The Abbey of Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval is a regional treasure built in 1144 and located at an altitude of just over 700 metres. The Abbey was the foundation of the farming civilisation which back then helped generations of local people from Savoie survive in this difficult terrain, and to adapt progressively in adopting the necessary evolutions, under the authority of the canons.
The Abbey was bought by the Rannaud family at the end of the 19th century and became the Hotel du Fer à Cheval et de l’Abbaye. The abbey housing was acquired by the local council in 2000. Today, it is a centre for art and culture for the Haute-Savoie Department and is currently being renovated. Every summer, the abbey housing opens its doors for an exhibition with free admission, on a different theme each year.
“Scène d’antan” (Scenes of bygone days) exhibitions at Sixt Abbey
The Chartreuse de Mélan
The Chartreuse de Mélan is a monument in the town of Taninges, built over 700 years ago, acting as a monastery, then a little Seminary, then an orphanage for the local council. Today, it is a cultural venue, hosting various public events.
This former Royal burial ground was founded in 1285 by Béatrice de Faucigny, and has gone through a number of transformations over the years. It was a monastery up until the French Revolution, then the buildings were used for various religious congregations, and actually served as a school in 1804. It has been the property of the Département de la Haute-Savoie since 1906, and became an orphanage after the First World War, in 1923. In 1967, after a tragic fire that took 18 young lives, the Chartreuse de Mélan lost a part of its buildings, some of which dated back to the Middle Ages. Today, only the church, the two side chapels, the cloister and the farm are still standing. The Gothic church, consecrated in 1290, and the two chapels, built not long after, house paintings from the beginning of the 15th century, that have been partially conserved. The cloister in the late Gothic style, was rebuilt in the 16th century, after a fire in 1528, perfectly illustrating how monastic architecture was able to adapt to the mountain climate.
Every summer, the Chartreuse de Mélan hosts a temporary exhibition and also offers a wide range of activities to discover this historical place. The (re)discovery of the former monastery with a 3D video, guided tours, educational and creative workshops and a whole new persepctive on contemporary art, that the whole family will enjoy. With the refined architecture of the church, the partially conserved frescoes and stained-glass windows created in 2002, this place is the perfect blend of medieval simplicity and contemporary art.
Around the building, there are monumental sculptures spread out over 3 hectares. These masterpieces are the remains of the history of the monastery and are perfectly blended into the landscapes grounds of the site. The contemporary art tour is available all year round: from the town of Taninges, through Mélan and with the possibility of going even further with the ‘art et nature‘ footpath that runs alongside the Giffre, through the forest.
In 2019, the temporary summer exhibition ‘Patrimoine sacré. Architecture religieuse au XXème siècle‘ (Sacred heritage. Religious architecture in the 20th century), co-produced by the Département and the CAUE (Council of Architecture, Urban Planning and Environment) of Haute-Savoie, was hosted at the Chartreuse. Using Pascal Lemaître’s photographs, this exhibition displayed some remarkable images of buildings throughout the local area. It highlighted not only the buildings, but also the architects, painters, sculptors and renowned glassmakers who all had a part to play.