glorious Senanque abbey in Provence
The 12-century medieval Sénanque abbey is one of France's classic sights, and one of the finest places to experience Provence's famed lavender fields. Despite seeing it in photos, you're unprepared for how breathtaking this Cistercian property is ... how beautifully austere the weathered stone is, how harmonious the proportions of it's Romanesque architecture.
This is one of the last functioning Cistercian abbeys in Western Europe. As with all such abbeys, income here is derived from agriculture (lavender, olives, honey & wheat) and tourist revenue (donations, entrance fees, gift shop sales). And - sometimes - lodgers. People wanting a quiet, spiritual retreat come stay here (up to 8 days) at a modest price of €30/day. This means sharing meals in silence with the Cistercian brothers, and any services conducted throughout the day. Since it's all in silence, language isn't a barrier.