At the heart of Bouconville-Vauclair Forest, some twenty kilometres from Laon, not far from the Chemin des Dames, stand the ruins of an old Cistercian abbey founded in 1134 by St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Heavily damaged during the First World War, Vauclair Abbey is a listed Historic Monument, and has retained various architectural reminders of its monastic past, like the lay building, monks' wing, foundations of the abbey church and octagonal dovecote.
Near to the ruins, a garden of medicinal plants was recreated near to the presumed site of the old infirmary. The herb garden has a grid layout following the plan of the first monastic gardens, and contains over 400 species of medicinal plants. A two-hectare conservation orchard, made up mainly of traditional varieties of apple and pear trees, completes the tour of the site.
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