The Benedictine abbey of Ambronay is always talked about. Since Charlemagne, it has been present in the local landscape but not only…
Today, it gives pride of place to music and artists thanks to the Cultural Meeting Centre.

History

The name sounds like royal. No wonder, since it was founded in the time of Charlemagne, in 797. Beautifully independent, by papal privilege, it enjoyed total sovereignty, answerable only to the Vatican.

This is a Lady with character!

It was besieged in the Middle Ages, pieces were taken from it during the Revolution, but it knew how to defend itself. Its two towers, the Tour des Archives and the Tour Dauphine, originally fortified prove it. Solidly built, the abbey remained free until the XNUMXth century and the protectorate of the Duchy of Savoy. Strong and adaptable, she knows how to change functions when the times demand it. After the end of monastic life within its walls, it was in turn prison, barn, hospice, school, garrison building, social housing… Nothing could shake it.

Once again the church we know today, after its classification as a historic monument in 1889, which began the restoration, its notoriety was written in the XNUMXth century with the creation of a baroque music festival which revealed another advantage of this great lady: its acoustics!

As robust as she is, Dame Ambronay is no less elegant. The abbey and the cloister on two levels form a majestic Gothic ensemble where an atmosphere of calm reigns. The setting is soothing with its green surroundings and visiting the walls is a journey of the senses...

Light.

Attenuated, almost invisible in the heart of the abbey, except for its presence revealed by the stained glass windows, it emerges between the arches of the pointed windows surrounding the cloister. The measured Flamboyant Gothic arches in beautiful gray-white limestone catch the sun and send it gently ricocheting off the lawn. From upstairs, in the shade of the Tuscan columns, you can watch the late afternoon rays or the clouds passing over the bell tower.

When in the glow of the play of colored lights, the fenestrations and colonnades, lawns and frameworks sometimes light up at night, then we discover a completely different design.

Silence

In the belly of the imposing church, nothing filters from the outside. The calm echo of the sounds of visitors on the wall is all that reaches us when we walk slowly under the ribs of the ribbed vault. The massively silhouetted piles echo the whispers, the discreet rubbing of the feet on the tiles, the uncontrolled coughing. The beauty of the cut stones is revealed in tones moved or amazed by the visitors.

When autumn arrives, the carcass of Dame Ambronay resounds with a completely different harmony. The old stones shake, the building vibrates to the sounds and rhythms of masterful compositions of Baroque music. During the Ambronay Festival, the voices of the visitors rise high under the vault. The cries of joy from the children, in the park where wooden games are spread out, come through the open doors. The music sprinkles the places with another silence, that of listening.

Freshness.

Along the nave, under the arcades of the cloister, in the intimidating Chapter room, the coolness follows the blessed visitor when the summer heat reigns outside. Companion of silence, it helps to appease and promotes discovery in peace.

Scent.

For a few minutes or several hours, we breathe in the usual welcoming scent of old stone, dust and incense. A welcome breath to continue his journey.

One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye
A. de Saint-Exupéry

Saint Exupéry, a native of the region and a great traveler, would certainly be happy to try out his famous formula during a very special visit to the abbey: the sensory visit! Two, one is a guide, the other is blindfolded, the time of a visit like no other. We go through all the emotions to enjoy this exceptional place other than with our eyes...

Dame Ambronay undoubtedly likes to surprise her visitors with unusual proposals. At the bend of a corridor, at the end of a vaulted passage, in the distance in the gardens... your ears will be able to discern the sound of a theorbo, a guitar or a cornetto, in the sandstone of the musical visit. A host of classical and less classical instruments to discover in the four corners of the beautiful abbey.

For the most curious, who will not be satisfied with the decor, it is possible to go to the other side. By visiting the backstage of Baroque Music Festival, it is yet another face that the abbey will present to you. That of a hive populated by artists and entertainers. Amazing.

Dame Ambronay adores children. Throughout the year, she organizes fun visits for them, investigations in search of a little monk, egg hunts in her gardens... And don't go thinking that the Festival is reserved for grown-ups! Nay, family shows at low prices and free entertainment, kids* also take full advantage of the musical atmosphere. Everything for the happiness of kids and their parents.