"Sainte Marie de la Pierre-qui-Vire Monastery" Saint-Léger-Vauban by JoostvandenVondel
Saint-Léger-Vauban Travel Guide: 1 reviews and 6 photos
Although Sunday mass attendance in France, like in other western countries, has dropped since the 1960s, France is still a Catholic country and its numerous monasteries have experienced an incredible increase of visitors over the last ten years. It seems as if the consumer society really is incapable of fulfilling each individual, and many of us are in search of something more profound in life.
Monasteries in France welcome fellow Catholics, Christians, people of other faiths and also agnostics who feel drawn to a spiritual site. I really love this place and although I went there with the goal of discernment in the summer of 2006, I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a spot to truly unwind and get in touch with themselves.
You are first welcomed by a 'Pere hotelier' who explains the working of the monastery and shows you to your room. Activities are limited but nonetheless uplifting: the monks pray five to seven times a day and you can join them in their beautiful chapel (the psalms are sung, for the most part, in French rather than in Latin). 'Vigiles' are sung at two o'clock in the morning, and if you have the courage to do so, I highly recommend getting up and joing the monks for this incredible moment; walking in the beautiful forest around the monastery (part of the Morvan region of Burgundy) is very relaxing and at times a monk will organise a 'silent walk' through the forest paths; on particular days of the week, a short talk is given by a monk who explains a piece of Scripture (in French); if you have something in particular that you want to discuss, you can confide in a spiritual advisor if you wish, they are extremely helpful. Aside from that, there is a little shop, a nice little museum explaining benedictine life in the monastery and lots of time for reading, resting, reflecting....
You don't eat with the monks, you eat in a refectory reserved for guests. Breakfast and dinner are eaten in silence (classical music plays in the background) and speaking during lunch is permitted. The food is good, the rooms simple, but spotless. The rule of Saint Benedict requires monasteries to welcome visitors free of charge, but they give you an estimated price of what you could donate (I think it was between 19 and 30 euros a night). But again, it is completely up to your discretion.
If you decide to go for a weekend or a couple of days, the 'Pere hotelier' will tell you how best to get there. There are two ways, but for me I took the TGV train from Gare de Lyon in Paris to Montbard where you catch a bus from the front of the train station to Cussy-les-Forges. At that point a taxi will pick you up and drop you at the monastery (+/- 20 euros). The 'Pere hotelier' will organise the taxi for you, and don't worry, they only use one taxi service (a family firm) and they are very faithful to tourists heading to the monastery. If you are driving there, the directions are given on the monastery's website: http://www.abbaye-pierrequivire.asso.fr .
I don't know how well they speak English, but even with limited French I'm sure your stay there will be memorable. The surrounding countryside of Burgundy is stunning, so if you're in the region, a stop here will be worth your while.
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