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Abbeys in Switzerland: Romainmôtier



Romainmôtier in June 2003

Newly graduated from high school, soon to be off to Uni, Marlowe visits the Old Dad in Switzerland.

The tiny village of Romainmôtier (400 inhabitants) lies in a hole, at 674m, a deep dip in the valley of the little river Nozon which flows down out of the Swiss Jura at Vaulion, near the Col du Mollendruz and the Vallée du Joux, as it continues past La Sarraz to reach Lac de Neuchâtel at Yverdon. The nearest town, Juriens, a kilometre to the west, is 120m higher up the hill (the village of Envy [!] is just a few hundred meters up the hill but too small to call a town).

The Hôtel Au Lieutenant Ballival, a favorite with passing hikers.

An abbey was established on this spot, traditionally and probably correctly, in 515, and was turned over to the authority of the new reform-minded abbey of Cluny in 928, one of the first of what came to be a Cluniac franchise or monastery-chain loosely within the Benedictine order. This is the center of the village (left), just outside the abbey precincts gatehouse (right), with its 14th century tower clock, in June 2003.

The present church was begun at the beginning of the 11th century, on the foundations of buildings from the 7th and 8th centuries.

The gatehouse to the abbey precinct (left), Marlowe looking for the tea room (right)

The front of the church, and archaeologically the oldest part.

The back side of the church, looking at the gatehouse and clock tower from the inside.

The rest of Marlowe's visit to Switzerland, June 2003


Alison's visit, October 2003



Romainmôtier in April 2006

A dreary, rainy day -- no one has the heart for hiking today, so we visit the Grottes de Vallorbe and pass through Romainmôtier to make sure everything's still okay, mid-April 2006. But something's wrong -- what is it? The 10th century abbey church looks fine. What happened to the trees on the hillside?

Lieutenant Baillival still fine as well, but we note the terrible parking job by the driver of that blue car.

Where are all the trees on the hillside?

Last time we were in this courtyard, in 2003, the building on the right housed a fascinating museum of Cluniac abbeys in Europe, but there seems to be an art gallery in there now, the Gallerie de la Cour. Excellent stuff, but it would be good to know what happened to that monastic exhibition.

Romanesque stuff hanging off it everywhere -- this is said to be the oldest abbey church in Switzerland.

The village's Web site has some good material on the church, http://www.romainmotier.ch/abbatiale/.

The 14th century clock tower and gateway through the walls.

That's one sturdy old church. Let's hope all the trees come back.


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 21 September 2003, revised 30 April 2012, 7 February 2014.


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