Abbaye de Bon-Repos
An arty abbey
At the western end of the Lac de Guerlédan overlooking the Nantes-Brest canal, the Abbaye de Bon Repos is a must for lovers of contemporary art. The 12th-century Cistercian abbey hosts regular exhibitions, a weekly farmers’ market and a spectacular son et lumière in August.
The abbey was founded by Viscount Alain III de Rohan, who, according to legend, was asked to build it by the Virgin Mary; she appeared to him in a dream when he fell asleep on this spot after a hard day’s hunting in the Quénécan Forest (hence the name: ‘bon repos’ meaning ‘good rest’). After a tumultuous history, which included being burnt down by the Chouans (Royalists) in 1795, the abbey fell into ruin until it was rescued in 1986 by the local community who founded the Association of Friends of Bon Repos Abbey. Thanks to the association, part of the abbey has been restored although the main body is an empty shell.
Nowadays the abbey is devoted to nurturing contemporary art by having artists in residence and holding regular exhibitions. ‘Murmures’ is held every two years (next one 2011) and invites guest artists to create a dialogue between the abbey and its natural environment via sound. This event alternates with ‘Atmospheres’ (next one 2010), where artists work with the local community to explore the relationship between identity and environment using a variety of media; a trail is created across six communes and allows access to places that are often closed to the public.
Sound and vision
The abbey’s most spectacular event takes place in August – a son et lumière, which recounts Brittany’s history from Neolithic times to the Revolution. The show uses more than 400 actors, 1200 costumes, 45 dogs and 35 horses and ends with an unforgettable parade of 500 flaming torches as well as a firework display. Find out more about the Historic Show.
And there’s more
A farmers’ market takes place in the abbey grounds on Sunday mornings from March to October. While you’re there, check out the crystal shop and the dried-flower seller. There’s also a café, a crêperie and a charming hotel-restaurant.
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