History of the abbey of Valsaintes

Despite its ancient and historical location, the Abbaye de Valsaintes long stood in the shadow of its three Provençal Cistercian sisters : Sénanque, Silvacane and Le Thoronet.


The site of Boulinette, one of the three major settlements of this sainted valley, is based on religious and cultural foundations stretching back to time immemorial.

It dates back to the Palaeolithic era: various materials have been discovered, as well as remains of a Gallo-Roman building, a medieval castrum and an ancient Celtic sanctuary dedicated to the solar god Bélénos, which gave rise to the place name of Boulinette.

Notre Dame de Valsaintes

Notre-Dame de Valsaintes was created by the order of Cistercians, of the Morimond branch.

Its construction dates back to the end of the 11th century. Around 1180, Bertrand Raimbaud, the Seigneur of Simiane, donated the Seigneury of Boulinette to the Abbey of Silvacane located in the Bouches-du-Rhône. Twelve Cistercian monks settled in this Holy Valley, or Vallis Sancta, to cultivate and maintain the woods alongside their glassmaking activity.

This place was redesigned many times, becoming an abbey around 1660. The new abbey church was consecrated in May 1672 and the monks lived there until 1790, the date of the French Revolution.

The ruin… and the rebirth of Valsaintes

Since the Revolution, the buildings have been used as a farm, a stable and a sheepfold, resulting in the degradation of the abbey church and the structure as a whole.

The place was bought and the church completely restored by the ATHRE association, which planted a rose garden, which later became an ecological garden stretching over 8000 m2.

Rebirth of the church and the birth of the Gardens

Founded in 1996, the ATHRE association began its work of restoring the site and the church. Its aim was to create a cultural hub, a space for sharing practical knowledge, and a site of cross-disciplinary convergence. Many works have been undertaken over many years to restore, rebuild, maintain and bring to life this exceptional, unique part of Haute-Provence.

  • 1996: Restoration of the ruined church and garden (wasteland since the French Revolution)

  • 1999: Opening to the public for free entry and guided tours

  • 2000: The event “L’Abbaye en Roses” is held for the first time

  • 2002: Twinning with the Rose Festival in the province of Ouarzazate in Morocco

  • 2000 to 2009: Various improvements: signage, information panels, various works…

  • 2010: Construction starts on a room for hosting seminars, conferences…

  • 2013: Opening of the dry garden with a selection of 350 arid land plants and a collection of lavenders

  • 2014: Inauguration of “The Way of the Roses”, a chronological journey through the history of the Rose

  • 2015: Opening of the Philanthropia space, a 120 m2 room for hosting internships, seminars, conferences, concerts… Opening of the abbey’s lodge

  • 2016: Works start on an agroecological vegetable garden

  • 2017: Works continue on the agroecological vegetable garden spread over two terraces. Renovation of the rooms of the abbey lodge

  • 2018: Restoration of the former school in the hamlet of Boulinette. Creation of a reception area for this site with shop and three rooms

  • 2019: Construction and creation of a catering area

All these efforts were rewarded with the “Remarkable Garden” label in 2011, and today the Abbaye de Valsaintes has become a structure of reference in the field of cultural and botanical tourism in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.

The Gardens of the Abbaye de Valsaintes are open to the public and host activities throughout the year:

  • Various cultural and musical activities (conferences, gardening courses, workshops, concerts, exhibitions…)

  • Free and guided tours of the Abbaye de Valsaintes in Boulinette (garden, church, historical site, rose garden)

  • Annual event: “Abbaye en Roses” celebrating the full bloom of the roses (end of May — beginning of June)

Titre de l’image


Titre de l’image

Choeur de l'église de Valsaintes avant restauration

Titre de l’image

The dry garden – Sunday September 25

On the occasion of this day, Jean-Yves Meignen presents the dry garden of the abbey whose plants live without any watering. After several years of observation, he shares with us this experience rich in lessons at a time when water management is becoming a real ecological concern in Provence and everywhere else. In autumn 2012, more than 300 plant species selected for their resistance to drought and cold were planted in a landscaped area of ​​the garden of the abbey of Valsaintes. In 2021, the dry garden has expanded with many other varieties of plants including a collection of succulents. This place will therefore be in the spotlight all day. Two meetings with Jean-Yves Meignen on the theme of the garden without watering. 11 a.m.: demonstration of planting in the heart of the dry garden of Valsaintes 3:00 p.m.: conference
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New: Wine-gourmet walk in the Luberon

The Domaine des Davids in Viens and the Jardin se l'Abbaye de Valsaintes have joined forces to offer you a gourmet day to spend with friends, colleagues or family. The day begins at the Domaine des Davids with a visit to its gravity-fed cellar with integrated and contemporary architecture: follow the path of the grapes through the stages of winemaking, where traditions rub shoulders with modern oenology. You are then invited to appreciate the typicality of our preserved terroir by tasting the different cuvées. Tasting of 6 wines. Then we enjoy a meal at the Restaurant du Jardin at Valsaintes Abbey. A seasonal menu will be offered to you by chef Valentin Herbet, Maitre Restaurateur. After this good meal, you can, if you wish, take a guided tour of the remarkable garden of the abbey of Valsaintes. Useful information Prices:
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Woodworms hosts Friday evenings at the restaurant of the Jardin de l’Abbaye de Valsaintes

On Friday evenings in summer, the group Woodworms livens up the evenings on the restaurant's terrace. Woodworms was born from the meeting of two couples in love with music... Werner on guitar and lead vocals lays down the musical framework and writes the texts, the radiant Pascaline on violin, Cyrille on drums and Kristelle on bass, s express themselves through covers of Led zeppelin, Billy Holliday, Neil Young, or even Camille, arranged in their own way, but also a folk, country, blues universe of their own... Learn more about Woodworms Think about reserving your table !

Découvrez la boutique du Jardin de l’Abbaye de Valsaintes

Sur place ou en ligne, nous vous proposons un large choix de produits.

Des rosiers, plantes de jardin sec ou aromatiques ainsi que des produits naturels pour entretenir votre jardin.

Des produits locaux aux saveurs et senteurs de la Provence sont également proposés.

Vous retrouverez également nos livres de jardinage, et les livres de Jean-Yves Meignen.