Celles-sur-Belle is a city of Deux-Sèvres, in region New Aquitaine, located about twenty kilometers southeast of Niort.
The history of the locality is intimately linked to that of its abbey. It was founded at the beginning of the 12th century, succeeding a priory erected on one of the pilgrimage routes of Santiago de Compostela. Having flourished under Louis XI, who made several stays in the 15th century, the abbey was destroyed during the wars of Religion and rebuilt in the 17th century. Abused during the Revolution, where it was used as a place of detention, the abbey (its church as well as its conventual buildings) was acquired by the city in 1971 and was then the subject of a new restoration campaign. Today it is an important cultural center which is also one of the pillars of the economic life of the commune, with the agro-food sector.
Having merged with the neighboring villages of Montigné and Verrines-sous-Celles in 1973, Celles-sur-Belle now has just over 3,800 inhabitants.
Its heritage, cultural vitality and environment make it a destination of choice.
It is evidently by the royal abbey that one will begin a visit of Celles-sur-Belle. Although the original building is only the gateway to the Romanesque abbey church, the whole site (church and related buildings), as it was rebuilt in the 17th century in a neo-Gothic style, has regained all its splendor In the twentieth century. One can always read the inscription (translated from Latin): "Built under Louis XI, destroyed by the heretics in 1568, restored by the Duke of Tuscany in 1669".
The Abbey was once a pilgrimage site and a great ecclesiastical seigneury, given the number of lands it possessed under the old regime. The abbey was classified as a Historical Monument in 1977. The bell tower, 48 m, survivor of the destruction of 1568, and inside the church, many protected objects: stalls in walnut of 1700, a picture of Saint-Genevieve of the eighteenth century, a statue of Mary of the end Of the XVIIe...
At the former monastery, a museum allows visitors to visit places where the monks lived, from the refectory to the cells through the magnificent gardens. For information, call +33 (0) 5 49 32 92 28.
The site of the royal abbey also hosts numerous exhibitions, training courses for young musicians and regular concerts (the abbey church is renowned for its acoustics).
In a different register, but also on the site of the abbey, a museum of the old motorcycle, fruit of a collection patiently gathered by a passionate, is worth the detour. Open from April to October. Price: 2 and 4 euros. For further information, please call +33 5 49 32 14 99.
Launched as a "City of Poetry", Celles-sur-Belle has also designed a "poetic promenade" that allows visitors to discover the city through a circuit including various heritage sites, the whole walk being punctuated by poems. For further information, please call +33 5 49 32 92 28.
Finally, in terms of heritage, we will not forget to visit the Romanesque church Saint-Maixent, in the center of the village of Verrines-sous-Celles (merged in 1973). You will notice the beautiful roofs in lauzes and the amazing bestiaries that decorate the cornices.
For sports enthusiasts, the outdoor swimming pool (with a 25m pool) will allow you to cool off in summer. Opened in June, July and August. Price: 2 euros and 3,30 euros. For further information, please call: +33 5 49 27 32 52.
A skate park, a motocross field and tennis courts can also be accessible to tourists and visitors. For further information, please call +33 5 49 79 80 17.
As for the hikers, they have many trails and routes available, starting or including Celles-sur-Belle. Information on +33 5 49 29 15 10.
You will also have the opportunity to admire a remarkable tree: nicknamed "La Talle à Teurtout" (the chestnut tree of all, in local patois), it is a chestnut with a circumference of 16 m whose estimated age is 700 years.
During 5 days, in mid-July, the abbey is part of the Souffl'en Deux-Sèvres festival. Concerts and workshops (master class) featuring wind instruments and copper (sax, organ...). A firework display punctuates the event on the evening of 13 July. For further information, please contact us at +33 5 49 26 03 18.
Immediately, the ArtenetrA took over for three weeks: on the site of the abbey and in several communes around Celles-sur-Belle, there were about twenty concerts of classical or contemporary music, as well as performances at the end of the course). Information and reservations at +33 5 49 28 29 68.
Finally, for gourmets and gourmands, local products (such as goat cheese, in particular) are to be discovered every Wednesday morning on the market.