The Carthusian Order

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Notre Dame Charterhouse
( France )

Monastery of nuns

Address and contacts

Chartreuse Notre-Dame

04110 Reillanne

Tel. :04 92 75 62 7600 33 4 92 75 62 76
Email :

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In 1084, Bruno and six of his companions entered the desert of Chartreuse in the Alps and established themselves there. Other hermitages were founded in imitation of the one at Chartreuse. In the twelfth century, the nuns of Prébayon in Provence decided to adopt the Carthusian rule of life. Such was the origin of the Carthusian Order.

The Charterhouse of Notre Dame was built in 1978 in the Alps of Haute-Provence, between Manosque and Forcalquier. To get there you leave the village of Reillanne by the departemental route 14 (D.14) that leads to Banon.

After about 3 miles (5 km), look on the right for the road that leads to the monastery. There is no other indication there except a discrete cross, since a Carthusian monastery wants to remain hidden. A forest of pine trees serves as a landmark, and the road leads through it.

After a while, small oak trees take the place of the pines. Finally you will see a sign that reads : Chartreuse Notre-Dame.

After about a mile the monastery appears: some small houses behind an enclosure, then a long building; on its backside is the entrance of the monastery, and nearby, the access to the church.

Let us point out immediately that it is not possible to go any farther: our door opens very rarely. But since your interest in us has made us friends, you can at least imagine a little, as you turn the pages of this brochure, what is behind this shut door…

Behind this door? Some very simple houses and gardens. Nevertheless, they have a distinguishing characteristic: the houses are arranged around a cloister which connects them all together. Far from resembling roman or gothic cloisters, this cloister is made of a simple roof of tiles resting on beams.

The doors of these houses are placed at about 50 feet from one another all along the cloister. Let us open one of them. In front of us is a covered passageway identical to the cloister, which leads to the little house. A walled garden separates it from the house next door.

The house and garden constitute the ‘cell’. You may figure each cell as a part of a living body. Well, in the adjoining cells live nuns, and we like indeed to think that these cells form a body. It is the same life in each cell.

When she goes into her house, the nun enters a bright room. The design and various tools make it clear that this is a work area. We call it the ‘atelier’, or workshop.

The opposite door opens onto a second room. A table, a chair, a bed and an oratory... Does the nun who has come to the Charterhouse to seek God in solitude need anything more? The road that leads to God is easy, because you are advancing along it not by burdening yourself but by unburdening yourself. This is what St. Bruno and the first Carthusians did.

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