This Cistercian abbey, a listed building, is situated in the Haut-Escaut Valley, in the Rue-des-Vignes village, 12 kms from Cambrai and 24 kms from Saint-Quentin. It is the most prestigious historical building in the North of France.
The Vaucelles Abbey as it can be seen today remains an exceptional construction, not so much because of its dimensions but also because of the quality of the renovation and its cultural influence. It was a long and daily struggle to get there - "Vaucelles is a love story". It was in ruins. Formerly it was changed into a weaving factory and then became a farm.
We offer to take you for a historical tour, starting with the involvment of the Cistercian monks and moving on to the years of renovation that we owe to Alain and Marie-Maxellende Lagoutte as well as the Friends of the Vaucelles Abbey association.
Vaucelles Abbey was truly Cistercian in the sense that it was built in the heart of the Haut-Escaut Valley. The foundation stone was laid by Saint-Bernard in August 1132, which made the abbey the 13th daughter of Clairvaux.
Notre-Dame of Vaucelles was erected on an estate given up by Hugues d'Oisy, Lord of Crèvecoeur s/ Escaut. It took several decades for it to be completed. In the 13th century the Abbey had the biggest Cistercian church in Europe – bigger than Notre-Dame of Paris.
Today the altar, made of Carrare marble can be seen in the Saint-Géry church in Cambrai and some of the books that were gathered in the Library can be seen at the Cambrai library.