THE CHIRY-OURSCAMP ABBEY
All that remains of this 12th-century abbey, occupied by the Germans and shelled by the French in 1915, are the ruins rising toward the heavens. This breathtakingly beautiful site leads visitors on a long journey through French history. The abbey was built during the 12th century upon the foundations of an earlier structure built in 641 by the future Saint Eligius, counsellor to King Dagobert. According to the legend, Eligius even tamed a bear, wonderfully useful for heavy work, which explains the name Ourscamp or "Bear Camp".
The subsequent centuries and wars left their mark on the abbey, pillaged during the Hundred Years War, partially reconstructed in the late 16th century, resold following the French Revolution, transformed into first a hospital, then a cotton factory (one of the most beautiful in France), and finally occupied starting on 31 August 1914.
Devastated by the Great War
During the First World War, the Germans used the abbey to store petrol and munitions, and they also rested there, 2 km from the frontline. The French shelled this position in 1915, leaving only ruins. The cotton mill was not rebuilt following the war. In 1941, the abbey was resuscitated with the arrival of monks who still inhabit the site and have largely opened it to the public.