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Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus

Abbaye de Fontevraud - The Restaurant & iBar

  • France
  • Restaurant & Hôtel, Restaurant
  • 2014

Région Pays de la Loire

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  • Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
    Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
  • Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
    Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
  • Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
    Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
  • Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
    Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
  • Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
    Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
  • Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
    Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
  • Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
    Le Restaurant © Nicolas Matheus
  • The Manda armchair, designed by Patrick Jouin iD and made by Italian manufacturer Gruppo Industriale Busnelli, is used in the cloister in its leather version with tinted beech legs. The bespoke table was made by CAA.
    The Manda armchair, designed by Patrick Jouin iD and made by Italian manufacturer Gruppo Industriale Busnelli, is used in the cloister in its leather version with tinted beech legs. The bespoke table was made by CAA.
  • Ceramiciste Charles Hair at his workshop © David Darrault
    Ceramiciste Charles Hair at his workshop © David Darrault
  • The bowl © Patrick Jouin
    The bowl © Patrick Jouin
  • L'iBar © Nicolas Matheus
    L'iBar © Nicolas Matheus
  • The refectory © Nicolas Matheus
    The refectory © Nicolas Matheus
  • The refectory © Nicolas Matheus
    The refectory © Nicolas Matheus
  • The refectory © Nicolas Matheus
    The refectory © Nicolas Matheus

The cloister around which the priory is organised is the ‘stone heart’ of Saint-Lazare. To bring life back into this space, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku have chosen transparency. Using freestanding glass partitions, part of the restored cloister has been put back to its original use as a place for strolling, while the rest is occupied by the restaurant. Here the arrangement of tables encourages guests to let their gaze wander outside, towards the garden planted with aromatic and medicinal plants that chef Thibaut Ruggeri comes to pick whenever required. Arranged around two spaces within the cloister, the 88-cover restaurant extends into the chapter house.
The furniture, restrained and contemporary, has mostly been made to measure, sometimes to adapt itself to the restraints imposed by the architecture. The fabric and leather banquettes placed on the chapter house’s stone benches are a case in point. As are the hanging wooden lights, whose unusual shape helps to deal with the difficult acoustics.


The bowl and the refectory, description

The bowl
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The restaurant’s chef starts his meals with a surprise! – a surprise hidden in the hollow of a bowl topped with an upturned plate. To concretise this ritual, Jouin Manku called on the talents of Charles Hair, a ceramicist based near the Abbey. He came up with two creations that associate unfinished ceramic and enamel in a play of green and pale green-blue, inset with white, black and beige. This is an object that evolves – once the surprise has been eaten, the lid is turned over and becomes a side plate for bread – these objects punctuate the table like a beautiful landscape.


The refectory
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Is now transformed into a banqueting hall, perfectly revives the community aspect of the original priory. Intended for hosting special events, it has been conceived as a modular space. Between receptions, it returns to being a huge, calm living room where hotel guests can dream under the vaulted ceiling in front of the huge fireplace nestled at one end. Instead of religious paintings and the frescos of long ago, four textile triptychs accent the walls and absorb noise. The one fixed element in this ever-changing environment is an 8m-long table with metal legs, around which guests are invited to sit. Down the centre, a long line of candles cast shadows of the past… a gentle reminder of the monastic atmosphere of long ago.