Housed in a true masterpiece of 19th century architecture, the Benedictine Palace in Fécamp houses the only production site in the world for Benedictine liqueur and a museum entirely dedicated to this Norman speciality. The entire history of the liqueur is recounted here, from the possible elaboration of its recipe by a monk in the 16th century to the construction of the palace by the Norman wine merchant and industrialist Alexandre Le Grand three centuries later.
It is a fun experience and a real awakening of the senses that awaits visitors. On site, the many experts share their experience of distillation, olfaction, cellar conservation, and other specialties related to the making of the famous liqueur. It is also possible to learn about the art of mixology by discovering the historical recipes for Benedictine based cocktails.
The Benedictine Palace is a place where art and history have their place. The building alone is worth the detour, with its Gothic and Renaissance influences. Inside, the museum houses an exceptional collection of ancient art related to the Benedictine, which allows visitors to learn more about the industrial history of the site. It also features the plants and spices used in the composition of the beverage, as well as temporary exhibitions, most of which showcase local talent.
The only Benedictine distillery in the world
Pride of Normandy, the Benedictine Palace is the only production site for Benedictine liqueur in the world. Moreover, each bottle is closed with a cork on which are mentioned the acronym D.O.M.(Deo Optimo Maximo, translated from Latin as "To God, the best, the greatest") as well as the inscription "True Benedictine". These identification procedures make it possible to guarantee the origin of the drink.
The tour offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the Benedictine is made. In the company of experts, visitors discover some of the plants and spices used in the composition of the liqueur. In the footsteps of the alchemist monks, they learn the secrets of the drink through the 8 stages of its elaboration. The journey of the senses is ultimate, from the fragrances of the alcoholates to the tasting of the different expressions of Benedictine: Single Cask, B&B and Benedictine.
The origins of the "elixir of health"
To appreciate the visit of this palace like no other, you must first retrace the history of the liqueur. Legend has it that it was a Venetian monk from the abbey of Fécamp, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, who created the recipe for a magical health elixir at the beginning of the 16th century. It would then have been lost during the Revolution before being found by Alexander (-Prosper) The Great himself, in 1863. However, it is more likely that it was Alexander the Great himself who created his own formula based on traditional medicinal recipes. He called his elixir of health "La Bénédictine".
Determined to go into the industrial production of La Bénédictine, Alexandre Le Grand had this palace built, a hybrid between a palace and a factory with a unique style, a mixture of neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance architecture. It was an immediate success and, from the end of the 19th century, tens of thousands of bottles were sold.
On the other side of the coin, Alexandre Le Grand saw many counterfeits appear. He was forced to register the name "Benedictine" in 1875 and implemented procedures to identify the liqueur. Even today, the recipe is still kept secret, even if the "spice room" in the palace provides a list of the 27 spices and plants used in its composition (lemon, thyme, fir blossom, lemon balm, orange zest, etc.).
A Gothic and Renaissance palace
This is undoubtedly what first calls the visitor when he arrives: the extraordinary architecture of the monument. Perfectly representative of Alexandre Le Grand's eclectic artistic tastes, the building elegantly combines tradition and eccentricity. One can see the Norman industrialist's desire to combine his passion for art and industry.
The Benedictine Palace, designed by the French architect Camille Albert, was built in 1888, but was completely destroyed only four years later by fire. It will be rebuilt in the form we know today. Very soon, part of the palace will be transformed into a museum to allow Alexandre Le Grand, a fervent collector, to exhibit his paintings, sculptures and other ancient objects. In particular, there is a rich collection of ivories and emeralds, ironwork and wood paintings by artists from all over Europe.
Benedictine and cocktails: the art of mixology
Among the many experiences on offer, the introduction to cocktails allows you to discover the art of mixology. Don't forget that Benedictine is used in the composition of many cocktails such as B&B (Brandy and Benedictine), Big Ben (Benedictine, ice cubes and lemon zest), or the April Shower (Benedictine, cognac and orange juice). This workshop is a unique opportunity to be introduced to the world of mixology through the explanations of the head bartender and president of the ABF (Association des Barmen de France) Marc Jean. The latter, a true cocktail artist, enjoys revealing his tricks and secrets to create drinks that, in addition to revealing a perfectly balanced taste, also create a unique emotion. Visitors are thus invited to get their hands dirty. Shakers in hand, they have fun shaking the mixture of fruit, ice cubes and liqueurs with a brisk gesture. Then comes the moment they have been waiting for: the moment of tasting!
An event venue for companies and individuals
In order to bring this extraordinary place to life in a different way than the Benedictine, the palace also welcomes projects for private and professional events. It is a unique opportunity to let your family or colleagues discover or rediscover this site steeped in history during a dinner, a conference, a seminar or even a wedding. For companies, first of all, the Palais Bénédictine offers to privatize its "Salle des Abbés" in order to host a concert, a cocktail party, a seminar or a gala dinner. The "Small Salons" can also be reserved for a business meal or a meeting. For coffee and lunch breaks, the dining room remains freely accessible and a gastronomic menu can be served for lunch.
Individuals who dream of a fairytale wedding also have the possibility of privatizing part of the Benedictine Palace. Welcomed in the main courtyard, the guests are greeted by the bride and groom from the balcony of the stairs, before all these beautiful people meet in the "Salle des Abbés". This sumptuous and sumptuous room can accommodate up to 200 people for cocktails and 160 people for dinner. Its high sculpted ceiling, majestic chandeliers and period furniture are the guarantee of an unforgettable wedding?
Very quickly when visiting the Benedictine Palace one realizes that the place is in fact far from being reserved for lovers of Norman liquor. Art lovers, architecture lovers and the simply curious will appreciate discovering this unique place in the heart of Fécamp, a Norman town where it will be good to recover from a visit to one of the many good restaurants in the town.
When? The Benedictine Palace can be visited all year round. Low season: Saturday and Sunday from 2.30 to 4.30 pm for the visit and until 6 pm for the tea room. High season: every day from 10.30am to 12.30pm and then from 2.30pm to 6pm
To get there. Located in the heart of Fécamp, the Palais Bénédictine is 20 minutes drive from Étretat, 45 minutes from Le Havre, 1 hour from Rouen and Deauville and 2h15 from Paris (A13, exit 25 direction Fécamp). The Palais Bénédictine does not have a car park. It is however possible to park all around the site, notably on the quai Bérigny. The palace is accessible to people with reduced mobility.
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Rates. Adult: 14 €; child from 12 to 17 years old: 8 €; child under 12 years old: free; Family (2 adults + children): 29 €; "Initiation cocktails" experience: 20 € per person; "Cocktail workshop" experience: 48 € per person; "Privilege" experience: 30 € per person.
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