Set in the Escaut valley - 8 miles from Cambrai and 15 miles from St Quentin - the Vaucelles Abbey is one of the most prestigious monuments in the North of France and was founded in 1132 by Saint Bernard. Thirteenth daughter of Clairvaux, it was one of the largest in the Cistercian world.
The monks' quarters were started in 1145. They are 80 m in long, 18,50 m wide and are composed of 4 halls open to the public:
1. The monks' room or scriptorium: where the monks used to work on manuscripts;
2. The auditorium or parlour, built in 1155, is where the prior used to give out advice concerning the day's tasks;
3. The chapter house: completed in 1175, is the biggest Cistercian chapter house in Europe
4. The gem of the abbey; when the bell rang, the monks went to the holy passage to put on their white cowl and then file into the chancel of the church to sing their divine service. This area houses the remains of the monastery's first three abbots, canonized by Pope Alexander III in 1179.
The abbey has been restored since 1971 and is now a showcase for numerous artistic events. It can be visited from March through until October. Soon The Departement du Nord will purchase it and will be in charge of future renovation.
Open from mid-March to the end of october from
Tuesday to Sat from 10am to noon and 2pm to 5.30pm
(3pm to 6.30pm on Sundays and public holidays)
Closed on Mondays (except in July and August)
From Nov to March : open to groups only on reservation.
Adults : 7€
Children over 7 : 4€50