Inside Visits

Inside Visits

The Gothic Refectory

Former refectory for nuns, the 13th century hall hosts temporary exhibitions all year round.

Actor of local cultural life, the abbey with its exhibition hall is also a reference site for major regional and national cultural events: Normandy Impressionism, the European Heritage Days are all events that have found here a site to their measure.

Resolutely open to all artistic expressions from here and elsewhere, the Gothic refectory of the abbey welcomes painters, plastic artists, sculptors, photographers from a rich and varied universe.

The cloister

The cloister of the abbey is made up of an ornamental garden with its clumps of boxwood drawing a Maltese cross decorated with hearts surrounded by four galleries in frame and not in stone. This particularity is linked to the absence of documents informing of its original appearance. It is therefore an evocation rather than a reconstruction which was carried out during the restoration of the convent buildings carried out between 1997 and 2000.

Sheltered from the excitement of the city center by the old buildings of the nuns’ life, the place is conducive to relaxation.

The chapter house

Built in the 11th century as a continuation of the construction of the abbey church, the chapter house – or chapter room – is the oldest preserved part of convent buildings. With its semi-circular barrel vault and massive walls, it is representative of the Romanesque art of Normandy.

It is in this place that the nuns met regularly under the direction of the abbess to organize the activities of the community obedient to the Benedictine Rule.

The abbess’s dwelling

Intended for accommodate the abbess’s private apartments, the building includes a bedroom, a dining room and a kitchen separate from that of the nuns.

In the 18th century, the original building, which was too dilapidated, was demolished except for the facade on the cloister side. A new, more spacious building is erected.

After the departure of the nuns in 1792, the building underwent many uses: a garrison period then used for industrial purposes throughout the 19th century, it was finally sold after 1920.

Restored from 1989 to 1994, this building now houses the Condorcet Municipal Library.

13th and 16th century dormitories

The nuns’ dormitories were installed above the refectories. They consisted of a common space without partitions. Their buildings have been preserved, one dating from the 13th century, the other from the 16th century.

Different in style, they are however composed of the same materials found in abundance in Normandy: flint and limestone. The builders used their nuances with dexterity to create decorative effects on the facades: installation in checkerboard, horizontal strips or uniform panels with almost no visible joints.