Nestled among the bucolic green pastures of grazing sheep in Normandy are the ruins of the Abbey of St. Evroul. In its heyday—in the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries—this sanctuary was a powerhouse for music, religion, intellectual thought, and education. The choir was famous throughout Normandy, and its monks spread their traditions and teachings across France.
Though the abbey (formerly known as the Abbey of Ouche) was founded in 560 by a hermit, it was a Benedictine monk named Lanfranc, otherwise known as “defender of the Eucharist,” who restored it in the 11th century, with some help. Once his renovations were complete, he collected an impressive group of monks—famous writers, musicians, an accomplished doctor, and other monks with serious clout—to literally make it sing.
Sadly, the abbey’s glory days fizzled in the 14th century. Things continued to go downhill as the buildings changed hands. The lead in the roof was looted, and no one stepped up to pay for a new one. Finally, after centuries of neglect, the abbey was declared a monument in 1936 to prevent ifs further decline.
Today, it’s an absolutely idyllic spot for a picnic lunch. You can gaze at the lake as you imagine song bursting forth from within its 1,500-year-old walls.
Know Before You Go
Bring a picnic lunch!