Certain famous monastic sites such as Mont Saint-Michel attract vast numbers of tourists who can enjoy organized and commented visits. That is possible for the good reason that there are no longer communities living within.

Solesmes has a large, living community residing at the abbey. The monks pray, study, and work with their hands according to the Rule Saint Benedict wrote in the 6th century. This "contemplative" vocation was the end for which the various building were erected. For in order to live such a life, the monks need an atmosphere of absolute silence and peace. This is the reason for the reglementation known as "cloister" ("closed" in latin) which is only breached on very rare occasions.

The abbatial church is not, strictly speaking, within the boundaries of the cloister, and it is open to the public for all day offices. It can also be visited in all discretion outside of these hours of prayer. Now, thanks to the Internet, you can visit this house of God without disturbing the silence of the monks who dwell within.

On the northern side of the small town square, place Dom Guéranger, the monastery's main portal (18th century) opens onto the shaded entrance court. Just to the left of this massive portal stands the door leading to the porter's lodge, a small building housing a bookstore and a modest exposition on the abbey.

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