abbaye des vaux de cernayPhotos courtesy of Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay


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A group of monks from Savigny Abbey founded this abbey in 1118 on donated land. Affiliated with the Cistercian order, the abbey became entirely self sufficient and prosperous for nearly 200 years.

Guy des Vaux de Cernay, its sixth abbot, became noteworthy in his own right when he took part in the Fourth Crusade in 1203 and three years later in the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars in southern France. He later became Bishop of Carcassonne.

The abbey was abandoned after the Hundred Years’ War, and attempts to reconstruct the galleries and monastery in later centuries failed due to heavy costs. Shortly after the French Revolution its furnishings and property were sold off. The site was then used as a quarry.

In the late 19th century Charlotte de Rothschild bought the estate and began reconstruction and preservation of the church and abbey. A few more owners came and went until 1988 when the property was sold with the purpose of developing it as a hotel.

Pamela’s Perspective

By design, the Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay has very much of an Old World look about it. In the guest rooms you won’t find TVs, but radios; Internet access can be spotty. Disconnect and enjoy the ambiance of an old noble house! Splurge on the more expensive guest rooms (in the old section and not in the new wing) if possible; they’re much better than the less expensive rooms.


Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay

A 12th century abbey


78720 Cernay-la-Ville
Tel: ++33 (0)1 34 85 23 00
Hotel website
Reserve with

Fast facts

57 rooms

Double rooms: from 130–295 euros
Suites: from 360 euros
Rates include tax and service but not breakfast.

Open: all year

Getting there

The Abbaye is about 13 km northeast of Rambouillet. Take D906, turn left onto D91 and another left on D24. In 2 km look for the hotel on the right. The nearest train stations are at Rambouillet and Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse (a tourism shuttle bus leaves from this station a few times a day to the Abbaye).

What to do

On site: abbey tours; seasonal swimming pool; tennis; fitness room and hammam (fee)
Nearby: Rambouillet; Versailles; Château Breteuil; walking trails; mountain biking; golf


Splendor among the ruins! Set in the middle of the Rambouillet forest, your breath can’t help but being taken away a bit when you lay eyes upon this utterly fantastic tableau of ancient history.

Your lodgings aren’t actually in the ruins, of course, but within an adjacent noble residence. The idea here is the preservation of its special heritage while you tranquilly reflect on the meaning of history.

Guest rooms vary tremendously. They could be smallish and tucked up under the mansard roof or spacious; some have fireplaces and sitting tubs; furnishings can be dated or updated. All have comfy beds and modern bathrooms with large bathtubs and/or showers. Snuggly robes and slippers are provided. Room 200 has an unusual leaded window, while the Chambre Rothschild features a plaster ceiling and wood paneling. Many rooms have views of the lake and grounds or the church and garden.

Comfortable chairs and sofas in a large public room with a fantastic vaulted ceiling make the perfect place to cozy up with a book or drink in front of a fireplace.

The medieval ambiance carries into the highly regarded hotel restaurant. Unlike some hotels, here you’ll need to make an advance reservation for lunch and/or dinner.

Don’t miss spending a little time on the grounds, exploring the abbey ruins and taking a walk around the lake.

Something special

curlicue Classified Historic Monument