Cadouin is a Medieval village made famous by it's 12th Century Abbey said to be the final resting place of Richard the Lionheart, which houses a piece of cloth at one time thought to be part of the shroud that covered the body of Christ.
- Distance from Les Lavandes: 29 Kilometres Approx
- Market Day: Wednesday
- Restaurants: Open March to November
- Abbey du Cadoun
- The Cloisters
- Tourists Sites: Open March to November
- Map Grid: B2
The Abbey at Cadouin was founded in 1115 by Robert d'Arbrissel a Hermit and given to an order Cistercian monks in 1119. The church and buildings were constructed during the middle of the 12th century and became one of the most important in the area due to a piece of cloth said to be part of Christ's shroud, and so it became a pilgrim centre. Pilgrims flocked to the Abbey which became part of the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Important pilgrims welcomed by the abbey included Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lion Heart. In the 1930s the cloth was shown to date from the 12th century from Egypt and the abbey immediately lost its role as a pilgrimage destination. The shroud is still on show in the Abbey Museum and still continues to attract lots of visitors although the main attraction now is its beautiful Gothic cloister and carved capital stones.
The cloister in Gothic style dating form the 15-16th century is beautifully laid out, with some stunning medieval frescoes. There are many fine pieces of stone sculpture inside though many are damaged. During the French Revolution the faces of religious statues were systematically destroyed throughout France. Cadouin Abbey is now listed as a World Heritage Site with UNESCO as part of the pilgrimage route to Compostella. The Abbey buildings, now beautifully renovated, house the youth hostel.
Next to the Abbey, the Halle at Cadouin is different to many in the area as it is set on stone rather than wooden pillars. Around the halle and wandering through the streets there are lots of lovely buildings and there are some very interesting shops with furniture, pottery, pictures etc made by local artists. Cadouin has a medieval festival every year during the second fortnight of August. This is a great time to visit the town and many people will be dressed in medieval costume. Evening Visits to sites in the Dordogne are becoming increasingly popular and the Cloitre de Cadouin opens up on Wednesday evenings for night time visits. These are torchlight visits through the abbey and Cadouin itself with a theatrical story telling of the history of Cadouin. The visit starts at 9pm and lasts about 1 1/2 hours. 8 euros for an adult and 5 euros for children, prices may vary. There is also a very good restaurant opposite the Abbey, which serves tradional dishes at affordable prices.