Montmajour Abbey

Abbey in Arles

Abbaye De Montmajour, Arles
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Airair

Montmajour Abbey, formally known as the Abbey of St. Peter in Montmajour, stands as a monumental testament to the Benedictine monastic tradition, evolving architecturally from the 10th to the 18th centuries. Situated five kilometers north of Arles, in the picturesque Bouches-du-Rhône Department of Provence, France, this former island abbey embodies centuries of religious, cultural, and architectural history.

The Hermitage and Chapel of St. Peter

Originating in the 11th century, the hermitage includes the Chapel of St. Peter, the abbey’s oldest structure, offering a sanctuary carved into the rock, adorned with Romanesque arches and columns bearing floral designs.

The Cloister

Constructed across the 12th and 13th centuries, the cloister serves as the heart of the abbey, featuring a cistern at its center and galleries adorned with carvings of mythical beasts and foliage.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross

The 12th-century Chapel of the Holy Cross houses a revered relic of the True Cross, standing as a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture with its cross-shaped design and elegant symmetry.

The Fortified Monastery and Tower of Abbot Pons de l’Orme

The 14th-century fortified Monastery of St. Peter and the Tower of Abbot Pons de l’Orme reflect the abbey’s strategic importance, with the tower boasting defensive features like battlements and machicolations.

The Maurist Monastery

The 17th-century Maurist monastery, now in ruins, represents the classical architectural style, hinting at the grand scale of monastic life before the French Revolution.

Historical Significance and Legends

Montmajour Abbey’s early history is steeped in legends, including its association with St. Trophimus and Charlemagne’s soldiers. Its strategic location, once an island accessible only by boat, served as a refuge and a sacred burial ground since the 3rd millennium BC.

Artistic Legacy

The abbey’s influence extends into the realm of art, most notably through Vincent van Gogh, who captured the surrounding landscape and the abbey itself in numerous paintings and drawings, expressing the site’s profound impact on his work.

Preservation and Recognition

Listed as a monument historique since 1840, Montmajour Abbey is now cared for by the Centre des monuments nationaux, ensuring its historical and architectural legacy continues to inspire and educate future generations.

Montmajour Abbey remains a poignant symbol of spiritual devotion and architectural ingenuity, reflecting the layered history of Provence and standing as a beacon of cultural heritage in the heart of southern France.

The Montmajour Abbey appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Arles!

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Visiting Montmajour Abbey


April 1 to May 31: 10h – 17h

June 1 to September 30: 10h – 18h15

October 1 to March 31: 10am – 5pm

Closed Mondays, January 1, May 1, November 11 and December 25.



Address: Abbaye de Montmajour, Route de Fontvieille, Arles, France
Duration: 20 minutes

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