304km (189 miles) SW of Paris; 16km (10 miles) SE of Saumur
You'll find the Plantagenet dynasty buried in the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud (tel. 02-41-51-87-97; www.abbaye-fontevraud.com). The kings, whose male line ended in 1485, were also the comtes d'Anjou, and they wanted to be buried in their native soil.
In the 12th-century Romanesque church -- with four Byzantine domes -- are the remains of two English kings or princes, including Henry II of England, the first Plantagenet king, and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, the most famous woman of the Middle Ages. Her crusading son, Richard the Lion-Hearted, was also entombed here. The Plantagenet line ended with the death of Richard III at the 1485 Battle of Bosworth. The tombs fared badly during the Revolution, when mobs desecrated the sarcophagi and scattered their contents on the floor.
More intriguing than the tombs is the octagonal Tour d'Evraud, the last remaining Romanesque kitchen in France. Dating from the 12th century, it contains five of its original eight apsides (half-rounded indentations originally conceived as chapels), each crowned with a conically roofed turret. A pyramid tops the conglomeration, capped by an open-air lantern tower pierced with lancets.
Robert d'Arbrissel, who spent much of his life as a recluse, founded the abbey in 1099. Aristocratic ladies occupied one part; many, including discarded mistresses of kings, had been banished from court. The four youngest daughters of Louis XV were educated here.
[tel] 02-41-51-73-52. www.abbaye-fontevraud.com. Admission 9.50€ adults, 7€ students, free 8 and under. Open daily April–June and Sept–Oct 9:30am-6pm; daily July–Aug 9:30am–7pm; daily Nov–Dec 10am–5:30pm; and Feb–Mar Tues–Sun 10am–5:30pm; closed Jan.