The church in Samoëns, filled with examples of local stonecutters' work, symbolises the village.
Once the Collegiate Church for the Geneva diocese, the building we see today was constructed over the ruins of the church demolished in 1476 during the invasion of the army from Bern. All that seems to remain of that original church is the lower section of the 13th-century bell-tower and the 15th-century St. Claude's Chapel. It took until 1555 to complete the porch and north aisle. This was followed by the building of the chancel (1605), the south aisle (1621) and the sacristy (1840).
The construction work and the decorative features were carried out by stonemasons from Samoëns, who were famous throughout Savoie and France. Vauban, Voltaire and Napoleon all commissioned them for a range of work.
In 1917, Marie-Louise Cognacq-Jaÿ, who founded La Samaritaine department store in Paris, agreed to finance the renovation of the interior of the church in the village where she had been born and it was decorated in the fashionable style of the day, using neo-Gothic plasterwork.
When that reinforced plasterwork began to deteriorate, more general renovation work was undertaken between 1978 and 1982, hence the modern look of the church we see today.
All year: open daily (9 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.)
As part of the 34th European Heritage Days, come and take part in this guided tour of the history and architectural heritage of the...