Senanque, Silvacane, Thoronet The Cistercian Abbeys of Provence

Known as the “three sisters of Provence,” these religious monuments, erected in the Middle Ages by monks of the Cîteaux order, are architectural masterpieces that bear witness to a great desire for simplicity and calm.
By Angélique Jurquet

There are dozens throughout France, but only three in Provence: the abbeys founded by the Cistercian monks. The first of the trio – known as the “three sisters of Provence” - is the most in keeping with the spirit of the order and is located in the heart of the Var region in Thoronet. This religious monument, deliberately of great simplicity, was built in the 12th century by monks from the Mazan Abbey in Ardèche who paid particular attention to the light and acoustics of the site.

Not far from there, near Aix-en-Provence, Saint Bernard established the Cistercian Abbey of Silvacane in 1144. It owes its name to the swamps of the Durance River, full of reeds, which runs alongside it. Built of cut stones, this architectural masterpiece, a mix of Roman and Gothic styles, has managed to survive the years thanks to a more than century-long restoration!

And finally, the third sister, the Senanque Abbey, also founded in the 12th century, is located in Gordes in the Vaucluse where it is still occupied by Cistercian monks. It is recognizable by its vast field of lavender that gives it an incredible charm. The architecture of its cloister is renowned for its stone arches and columns.

A trio of Cistercian abbeys that are great to visit outside of peak tourist times, when silence has reasserted itself…


Discover
Abbaye du Thoronet
Départementale 279
Le Thoronet
Abbaye de Silvacane
Départementale 561
La Roque d’Anthéron
Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque
Gordes

Senanque, Silvacane, Thoronet The Cistercian Abbeys of Provence
Senanque, Silvacane, Thoronet The Cistercian Abbeys of Provence
Abbaye de Silvacane
Photographies José Nicolas
Senanque, Silvacane, Thoronet The Cistercian Abbeys of Provence
Senanque, Silvacane, Thoronet The Cistercian Abbeys of Provence
Abbaye du Thoronet
Photographies José Nicolas
Senanque, Silvacane, Thoronet The Cistercian Abbeys of Provence
Senanque, Silvacane, Thoronet The Cistercian Abbeys of Provence
Abbaye de Sénanque
Photographies José Nicolas

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