The Abbaye aux Dames is a majestic link between past and future
An iconic site in the town of Saintes, the Abbaye aux Dames forms a majestic link between the past and the future. For the past millennium, people have been thinking, sleeping, trading and praying at the abbey.
Nowadays, the abbey is a musical centre. It maintains creative movement by placing music at the heart of its activities. Each year, the Festival de Saintes is a major event where ancient music evolves toward a more contemporary approach. As for the abbey’s youth orchestra, it is a real springboard to the stage, with unique training on ancient instruments offered to young musicians from around the world.
The abbey also offers a connected, sensory way to explore the site in the form of Musicaventure. With headphones on your head and a digital device in your hand, set off on a journey of sound. This sensory approach to our heritage features music and song during your hour-long walk through the site.
Then, go for a ride on the Carrousel Musical (Musical Merry-Go-Round). The experience is unlike anything else. Visitors young and old enter under an enormous shell of mirrors and light and climb aboard a unique ride inhabited by the magic “Bazilik” and containing giant digital instruments.
The invention of the Carrousel Musical is the first of its kind in the world! Each go-round is different and produces an original musical score.
The hospitable abbey also welcomes visitors to its intentionally understated hotel rooms. The gift shop promotes local products, regional literature and musical work.
Back in the day, the abbey was the first women’s abbey in Saintonge. Founded in 1047, it would remain a seat of wealth and power for more than 700 years. The Sainte-Marie-aux-Dames abbey of Benedictine nuns was like a town within the town.
The white stone church and its portal populated with images, convent buildings, the 12th century “pine cone” bell tower, a gem of Romanesque art, the chapter house and the nuns’ cells all bear witness to the monastic life which unfolded there over the course of eight centuries.