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Cistercian Abbey of Senanque
Surrounded in the hollow of its valley, Notre-Dame of Senanque Abbey remains as one of the purest witnesses of the primitive Cistercian architecture. This active abbey is located in the commune of Gordes, in the French department of Vaucluse and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.
Founded in 1148, it became an abbey in 1150. It is part of the "three Provencal sisters", with the abbey of Silvacane and the abbey of Thoronet, which testify to the great radiance of the Cistercian order in Provence.
Today the priory of the abbey of Lérins, the monastery, located in the valley where the Senancole flows, is still occupied by a community of Cistercian monks of the Cistercian Congregation of the Immaculate Conception.
The abbey church, of a very sober Romanesque style, is built in limestone, cut and assembled in large regular apparatus. The roofs are covered with slate. It has an infrequent orientation, the conodine being oriented to the north-east and the main facade to the south-west. Usually symbolic, this one was determined by the sense of the valley. The chevet is composed of a single semicircular apse. This apse is crowned with a molded cornice and is pierced by three bays in semicircular simple frames surmounted each one of an arcade in the form of eyebrow. It rests on the crossing of the transept which has cut-outs, holes of boulin and a protruding cornice supported by geometric crows.
The crossing of the transept is surmounted by a small square bell tower pierced also with holes of boulin and crowned by a stone roof of stone finished with a cross of stone. This bell tower is typical of the Cistercian Romanesque architecture, which preaches sobriety.
The abbey also has a Romanesque cloister whose galleries are punctuated by arches of discharge sheltering triplets of arcades in semicircular supported by columns surmounted by capitals with leaves of water.
The lavender :
The lavandin has been cultivated in Sénanque since the end of the 60s by the monks. He answers the call of Saint Benedict: "They will really be monks if they live by the work of their hands."
The lavandin grown at Sénanque is a hybrid variety that blooms from the end of June to the full mid-July flowering. It is gathered under the July sun. The harvest is used to produce a pure and natural essential oil, the stems and flowers are distilled with steam.