Tamié Abbey
. . . and its cheese


The Monastery

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.

The abbey 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 based.

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.

There are 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

    • a photo expo and audiovisual presentation about monastic life
    • a hall of prayer
    • a shop where one can purchase religious books and monastic products, including Tamié cheese.

There are also picnic facilities and basic lodgings. If you wish to stay in the abbey's hostelry, please contact the frère hotelier and inform him of the dates of your proposed stay. There are no organised retreats, but it is possible to meet with a monk or to study in the library.

The Cheese of Tamié Abbey

The monastery is financed by the work of the monks who work the land and gather the milk of surrounding farms to make their famed Tamié cheese.

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.

Seventeen 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.

Tamié cheese is sold in two sizes: "Véritable", which weighs between 1,4 and 1,5 kg , and "Petit" which weighs 550 -600 g .

Tamié 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

Page and images © 1999 by Robert F. Jeantet
end of Tamié Cheese page