Discover the importance of the sublime 7th-century monastery in this Loire Valley town. Picnic on the scenic terrain beside the Loire River.
While the Loire region is best known for its castles, Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire stands out for the 7th-century Fleury Abbey. The monastery has survived attacks and pillages from several warring factions over the centuries. See its Romanesque façade rising over the pleasant meadows of this rustic town.
The abbey is among the most prestigious sites in France. Visit the Benedictine monastery, where about 30 monks live. The abbey once had two churches, but one was demolished in the 1700s. Enter the surviving church to admire its stately columns and arches. Gaze up at the tall ceiling and appreciate the space in this religious structure.
Admire the mosaic floor pattern beside the tomb of King Philip I. Delve into the moody 11th-century crypt and discover the shrine of St. Benedict of Nursia. It purports to hold the body of the holy person who founded many European communities for monks.
Visit the truncated bell tower, which has three portals at its base and several grand windows. Notable attacks on the abbey include those of the French Revolution and multiple Norman conquests.
Outside the abbey lies a fertile terrain of hilly meadows ideal for picnics. Share croissants with friends while enjoying picturesque views of rural land and the abbey. The Romans initially called this area “The Golden Valley of Fleury.” Drive around and stop at restaurants serving the region’s acclaimed Loire wines.
Head west from the abbey to reach the port along the Loire River. It has benches, exhibits, floral displays and stone paths.
Arrive in the area via a 2-hour drive south from Paris, which has the nearest major airport. The village is in the Loiret department just north of the center of France. Visit nearby towns including Saint-Jean-le-Blanc, Lamoutte-Beuvron and the famous city of Orléans 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest.
Although Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire focuses on the abbey, be sure to visit the nearby majestic châteaus in the heart of French castle region.