les Rues-des-Vignes

Contacts | Background

Vaucelles Abbey

1. The magnificent monastery rooms are a backdrop for cultural events
2. At the time of the French Revolution church property was confiscated and sold off for building material

Ruins brought to life
Standing in La Salle des Moines (the monks' room), you can almost see rows of monks patiently copying and embellishing Latin manuscripts in the soft daylight of their scriptorium. They worked in absolute silence, the rule of the Cistercian order.

You walk on to the only place where the monks were allowed to talk - L'auditorium or Parloir.

After 20 years of restoration work, these are two of the four rooms of this once enormous abbey that have been re-opened to the public. There is also the Salle capitulaire, 60 feet long with oustanding acoustics. Here the monks listened to twice daily readings from the book of their founder,La Regle de Saint Benoît, and the exhortations of their abbot.

In the Passage Sacré the monks put on their robes before going into the church as the bell called them to pray - several times a day. Of the Church itself only ruins remain - but enough for you to see that it was the biggest Cistercian church in Europe, 150 yards long - bigger than the Notre-Dame in Paris.

The Abbey before the Revolution
Founded in the 12th century by Saint Benoît, the monastery was given 6,000 acres of forest on the banks of the river Escaut by the local lord, in exchange for expiation of his sins. Apart from their religious devotions, the community of monks undertook charitable works. On religious holidays they would feed 3,000 poor people and workers from nearby villages.

3. Large parts of what remained of the Abbey were burnt down in the First World War. One wing has recently been restored, including a large hall with magnificent acoustics. 4. The Abbey gardens.

Closed and in ruins
During the Revolution the abbey was closed, its property confiscated, and much of it demolished for building materials. The remaining fragments of the once beautiful abbey were further damaged in the German occupation of the First World War, when the church and library were burnt down in fighting.

Cultural centre
Today the restored parts of the Abbey are also a beautiful setting for cultural events such as concerts.

River Trips to Vaucelles
Boat trips from Cambrai, along River Escaut and St.Quentin canal.

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Location:Vaucelles Abbey
Les Rues-des-Vignes
12km south of Cambrai
Take Sortie 9 from A26 autoroute for "Masnières"
Information/ reservations:
Tel: 00 33 3 27 78 50 65 or
00 33 3 27 78 98 98

Background information
The Church and religion
French Revolution
First World War





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