Abbey of Thoronet
The most impressively preserved of Provence’s Cistercian abbeys, the Abbey of Thoronet was built between 1160 and 1230. Renowned for its sparse yet precise architecture and remarkable acoustics and now protected as a National Monument, the abbey offers fascinating insight into life under the Cistercian order of Saint Bernard.
Visitors can explore the abbey church, cloister, dormitory, and the living quarters of the monks, as well as the wine cellar with its old wine presses and olive presses. It’s worth exploring with a guide or audio guide to learn more about the site’s historical context, its extensive restoration, and the importance of its architecture. Day trips to the Abbey of Thoronet often combine a tour with nearby attractions such as the Cascades de Sillans waterfalls, the mountainside Provencal village of Cotignac, or wine tasting at one of the region’s many wine caves.
Things to Know Before You Go
There is an entrance fee to visit the Abbey of Thoronet, with free entrance for children under 18 and EU citizens under 26.
The abbey is sometimes used as a venue for classical concerts and Gregorian chants. The tourist information office in Thoronet can provide a calendar.
Audio guides are available in multiple languages including English; guided tours are in French.
Restrooms and a gift shop are located on-site. Free parking is available a short walk away, where you’ll also find a café (open from April to September only).
The abbey is not wheelchair-accessible.
How to Get There
The Abbey of Thoronet is located in the Var region of Provence, about a 1-hour drive east of Aix-en-Provence or west of Cannes. The site is easily reached with your own transport; otherwise it’s best to visit as part of a tour from Provence or the French Riviera.
When to Get There
The abbey is open all year round, although opening times vary from season to season, so it’s worth checking in advance. The site rarely gets crowded, even in peak season, and the cool shady interiors can provide welcome respite from the midsummer heat.
The Three Sisters of Provence
The Abbey of Thoronet is one of a trio of Cistercian abbeys in the region founded by St. Bernard of Clairvaux and nicknamed the Three Sisters of Provence. The most recent of the three is the Abbey of Silvacane, which is known for its Romanesque architecture. Located close to Gordes, the Abbey of Sénanque is the most visited of the three and a popular inclusion on sightseeing tours of Provence. It makes a striking spot to admire the famous Provence lavender fields, which bloom outside of the abbey from mid-June to July.