The Notre Dame de Lérins Abbey

A Cistercian monastery on the island of Saint Honorat off the coast of Cannes

Situated on the island of Saint Honorat off the coast of Cannes, the Notre Dame de Lérins Abbey is a Cistercian monastery. 

The abbey was founded around 410AD when Saint Honorat came here with the intention of living as a hermit but was soon joined by his disciples. Together they formed a community that became “an immense monastery” around the year 427. According to legend, Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, studied here in the 5th century.

The present-day monastery dates from 1073. Following incursions by the Saracens and the Spanish, a fortified monastery was built between the 11th and 14th centuries. At that time, the community adhered to the Clunaic Reforms.

In the Middle Ages, the abbey became an important pilgrimage site. But in the 17th and 18th centuries the attacks by the Spanish and the Genoese continued and only four monks remained before its dissolution in 1787. The French state, landowner since the Revolution, sold the island to a rich actress, Mademoiselle de Sainval, who lived there for 20 years.

In 1859, the bishop of Fréjus acquired the island and ten years later a Cistercian monastery was founded and has been active since.

Today, open or guided tours are offered. The visitor can discover the fortified monastery with the main church dedicated to Saint Honorat in its centre and the Sainte-Marie church to the north. Also the 11th/12th century cloisters that border the common rooms such as the chapter room and refectory. The chapels, numbering seven, are distributed over the island. Finally, the hot shot furnaces remind us that the island and even the monastery had the role of defending the French coast.

Since 2011, the Lérins Abbey organizes the Festival of Silence, which takes place at the same time as the Cannes Film Festival.

Abbaye de Lérins - Ile Saint-Honorat - CS 10040 - 06414 Cannes cedex

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