Situated in the municipality of Saint-Germain-la-Blanche-Herbe, at the gateway to Caen, Ardenne is the third largest abbey in Greater Caen, after the Abbaye-aux-Hommes and the Abbaye-aux-Dames. It was in 1121 that a small Christian community was founded in Ardenne.
During the 1789 Revolution, the religious community was expelled from Ardenne Abbey, the building's original purpose was modified and it was stripped of the furniture and works of art which had been collected.
On 7 June 1944, at the start of the War, the Germans took Canadian soldiers prisoner and escorted them to the abbey where eighteen of them were executed, in contempt of the Geneva Convention and prisoners’ rights. Other summary executions took place during this month of fighting.
The abbey was taken back from the Germans on 8 July 1944. Today, a memorial at the site commemorates this tragic event.
In 1994, on the initiative of the Regional Council, a first wave of restoration and development works were launched at the farinier, the stables, Bayeux gate and the main building. In 1995, when a Franco-American University project came to an abrupt end, the Regional Council offered the IMEC (Institut Mémoires de l'Edition Contemporaine) the opportunity to use the site to house its collections and activities.
The abbey is now recognised as a “Centre culturel de rencontre” and, throughout the year, it provides a venue for exhibitions, research seminars and symposiums.