New hotel to open within 12th-century French abbey
Few sites boast a history as rich and varied as that of the Fontevraud Abbey, located in the Loire Valley, France.
Through the centuries, areas of the massive religious site have been transformed into a hospital for lepers, a hospice for nuns, a prison, a cultural center and now, a hotel. Closed to the public in 2011, the site re-opens in 2014 following an extensive renovation.
The abbey, which was founded in the 12th century and is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will soon become the site of a four-star hotel with 54 rooms.
Developers spent 18 months on the new hotel located within the Saint-Lazare Priory, one of the Fontevraud Abbey's four former monasteries. The architectural firm Agence Jouin Manku oversaw the renovation of the site and the creation of the new hotel in collaboration with the Gabor Mester de Parajd, head architect for historical monuments.
The Agence Join Manku is known in particular for its work on the restaurant and bar at the Plaza Athénée in Paris and on Le Jules Verne, the gourmet restaurant located in the Eiffel Tower.
Modern tech meets medieval architecture
The architects were tasked with preserving the spirit of the historic site while adding the comforts of a four-star hotel and a touch of innovative technology.
The decor is refined, minimalist and elegant, featuring a range of whites and browns. Naturally, the vaulted ceilings have been maintained as a key detail of the priory's original structure.
At the same time, the hotel will be firmly anchored in the 21st century, as seen in its iBar, where visitors can consult touchscreen tablets to learn about the history of the site from 1101 to the present.
Gourmet dining in the priory
Designed in the same contemporary aesthetic as the rest of the property, the Fontevraud Abbey's gourmet restaurant will be headed up by the 2013 Bocuse d'Or winner Thibaut Ruggeri.
The 34-year-old chef will offer cuisine that is, in his own words, "creative, contemporary, sensorial, and representative of the values of French excellence."
Stretching across the priory's cloister, refectory and chapter hall, the restaurant will be able to accommodate over 80 guests. There will also be a separate banquet room.The hotel and restaurant will be opening to the public on June 1.