10 Reasons to Visit the Abbaye de Flaran 



10 Reasons to Visit the Abbaye de Flaran 

Founded in 1151, the Cistercian Flaran Abbey lies just south of Condom, halfway between Agen and Auch in the Baïse valley. Its buildings date from the 12th to the 18th centuries and the abbey is one of the best preserved in the southwest of France – so much so that its buildings and gardens are classified as Historic Monuments. 

1. A remarkably preserved Cistercian abbey

The monastic buildings and gardens, located in the middle of a huge park, reveal the original Cistercian buildings as they appeared in the 12th century and through their various remodellings into the 18th century. Around the cloister (12th-14th century) and the church (12th-13th century), this surprisingly well-preserved architectural ensemble covers more than 2000m² and offers a unique insight into the life led by the Cistercian community which settled here during the Middle Ages at the height of the order’s influence.

The Abbaye de Flaran as seen from the air

2. Details in every corner

As you stroll through the cloister and its enclosed garden, pause to look up at the carved capitals atop the columns, one of the many treasures of medieval history awaiting you. Allow your imagination to transport you back through the centuries as you pass the rooms which lead off the cloister, where the monks’ carried out their daily routines. 

The cloisters and garden

3. A day in the life of a monk

The abbey’s kitchen allows you to fully immerse yourself in the day-to-day life of the medieval monks. A sink, stoves, a hearth and a serving hatch to the refectory conjure up the warmth and liveliness of the communal dining of the period. 

The kitchen

4. The beautiful chapter room

Head into the chapter room, supported by marble columns, and see where the monks would have sat on wooden benches lining the walls, listening as the abbot dealt with the administration of the abbey and organisation of its inhabitants. 

The chapter room

5. An exceptional church that has been used for centuries

The church catered for two sections of the abbey’s community. First there were the monks, bound by the Rule of St. Benedict and observing the seven daily offices of prayer. Then there were the lay brothers, who were not bound by the same services because of their work in the fields. Nowadays, because of its fantastic acoustics, the abbey church is used to host concerts. 

Inside the church

6. Don’t miss the art exhibitions in the dormitory

Today, the dormitory, where all those centuries ago the devout inhabitants of the abbey would seek their rest, hosts exhibitions of painting and sculpture worthy of the greatest Parisian museums. From Renoir to Monet and from Rodin to Picasso, alongside lesser-known names too, exhibitions are held throughout the year.

The dormitory

7. Kid-friendly activities

The Moinillons et Nonettes cell, housed in one of the dormitory rooms, allows children to have fun and discover art in a different way through games and tactile works while mums and dads discover the exceptional works of the Simonow Collection. 

Youngsters can play educational games

8. Gorgeous gardens

There are three glorious hectares of historic gardens, recognised as an Historic Monument in their own right, which you can enjoy on the banks of the Baïse river. Within the grounds, the monastic garden was redeveloped in the 18th century into a so-called ‘French-style’ pleasure garden. For several years, part of it, next to the dovecote, has been home to a medieval-inspired garden, which, reminiscent of the ancient monks’ garden, consists of several parts. The most important of these is le jardin des simples or herbularius, which houses the medicinal plants formerly used by the monks. Then there are the vegetable garden, orchard and vines, plus, nearby, an area of meadow which is mown just once a year to help preserve the biodiversity of the site.  

The historic gardens

9. A rich calendar of events

Far from being stuck in the past, all year round the Abbey, with its many different spaces and vast gardens, hosts a rich variety of exhibitions, workshops and other cultural activities to suit all tastes. It is home to the renowned Simonow Collection, and until mid-January 2026, the heritage centre is hosting its ‘Cities and Campaigns’ exhibition, concepts which have their roots in the Middle Ages and which truly asserted themselves in the 19th century. It offers visitors an exceptional deep dive into the history of European art. 

The Abbey hosts a rich programme of arts and cultural events

10. A dip into modern life with an escape game

Get together with family or friends, to discover the history and grounds of this historic Cistercian abbey by playing an escape game. The challenge – to find out where has Brother Mathieu has gone – reveals the secrets of monastic life. And that’s not all – there is a whole host of activities to discover here, all of which help to bring this wonderful medieval gem to life.

For more information, visit www.abbayedeflaran.fr 

Enjoy a visit with a difference by playing an escape game

Lead photo credit : Abbaye de Flaran - Gers, © J.P Renais/Flickr

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