architects.
Visits take approximately one hour. There are guided tours available and tours suitable for disabled visitors.
1 April to 30 September : 10 am to 6:30 pm (Sundays 10 am to noon and 2 to 6:30 pm)
1 October to 31 March : 10 am to 13 pm and 2 to 5 pm (Sundays 10 am to noon and 2 to 5 pm)
on January 1, May 1, November 1, November 11 and December 25
North of the Cannes/Aix-en-Provence road, 30 km southwest of Draguignan
Tel: + 33 (0)4 9460 43 90
Address: Abbaye du Thoronet, 83340 Le Thoronet