From 1820 to 1905
Fontenay Abbey was sold by the revolutionaries as a national asset, and transformed into a paper mill by the original purchaser.
It was bought in 1820 by the paper maker Elie de Montgolfier, nephew of the balloons inventors. It remained since then in the same family from generation to generation.
Marc Seguin, the inventor of suspension bridges and French railways, was the owner of Fontenay in 1838.
The paper factory closes in 1905, a victim of the 1870 war and the industrial revolution promoting the use of coal at the expense of hydraulic force.
From 1905 to today
At the end of the paper mill, Edouard Aynard, an art patron from Lyons who married a Montgolfier, undertakes an extensive restoration project without the help of an architect. He carefully studies the various buildings and devotes part of his fortune to remove the old abbey of its "industrial gangue."
The Abbey is then passed to his son and his grandson, father of the current owner.
Tourism is growing rapidly after 1970 to provide some of the resources necessary for the maintenance of the many buildings, the other part come from the family resources.
The Abbey is now maintained with passion by the same family. It carries constantly various works for visitors to enjoy a unique experience. The owners are very attentive that no false note comes distract the visitor's eye. With the exception of a few big restorations, the Abbey receives no subsidy from the state or the organization of the World Heritage.