The Taj Mahal of France

It’s often been said that the Taj Mahal is the greatest monument built for love. But did you know that France has its very own Taj Mahal? Located in Bourg-en-Bresse—a pays known for its princely poultry—the Royal Monastery of Brou is a majestic mausoleum built by Margaret of Austria to honor her great love, Philibert the Fair, Duke of Savoy.

First betrothed at three years old in a political manoeuvre, Margaret led a tragic life, losing her third husband and true love, the Savoy Duke, after just year blissful years of marriage.

To pay homage to his memory, Margaret enlisted some of the finest artisans from across Europe to work on the monument starting in 1505. An architectural masterpiece in the Flamboyant Gothic style, crafted from stone and marble, the Royal Monastery of Brou took 27 years to build.

Sadly, Margaret died shortly before the work was completed, so she never got to see it. And what a sight to behold! Painstakingly beautiful details include the altarpiece, statues, choir stalls, and richly ornamented tombs of Margaret, Philibert, and his mother, Margaret of Bourbon. The roof is covered with the colourful, glazed Flemish tiles that are so distinctive to the region.

To get the most out of your visit, we highly recommend a guided tour, available by reservation. A national historic monument, the monastery is just an hour from Lyon in the Rhône-Alpes region.

Monastère royal de Brou, 63, boulevard de Brou, 01000 Bourg-en-Bresse, Tel: +33 (0)4 74 22 83 83

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Mary Winston Nicklin
Based in Paris, Nicklin is the Web Editor of France Today. She is also the Editor of Bonjour Paris, the site's sister publication. As a freelance journalist, she has contributed to publications like The Washington Post, Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, CNN Travel, Vinepair, Travel Agent Magazine, and Luxury Travel Advisor.

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