Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to access Fontenay without car? (by taxi/bike rental)
Yes, it is quite possible to access Fontenay without a car. Montbard TGV station is only 6 km from the abbey. Several taxi companies are available for transfer (between 18 and 24 €).
The following taxis are partners of the Tourist Office Montbard:
- Taxi Potet: 06 25 35 00 58
- Montbard Taxi: 06 08 82 20 61/06 08 99 32 39
- Allô Taxi: 06 08 26 61 55
- Taxis Hermitage: 06 08 99 32 13
- Taxi Galoseau: 06 14 72 42 94
Bikes can be rented at Montbard's Tourist Office: 03.80.92.53.81
Is there a parking fee?
No, parking is free at Fontenay, including for coaches.
Is Fontenay accessible to disabled persons?
Persons with reduced mobility can access and visit Fontenay in manual or electric wheelchair without any particular difficulty, except for the dormitory and video room that have stairs, and some doorways.
Can motor-homes park at night?
Motor-homes can exceptionally park overnight in the parking. However please note, that it is not a specially equipped RV area (no electrical connection or point of water).
Children and family
Are families with kids welcome to Fontenay?
Fontenay Abbey welcomes families to share with children the beauty of this place and let them see some of the roots of France. Discounted rates are available for families.
Is it possible to visit with a stroller?
Yes, it is quite easy to tour with a stroller. The Abbey has only one staircase to access the dormitory.
Is there any special activity for children?
Activities for children will be available shortly. Parents can get various children's books at the bookstore before visiting.
Are there special rates for families with children?
Yes, large families benefit from discounts and a small charge applies for the 3rd child.
Do monks still live in Fontenay?
Is there a religious presence?
There are no longer monks at Fontenay since the French Revolution.
Nowadays there is no continuous religious presence. However, Fontenay remains a much inspired place, where each can reflect or pray at his/her convenience. a Catholic Mass is celebrated yearly around September the 21st for the anniversary of the consecration of Fontenay in 1147.
Why is Fontenay a private property?
Fontenay is private property since the French Revolution because the state, which had confiscated the property from the monks, sold Fontenay to a private individual. This is what has preserved Fontenay from revolutionary destruction.
Fontenay has been owned since 1820 by the Montgolfier-Aynard family. For the past 200 years and still today, the family has spent its time and resources for the restoration, maintenance and public opening of the Abbey.
Does the Abbey receive public grants or subsidies?
No, contrary to popular belief, the owners of Fontenay do not receive any public grants or subsidies (form the State, or from the World Heritage organization). Only a few major restoration works are sometimes subsidized.
Instead, taxes and various public contributions represent on average 40 % of the entrance fee.
How expensive is the maintenance of Fontenay?
Maintenance of Fontenay is very expensive. The Abbey employs between 3 and 5 people, depending on the season, just for maintenance and garden care. Specialized external companies are also involved.
Roofs cover an area of about 20,000 m², which means about 1.5 million tiles!
Added to this is the maintenance, throughout the year, of more than 500 acres of gardens and valley which form the environment of the Abbey.
Receptions / Seminars / Photos
Can we organize a corporate event or a seminar?
Yes, corporate events are possible at Fontenay. Please look at the "Pro area" on this site.
Can we organize a private party?
No, the Abbey does not host any private reception, but only corporate events, on an exceptional basis.
Can we organize a wedding reception at Fontenay?
No, the Abbey only accepts (on an exceptional basis) corporate events. But newlyweds can be photographed at Fontenay.
Can we have our wedding photos shots at Fontenay?
Yes, it is a long lasting local tradition.
Many newlyweds immortalize their union with a photo shooting at Fontenay. Newlyweds from neighboring villages enter for free (with their photographer) on their wedding day (proof requested).
How long does it take to visit?
The visit of the Abbey takes between 30 minutes and 3 hours, depending on the desired level of detail. Fontenay can be enjoyed in a half day if you wish to include walks in the valley.
What is the best time of the year to visit?
Fontenay is enjoyed throughout the year in its different facets.
Spring and summer are the seasons of highest attendance, which allow for the experience of the light of Fontenay and gardens full of vitality. The lighting is especially pleasant mornings and evenings.
In autumn and winter one can enjoy Fontenay with few people, and feel better how monks lived. Fontenay covered with snow is an unforgettable sight.
Is advanced booking required?
It is not necessary to book in advance for individual visitors. It should be noted that in the summer, attendance is less intense in late afternoon.
It is however essential to book for group visits.
Are private tours available?
Yes, individual visitors can tour with a private guide. Please contact the staff for rates and booking details.
Is it possible to leave the area and return later the same day?
Yes, it is possible, you just need to present your entrance ticket of the day.
Is there any extra fee?
No, the entry fee includes the visit to the Abbey, its gardens and museum. The only supplements requested are for special events: concerts, candlelight evenings, etc.
What is the minimal group size for group rate?
Group rates are available from 15 paying visitors.
Are holiday vouchers accepted?
Yes, French holiday vouchers are accepted.
Can I pay with an American Express card?
Yes, American Express Cards are accepted.
Is there a special rate for disabled persons?
The general rate applies with the exception of free entrance for the blind.
Is there any furniture inside the buildings?
No, the buildings contain no furniture. The Cistercians lived in poverty, with little furniture which were destroyed or sold during the French Revolution. This allows today to contemplate better the wonderful architecture of Fontenay with its many details.
However, visitors can see various sculptures and objects in the museum, as well as the reconstruction of a hydraulic hammer in the Forge.
Is there an audio guide?
No, Fontenay is currently not equipped with audio-guides. Visits conducted by an experienced guide (duration 1 hour) are available at fixed times.
Is it possible to visit all the buildings?
Only four buildings are not open to the visit: the Abbot house, the Seguin wing, the pigeon house and the infirmary. These buildings have been converted into housing and offices in the nineteenth and twentieth century, and their interior is modern with no particular interest. They represent less than 10 % of the surface of the Abbey.
Meals / Drinks
Can we picnic in Fontenay?
No, it is not possible to picnic on the grounds of the Abbey. Specific spaces are available on roads around Fontenay.
Is it possible to buy local food products?
Yes, some local food products are available at the store.
Is there a restaurant?
There is currently no restaurant at Fontenay. However, there are vending machines for cold and hot drinks. There are many dining options around Fontenay and Montbard.