Mont-Saint-Eloi abbey was founded in the VII century by Saint-Eloi and entirely rebuilt in the middle of the XVIII century. It is located eight kilometres north-west of Arras and has witnessed numerous historical events since several battles occurred in its premises.
In 1477, the king Louis XI settled down here with his army during the Arras siege. Two centuries later, in 1654, the Prince of Condé called ‘The Great Condé’ established his headquarters here before being expelled by the troops of Marshal of Turenne.
During the French Revolution (1789-1799), the abbey was abandoned and sold to the State. Subsequently it was demolished except the façade, the towers, and the main door.
The First World War damaged it even further. Today, only the two 44 metres high towers are left (the fifth floor was completely destroyed during the Great War).
The towers dominate the whole valley as they are on a hill that is 120 metres high.
During the First World War, they were used by the Allies as an observation post before the German forces destroyed their tops and a significant part of the abbey with their cannons. Far in the horizon, both Notre-Dame-de-Lorette hill and Vimy Ridge are visible.
Here is Mont-Saint-Eloi abbey before its destruction :
and after its destruction :