Hautecombe Abbey

Hautecombe Abbey (French pronunciation: ​[otkɔ̃b]; Latin: Altaecumbaeum) is a former Cistercian monastery, later a Benedictine monastery, in Saint-Pierre-de-Curtille near Aix-les-Bains in Savoy, France. For centuries it was the burial place of the members of the House of Savoy. It is visited by 150,000 tourists annually.

Hautecombe Abbey
Monastery information
Other namesFrance Abbaye Royale d'Hautecombe
Italy Abbazia Reale di Altacomba
Establishedc. 1101
Mother houseClairvaux (1125–1790)
Consolata (1826–1864)
Sénanque (1864–1922)
Solesmes (1922–1992)
Dedicated toMary, Saint Irene, Saint Andrew the Apostle
DioceseRoman Catholic Archdiocese of Chambéry
Founder(s)Amadeus III, Count of Savoy
Heritage designationMonument historique
LocationSaint-Pierre-de-Curtille, Savoy, France
WebsiteHautecombe Abbey
Hautecombe Abbey on the shores of the Lac du Bourget


The origins of Hautecombe lie in a religious community which was founded about 1101 in a narrow valley (or combe) near Lake Bourget by hermits from Aulps Abbey, near Lake Geneva. In about 1125 it was transferred to a site on the north-western shore of the lake under Mont du Chat, which had been granted to it by Amadeus III, Count of Savoy, who is named as the founder;[1] and shortly afterwards it accepted the Cistercian Rule from Clairvaux. The first abbot was Amadeus de Haute-Rive, afterwards Bishop of Lausanne. Two daughter-houses were founded from Hautecombe at an early date: Fossanova Abbey (afterwards called For Appio), in the diocese of Terracina in Italy, in 1135, and San Angelo de Petra, close to Constantinople, in 1214.

It has sometimes been claimed, but has often been disputed, that Pope Celestine IV and Pope Nicholas III were monks at Hautecombe.

It was at Hautecombe that for centuries the Counts and Dukes of Savoy were buried. Count Humbert III, known as "Blessed", and his wife Anne were interred there in the latter part of the 12th century; and about a century later Boniface of Savoy, Archbishop of Canterbury (1245–1270), son of Count Thomas I of Savoy, was buried in the sanctuary of the abbey church. Aymon, Count of Savoy financed the expansion of a burial chapel at Hautecombe which was constructed from 1331 to 1342.[2]

The abbot Anthony of Savoy, a son of Charles Emmanuel I, was also buried there in 1673.

The abbey was restored (in a debased style) by one of the dukes about 1750, but it was secularized and sold in 1792, when the French entered Savoy, and was turned into a china-factory. King Charles Felix of Sardinia purchased the ruins in 1824, had the church re-constructed by the Piedmontese architect Ernest Melano in an exuberant Gothic-Romantic style, and restored it to the Cistercian Order. He and his queen, Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies, are buried in the Belley chapel, which forms a kind of vestibule to the church. Some 300 statues and many frescoes adorn the interior of the church, which is 66 metres (217 ft) long, with a transept 26 metres (85 ft) wide. Most of the tombs are little more than reproductions of the medieval monuments.

The Cistercians resettled the abbey from Turin, but the Italian monks soon left, and were replaced by others from Sénanque Abbey, who remained until about 1884. The premises were taken over by the Benedictines of Marseilles Priory in 1922, but in 1992 the monks left for Ganagobie Abbey in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, and the buildings are now administered by the Chemin Neuf Community, an ecumenical and charismatic Roman Catholic group.


  1. ^ C.W. Previté-Orton, The Early History of the House of Savoy, (Cambridge University Press, 1912), 296.
  2. ^ Jean de Brecquessent, The Grove Encyclopedia of Medieval Art and Architecture, Volume 1, ed. Colum Hourihane, (Oxford University Press, 2012), 466.


  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Hautecombe". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

Coordinates: 45°45′10″N 5°50′22″E / 45.75278°N 5.83944°E / 45.75278; 5.83944