The troglodyte Abbey of Saint-Roman

An unusual walk in the Rhone Valley

A stone's throw from Beaucaire and Tarascon, on the Aiguille Hill, you can visit the old cave monastery of Saint-Romain, an amazing and moving spot hollowed out of the limestone rock. You will discover there many vestiges of monastic life but above all a vast cemetery from which you can admire a magnificent panorama over the Rhône, the Alpilles, the Luberon and the Mont Ventoux.

You reach the monastery by way of an approximately 600-metre trail that winds through the holm oaks, Aleppo pines, broom shrubs and cistus, plants characteristic of the Mediterranean scrubland. There is an entry fee for visiting the site. A marked-out path guides you throughout your tour into the entrails of the rock: abbey chapel, monks' cells, the vast chamber... and onto the terrace where many tombs carved into the rock look out over the surrounding landscape. A spot for reflection and reverence that could not help taking on a mystical vocation.

This small limestone mountain range dotted with caves was already inhabited in prehistoric times by tribes of hunters. History recounts that monks settled there at the end of the 5th century. Followers of Saint Roman, himself a disciple of Saint Jean Cassien who had been with the monks in the Egyptian desert, they adopted a monastic way of life inspired by that of the monks of Eastern Christianity (the hermitic and monastic sites of Egypt and Cappadocia).

In the 7th and 8th centuries, the monks embraced the order of Saint Benedict; the monastery became a Benedictine abbey and an important pilgrimage spot to which people came to venerate Saint Roman and St Trophimus.

In the 14th century, Pope Urban V set up a studium there where a free education was given to young people who had a gift for studies, whether they were rich or poor.  

Following the departure of the popes from Avignon, the abbey went slowly into decline. It was finally sold to a private individual who finished fortifying it and built a small château on the terrace. One of the last owners sold off the stones from this château during the first half of the 19th century.

Remaining abandoned for a long time, the town of Beaucaire acquired the site in 1988. It was listed a Historic Monument in 1991.

Cemetery at the cave abbey of Saint-Roman and view over the Rhône Valley

The abbey chapel and, in the centre of the choir, the reliquary of Saint-Roman and Saint-Trophime

The Abbey of Saint-Roman: the abbot's chair and the prior's seat

The chapel's ceiling, partly collapsed due to erosion

Funeral recess, tombs digged out of the walls

Large grain silo carved out of the rock in the cave abbey

The troglodyte abbey of Saint-Roman at the top the Aiguille Mountain

Abbaye de Saint-Roman - 30300 Beaucaire

+33 (0)4 66 59 19 72

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