One of the great things about travel is coming across something unexpectedly amazing. I’d never heard of Jumièges Abbey until spotting it on the map on a last-minute trip to Normandy. Near the banks of the Seine between Rouen and Le Havre, this Benedictine abbey was originally built in the seventh century. Not that it latest long – it was destroyed first by the Vikings then later by the English and the Huguenots. But each time it was rebuilt, until finally being abandoned after the French Revolution and pillaged for its white limestone. But the ruins left behind are beautiful and atmospheric – the church’s 50-metre-high towers, cloisters complete with a yew tree growing in the centre and precariously balanced arched columns. And if you’re there in summer, you can visit by night when the abbey’s lit up and its stone glows in the light.
Jumièges Abbey is around 30km from Rouen and 50km from Le Havre. It’s open 9.30am–6.30pm from 15 April to 15 September, and from 9.30am–1pm and 2.30pm–5.30pm for the rest of the year. Entry costs €6.50 per person (€4 for 18–25 year olds and free entry for under 18s).