A little history of l'Epau abbey
The queen's abbey
We are here in one of the last Cistercian abbey raised in France.
Let’s meet Berengaria, the queen Berengaria, king of Navarre’s daughter, king of England’s wife (Richard Lionheart).
She married him in 1191... When this one died in 1199, she founded l’Epau in 1230.
The queen was 60 years old, she knew she was dying and wanted above all to found an abbey.
So she owned several lands, woods and farm near Le Mans and founded it. Cistercian Monks came and raised buildings: they even created ingenious irrigation system!
A time for building
They raised the church between 1230 and 1234. Other buildings were built later and completed in 1252.
But some of them were destroyed during Hundred Years War... This terrible war damaged l’Epau, especially the church, in 1365: Le Mans inhabitants destroyed the building themselves, to prevent English troops to occupy it! It was re-raised in the beginning of the 15th century.
Berengaria died in 1230. Richard Lionheart was buried in Fontevrault, but the queen was buried in l’Epau. In 1281, they translated her remains in Le Mans cathedral, where we still can see them...
The visit includes the chapter room, the sacristy with 14th century frescos, the church of course.