Church of the Holy Trinity
The date of completion, 1759, appears on the four wrought iron rods at the corners of the facade. At that time, the interior remained unfinished, its decoration dates from 1847. The bell tower was built in 1845. Its construction was entrusted to a Piedmontese stonemason, originally from Val Sesia, Domenico Gualino.
The base of the square bell tower was once part of the ancient Montjoie castle which, in its time, monitored access to the col du Bonhomme mountain pass. The porch informs us that the church is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, rare in this part of Europe.
The money needed for the construction came mostly from expatriates. The church survived the French Revolution, the annexation (of the Mont-Blanc region) and the Napoleonic wars.
The secret to the making of the original tin-plated scales has since been forgotten. The roof was restored with stainless steel scales that don’t have the golden effect of the previous ones.
The Church was immortalized in 1802 by the famous English painter Turner. Its last renovation, after that made by the Piedmontese in 1882, was completed in 1976 by Edouard Borga, under the leadership of Abbot Babaz.
An extract from "Les Contamines at the beginning of the century" as seen by an amateur photographer, the doctor Ancelet.
Church of Notre-Dame de la Gorge
The church of Notre Dame de la Gorge, white and bright with its painted façade, marks the end of the road and start of the trails and mountain paths.
The church was rebuilt in 1699 by Jean de Vougniaz, a stone mason who had recently completed the reconstruction of the church in Saint-Gervais. From the 13th century to the early 19th
century, Notre Dame de la Gorge was the local parish church for the residents of the valley. It was also a spiritual sanctuary home to the Marian cult. Every year, for time immemorial, the pilgrimage on 15th
August drains the faithful in crowds.
Finally, Notre-Dame de la Gorge is a place of prayer associated with the passing of the Col du Bonhomme mountain pass. Many travelers have crossed the threshold of the church to pray for a safe journey.
Renovation works are in progress at Notre-Dame de la Gorge. The walls and roofs have been repaired but further refurbishment is necessary. If you wish to make a financial contribution please collect a form at the church or at the Town Hall. Your donation should be sent to the local association "Mémoire, Histoire et Patrimoine des Contamines-Montjoie" who will transfer the money to the Heritage Fondation. ( Please make cheques payable to Fondation du Patrimoine Notre-Dame de la Gorge).
On arrival at Notre Dame de la Gorge a row of fourteen small chapels mark the path leading to the Church.
Their construction was decided by the parish priest Father Gaillard in 1728, to lend even more importance to the Marian cult. Five 'Joyful Mysteries", five" “Sorrowful Mysteries" and five "Glorious Mysteries" make up the Rosary and trace the life of the Virgin Mary.
The Holy Chapel
Two hundred metres upstream from the Church of Notre Dame de la Gorge, a small chapel was built into the side of the rock wall. The original construction was located just above the present one.
Tradition has it that the first hermit to live at Notre Dame de la Gorge chose this site. From the middle-ages, the Holy Chapel became an important place of pilgrimage for residents of the region. Even today, for the feast of the Assumption on 15th August and the anniversary of the nativity of the Virgin Mary on 8th September, a procession leads the faithful from the church of Notre Dame de la Gorge towards the Holy Chapel.
Discover the treasures of Les Contamines (both small and large) with the help of 3 fact sheets.
These fact sheets were created in collaboration with our local heritage guides and heritage association.