Cadouin abbey, Dordogne visitors guide

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Cadouin abbey is an abbey in the southern part of the Dordogne department, in the village of Cadouin to the south of Limeuil and Tremolat.

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France This Way comment: although the abbey church at Cadouin is perhaps not exceptional, you will also visit the adjacent cloister and explore the village as part of the same excursion: together they make for a pleasant trip. The abbey is easy to find when you arrive in Cadouin: it is a small village and a big abbey!

The first religious community was established here in July 1115, by Gérard de Sales, the Canon at nearby Saint-Avit-Sénieur, and work on building the church started in 1118. The majority of the building was completed by 1154, at which time the church was consecrated.

Nave of the abbey church in Cadouin

By 1214 the monastery had acquired a shroud, brought here after the First Crusade and said to be the shroud that wrapped the head of Jesus. This claim was disproved in the 20th century when the shroud was proved to have 11th century origins, but during eight centuries the shroud attracted large numbers of pilgrims to Cadouin.

During the Hundred Years War there was an enormous amount of damage to the abbey buildings in Cadouin and the cloth was removed to Toulouse for safe-keeping. It returned here in 1461 after the end of the war. The cloisters attached to the abbey needed to be completely rebuilt because of the damage.

There was a religious community here until the revolution, at which time monastic communities were no longer permitted. In addition to the church and cloister some of the other abbey buildings are now used as Cadouin youth hostel.

Being in the roman style, the facade of the abbey is rather plain except for the entrance which has a serieds of concentric arches. Higher on the facade there is a series of blind arches and one of the three small round windows of the church.

The interior of the church is rather plain: there is a nave and two side aisles, separated by large stone arches. In the apse of the church the dome has been painted with a fresco, and you can also see several carved 'capital stones' on the columns in the church: those in the choir area are the most interesting.

The cloister was added later, in the 15th century, and is also more decorated than the church: see cloister of Cadouin abbey for details.

Apse with painted ceiling in Cadouin abbey church

There is no charge to enter the abbey church, although there is a charge to enter the cloister.

Attractions nearby

You can visit the 15th century cloisters of Cadouin abbey next door to the church, and this is an important part of your visit. You will also want to explore the village of Cadouin, with its cafes and gift shops, and traditional architecture. There are several viewpoints on the hills around the village that have views of the abbey and village together.

Not far from here at Saint-Avir-Senieur you can stroll around the ruins of another abbey, and you should also visit the village of Molieres which is also small but largely unchanged from its original medieval layout and appearance.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Dordogne guide and the Aquitaine guide.

See also:

Map of Cadouin abbey and places nearby

Visit near Cadouin abbey with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Dordogne

Plan your visit to Cadouin abbey, Dordogne

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Le-Buisson-de-Cadouin eglise abbatiale (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site
  • Jardin de Planbuisson: remarkable garden (5 km)
  • Jardins de la Bourlie: remarkable garden (6 km)
  • Saint-Avit Eglise (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (6 km)
  • Eglise de Saint-Hilaire et Eglise de Saint-Nicholas (Tremolat): religious monument (8 km)
  • Limeuil: most beautiful village (8 km)
  • Eglise Sainte-Croix (Beaumont-du-Perigord): religious monument (9 km)
  • Eglise de saint-Pierre (Audrix): religious monument (10 km)
  • Abbaye de Saint Martial (Paunat): religious monument (10 km)
  • Eglise Notre Dame de l'Assomption (Belves): religious monument (11 km)
  • Belves: most beautiful village (11 km)
  • Jardin de Conty: remarkable garden (14 km)

The French version of this page is at Cadouin abbey (Francais)