Shaped by its Savoyard traditions and heritage, the village of Abondance is part of Chablais Savoyard and was affiliated to France in 1860 at the same time as the Duchy of Savoy. Its history is closely linked to that of the Abondance Abbey, which was founded in the 12th century. For seven centuries Abondance village lived to the rhythm of the religious rites and its canons around its famous Abbey.
From religion to tourism
The canons were established in the middle of the 11th century. Led by lay abbots who neglected the monastic discipline, François de Sales, Savoyard Catholic priest and bishop of Geneva, was delegated to Chablais to restore the Catholic faith in 1594. The canons were then replaced by Feuillant Cistercian monks in 1606. The two centuries that followed were punctuated by conflicts between the Savoyard state and its French neighbours.
Following further easing of the monastic discipline, the Pope decided to close the abbey in 1761. In 1792, Savoy, and therefore the Abondance valley, became French and suffered the religious persecution of the Terror: religious goods were sold, and steeples destroyed.
The start of tourism
Development in the 19th century led to the appearance and arrival of the first tourists. Due to the beauty of its landscapes and the quality of its climate, from the beginning of the 20th century Abondance attracts a social clientele. Several guesthouses are flourishing, including the prestigious Hôtel des Alpes. Mont Jorat and Mont Chauffé are home to the village of la bise: the air is healthy and favourable for people with respiratory diseases, especially people from the North suffering from silicosis, who come to Abondance in droves. The prestigious Catholic institution Sainte-Croix de Neuilly installs “Sainte-Croix des neiges”, a private school that attracts generations of children from all over France. Then comes the era of the holiday camps: the locals transform their farm to build an establishment specially adapted for children. The “Bichette” is one example, on the route du Mont, which could accommodate 300 children.
A winter sports resort is created
Skiing started early on. In 1930 a ski club already existed for holidaymakers. In 1938 a cable-sledge was set up in Abondance. In 1964, the Abondance, Aulps and Val D’Illiez valleys in Switzerland combined together to create Les Portes du Soleil ski domain under the incentive of the ski champion Jean Vuarnet. It was during this same year that the Abondance cable car was inaugurated.