One of the first French monuments to be inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1981, the Abbey was one of the first French monuments to be included on this prestigious list, which distinguishes the exceptional value of both the Fontenay abbey complex and its natural surroundings.
A little history
Located between Auxerre and Dijon, Fontenay Abbey was founded in 1118 by Saint Bernard de Clairvaux, charismatic figure of the Cistercian reform. It is the oldest surviving Cistercian abbey in the world. After the French Revolution, which led to the departure of the monks, it became home to the Montgolfier brothers’ paper mill. Today, their descendants, the Aynard family, are responsible for the remarkable restoration and preservation of all the Romanesque-style buildings: the abbey church, monks’ dormitory, cloister, chapter house, monks’ hall and forge.