Between Heritage and Creation

Built from 1150 onwards by a small group of monks from Clairvaux, the Abbey of Noirlac reflects the monastic asceticism of the Cistercian order. From the sixteenth century until the French Revolution, the monks who lived there devoted themselves as much to managing the community’s affairs as to their spiritual life. In 1791, the abbey was confiscated to become a National Asset. It was then occupied by a porcelain factory for much of the nineteenth century. The monument was acquired by the Cher Department in 1909 and benefited from a remarkable restoration between 1950 and 1980. In 2007, the Cher Departmental Council created a Public Institution of Cultural Cooperation to manage Noirlac Abbey. In 2008, this establishment obtained the label Cultural Encounter Centre from the French Ministry for Culture and Communication. Now registered with several European networks, the project underway at the abbey focuses on three major ambitions.

The preservation and development of an exceptional heritage site

Throughout its turbulent history, the abbey has always opened its doors to modernity : successively monastery, factory, country hospital, shelter for refugees… so many uses that demonstrate its capacity to adapt to the needs of its time. Today a beautifully restored and protected heritage site, the abbey offers visitors an admirable testimony to medieval Cistercian architecture.

The implementation of a project for artistic creation and education

Thanks to the determination of the Cher Departmental Council, the abbey’s owner, aided by the French State and the Centre Val-de-Loire Region, the abbey remains a living centre in touch with its time.
The force of the monument, the harmony of its restored architecture associated with the beauty of its environment are at the heart of a project based on innovation and territorial development. Silence occupied a major place in Cistercian life; it took on all its meaning in the attention Cistercians paid to listening.
What places of silence exist today ? How, in a society where visual and auditory overload demand our attention, are we supposed to listen to the world and to others ?
We have chosen, in this abbey which has miraculously remained a place of silence, to develop a project inspired by sound and to put listening at the heart of our actions.
Musical residencies, actions revolving around artistic creation and education, attention to the soundscape and a season of artistic events in differing formats reflect this ambition. Listening to the abbey to hear the world of today.

The capacity to welcome visitors and provide services to encourage exchange alongside diversity of our guests, contributing to our strong local presence

Noirlac is a place for hospitality, for sharing and thoughtfulness ; a venue for artists in residence to undertake research or develop a new works; a melting-pot of artistic experience for the wider public as well; a place of discovery for all those who come to experience the abbey through a visit or by attending an exceptional artistic event. Senior company executives find the silence conducive to discussion and reflection.

A place out of time… yet fully integrated with its own era!

Facilities worthy of the project

Intimate and masterful concerts alike are quite at home in the abbey’s vast rooms with their exceptional acoustics.
The abbey church refines voices and the monks’ refectory is ideal for informal performances, whilst the lay brothers’ dormitory, with its beautiful oak roof structure, hosts concerts by small ensembles, whether they play jazz or chamber music.
The conference room, which was recently renovated and made accessible to persons with reduced mobility, is a perfect venue for large assemblies and meetings.
Noirlac Farm, located near the abbey, in an unspoiled bocage environment, welcomes :

  • artists in residence working on their creations or recording in soundproofed studios
  • pupils at workshops in the two dedicated teaching rooms
  • companies and associations for their working meetings.

The abbey’s rooms are equally sought after by individuals/organisations looking to hire facilities for cocktail parties, dinners, events…

Institutions that support
the Cultural Encounter Center

The Ministry of Culture / Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs for the Centre-Val de Loire Region, as well as Region Centre-Val de Loire, assist the Cher Department in the support it gives Noirlac Abbey.


The Cher Departmental Council
As the abbey’s owner, the Cher Departmental Council prompted Noirlac’s bid to become a Cultural Encounter Centre.
The Cher Departmental Council serves the Cher territory and its inhabitants. It strives to ensure that each of its citizens has the chance to prosper, and to safeguard the attractiveness of its territory. At a time when French regions have recently been expanded, Departmental Councils’ role as a local actor is more important than ever. Its policy areas impact all inhabitants, whatever their age. Its challenges revolve around building a sustainable future for everybody. Being responsible, in particular, for social assistance, road development and maintenance, middle schools, digital development, the vitality of the not-for-profit sector, local tourism, culture and sport, and the promotion of our historical, architectural and cultural heritage, the Council serves every single citizen on a day-to-day basis.


The Region Centre-Val de Loire
Over the years, the Region Centre-Val de Loire has proven to be key player in the development of cultural policies. As both a patron and a participant in these projects, the Region is well positioned to drive an ambitious programme of cultural creation and dissemination. The Region attaches great and just importance to the heritage of this territory so rich in history.
As part of its cultural policy, the Centre-Val de Loire Region favors projects that closely link heritage and creation, as is the case for the Regional Domain of Chaumont-sur-Loire dedicated to creation in the fields of the visual arts and gardens.
The regional public policy has a dual purpose:
• develop the cultural and artistic programme in the region
• facilitate access to this programme of events for the greatest number


The Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs Centre-Val de Loire
Placed under the authority of the regional Prefect, the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs for the Centre-Val de Loire Region is responsible for steering and implementing the policies of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, in conjunction with or in support of other actors (local authorities, public institutions of inter-municipal cooperation and associations).
Its missions cover heritage, artistic creation, and the cultural industries. It is therefore the representative in the Centre-Val de Loire Region of all of the Ministry’s services.