In the early 12th century, the future Saint Bernard left the Cîteaux Abbey to found Clairvaux. The new Cistercian Order planned to create their communities in places both remote from the world, to be able to devote themselves to prayer, and well served by natural resources, to be entirely self-sufficient.
A true model of a Cistercian abbey, Clairvaux is situated in the clearing of the Val d’Absinthe in the heart of a vast forest traversed by the river Aube. This location made it possible to create mills and fish ponds and use the forest for timber and raising livestock. Their exploitation of land devoted to agriculture and viticulture, and also their mines and forges, quickly lead to the monks and the “laypeople” of Clairvaux innovating and developing new techniques in several domains (ranging from architecture to metallurgy to viticulture). They enjoyed the fruits of their research thanks to a large network of regional monastic granges numbering in the forties, and dispersed them through a filiation of more than 350 abbeys across Europe.