Hautecombe is a 12th century Cistercian abbey which houses the necropolis of the Princes of Savoie. The Gothic building overlooks the lake and is amongst the most visited attractions in Savoie Mont Blanc.
At the beginning of the 12th century, Benedictine monks settled to the north-east of Lake le Bourget, on the mountain of Cessens. Having become Cistercians after a visit from Saint-Bernard of Clairvaux, they moved down towards the lake in 1137. The Abbey was to be very influential in the Middle Ages, but fell into the hands of Abbots more inclined to spend the Abbey’s income than to maintain it and it ended up falling into ruins. It became national property in the French Revolution and was pillaged, then abandoned.
It was the King of Piedmont Sardinia, Charles-Félix, who was to have the Abbaye d’Hautecombe restored by a Piedmontese architect, Ernest Melano, to make it into a necropolis in homage to his ancestors. In 1826, the Cistercian monks returned and then in 1922 the Benedictine community of the Abbaye Sainte-Madeleine in Marseille, of the congregation Saint-Pierre, settled there. When the monks left in 1992, the Archbishop of Chambery suggested to the Chemin-Neuf community that they pursue the Abbey’s vocation of prayer and hospitality and take care of the maintenance and restoration of the monument in conjunction of the public authorities.
The House of Savoie Necropolis
In a pure Gothic troubadour style, the interior of the Abbey church offers the visitor an abundance of paintings, bas-reliefs, frescoes and statues, including a magnificent Pietà de Benoît Cacciatori (1830). The Princes’ chapel houses the tombs of the House of Savoie. The last king of Italy, Humbert II of Savoie, was buried here in 1983 and was joined by his wife Queen Marie-Josée in 2001.
Close to the landing pier, the boatman’s barn dating from the end of the 17th century has been classified as an Historic Monument since 1875. This former barn was initially used to unload the boats and to store the merchandise. It was restored in 2007 and became a special venue for entertainments and temporary exhibitions.
Source : Savoie Mont Blanc