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Citeaux, France: Abbay Notre-Dame de Citeaux

About Abbay Notre-Dame de Citeaux:

Founded in 1098 by Robert of Molesme, the Abbey of Cîteaux is the birthplace of the Cistercian Order. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who would later be proclaimed Doctor of the Church, was a monk of Cîteaux Abbey and left it in 1115 to found Clairvaux Abbey, of which he became the first abbot.

The great church of Cîteaux Abbey was begun around 1140 and completed in 1193. The Dukes of Burgundy subsequently used it as their dynastic place of burial.

By the beginning of the 13th century the Cistercian order had grown to more than 500 houses and Cîteaux became an important center of Christianity. In 1244, King Louis IX of France (Saint Louis) and his mother Blanche of Castile visited the abbey.

Not all activities were those of prayer: The Pont des Arvaux is a canal aqueduct crossing the Sans Fond over the Varaude. Overseeing the construction of this bridge between 1212 and 1221, the monks of Cîteaux were able to extend the course of the Sans-Fond to their abbey to meet their water needs. It’s a hydraulic civil engineering work built of stone.

The monastery was pillaged in during the Hundred Years War in 1360 and the monks sought refuge in Dijon. By the beginning of the 16th century, the abbey was a strong community of about 200 members. In 1791, during the French Revolution, the abbey was seized and the property sold off by the government.

The Abbay Notre-Dame de Citeaux today:

Monk holding heese made at Citeaux Abbey in FranceThe monks at Cîteaux Abbey produce cheese an authentic monastic cheese: it is one of the rare ones to still be made and matured within the abbey itself by the monks, with milk from their own herd.

In the early 2010s the monks renovated the area where the cheese was made with a goal toward automating time-consuming tasks and thus be able to devote more time to their spiritual life. Despite this automation, much of the manual work remains. While maturing in the cellars the cheeses are washed by hand regularly, one by one, with a salt water solution to give them suppleness and promote the expression of taste.

The monks also produce acacia honey candies and herbal teas.


Visiting The Abbay Notre-Dame de Citeaux:

Tours are available to the public, lasting a bit over one hour.  Visiting the historic buildings of ancient Cîteaux allows you to discover monastic life and Cistercian tradition. This spiritual and cultural journey, exceptionally within the monastic enclosure, leads you, through 900 years of history, to the living community of today.

All tours are guided and limited to 25 people, and reservations are required.  If your group does not speak French, then you will need to provide an interpreter (check with the local tourist office).

Visitors can participate in monastic services and Sunday Mass (in French)

Shop products at Abbay Notre-Dame de Citeaux:

You can shop online for a variety of products made by the monks, but they are neither exhaustive nor permanent; for any questions, do not hesitate to contact them at: boutiqueciteaux@gmail.com

Sorry, cheese lovers…..they do not ship cheeses.


Traveling to Abbay Notre-Dame de Citeaux:

The abbey is located in the valley of the Saône, in the heart of Burgundy.  If you want to visit from Paris, it is about 200 mile journey to Dijon, the nearest transportation hub.

Address:  21700 Saint-Nicolas-lès-Cîteaux

Tel:  +33  03 80 61 11 53 – Fax: 03 80 61 31 10

email:  monastere@citeaux-abbaye.co

Click here for the official website of the Abbay Notre-Dame de Citeaux.

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