. . . and its cheese
[ THE MONASTERY ]
- [ TAMIE CHEESE ]
Situated on the eastern slopes of the Bauges mountain massif,
at an altitude of 900 meters, the Cistercian abbey of Notre-Dame
de Tamié is witness to a long history.
was founded in 1132 by Saint Pierre of Tarentaise, a monk from
Bonnevaux Abbey, who was later to become the archbishop of Moûtiers.
After a successful start in the golden age of the XIIth Century,
the abbey was adversely affected by prosperity, which led the
monks away from the austere lifestyle on which the order was
It is in the
late XVIIth Century that Tamié was the first Cistercian
abbey to adopt reforms ( "La Stricte Observance"
) that had first been applied at the "Grande Trappe"
monastery in Normandy (hence the term "Trappist");
the abbey was rebuilt at this time, in respect of the Trappist
rules of austerity.
The French Revolution of 1789
forced the monastery to close, and the monks to exile themselves
to friendlier lands, but the buildings were not damaged. In 1861,
monks from Besançon reopened Tamié; the monastery
established at that time eventually flourished into the community
that dwells there today.
about thirty monks in residence at any given time; mass, which
is open to visitors, is celebrated in French, but Gregorian plainchant
is still sung in the services.
Visitors may visit the abbey's
church and attend services. But the abbey itself is not open
to visitors, since tourism would disturb the life of the monks
who devote their time to prayer, work, and study. However, there
is a large visitors' center just 300m before the monastery, where
you will find
The Cheese of Tamié Abbey
is financed by the work of the monks who work the land and gather
the milk of surrounding farms to make their famed Tamié
Every day, the monastery's milk
truck makes the rounds and collects the milk ( 4.200 litres )
from the fourteen farms in Tamié valley. The milk is not
pasteurized, but used immediately, which allows the cheese to
develop flavors that industrial cheese can never match.
monks work in the fromagerie. The milk is heated to 32.5ºC
in a large copper vat, rennet is added, and after 90 minutes
curds can be collected to start molding the cheese. ( The process
is explained and illustrated on the Reblochon page ).
The cheeses are matured for three
to four weeks at a temperature of 14ºC. A laboratory checks production
to assure consistently high quality.
cheese is sold in two sizes: "Véritable", which
weighs between 1,4 and 1,5 kg , and "Petit" which weighs
550 -600 g .
cheese has a saffron-colored crust and an even, creamy, beige-colored
paste. Tamié cheese was trademarked under the name "Trappe
de Tamié" in 1937