Le Thoronet Abbey (Abbaye du Thoronet) is a former Cistercian monastery from the thirteenth century. It is located in the beautiful valley in Provence (near Lorgues, Carcès and Entrecasteaux), characterized by natural tranquility and harmony of nature. This abbey has well-preserved buildings and is an example of how impressive can be a Romanesque architectural style. When you visit the abbey you will find out how in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries monks lived and worked. Together with the abbeys of Sénanque and Silvacane it creates a set of three major monasteries in Provence.
Le Thoronet Abbey is located about 4 km from the village of the same name, in a beautiful oak forest. We arrive at the abbey using road D79 and then we park the car in the free parking lot among the trees (GPS: 43.461037, 6.260370). At a time when we arrived, there were a lot of free places, but in the tourist season the parking lot can be full of cars, so you should better arrive in the morning.
From the parking lot we walk about 100 meters a nice path through the forest. We go through the gate and then enter the building, which contains a cashbox, bookshop and a gift shop (A; GPS: 43.460338, 6.262896).
From April to the end of September the abbey is open from 10:00 until 18:30 (with a break on Sunday between 12:00 and 14:00). In other months the abbey can also be visited, but the opening hours are shorter (more details on the abbey's website). Ticket prices are as follows (as for 2017): 8€ - normal ticket, 6.5€ - reduced ticket.
After buying tickets we enter the very area of the abbey, which consists of several buildings and open space - a sort of garden with trees, shrubs and fountains. Then we go to the church building (B; GPS: 43.460303, 6.264107) with an interesting Romanesque barrel vault. From the church we go to the dormitory, which is the room where the monks slept. From the dormitory we go downstairs to the inner courtyard (C; GPS: 43.460648, 6.263867) with nice galleries and a fountain. Under the dormitory there is a chapter house, where larger meetings of monks were held. From the inner courtyard you can also enter a room with books read daily by monks (armarium), the cellar (cellarium) and the place where they could talk (parlor). At the abbey you can also find some facilities for the olive oil extraction.