Chapel of the White Penitents (Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs), dedicated to Saint-Jacques

The chapel is located above Saint-Sauveur church the medieval village’s main square. It is accessible by a narrow and steep staircase from the square. Its apse is erected on a hill overlooking the village’s northern entrance.

Typology Building

Period XVII

Accessibility No

Visitable No

The chapel of the White Penitents of Saorge (completed in 1602) has a large single nave separated from the apse by a beautiful altar-baroque seventeenth century altarpiece. This low height vast space under a barrel vault, richly decorated with frescoes, contrasts with the narrow door modest facade, served from the square by a steep staircase.

The sacristy, located northwest of the chapel, has a door opening into a cramped space on the rocky wall overlooking the peak above the entrance to the village.

A wooden stand was added in the nineteenth century to the rear of the nave.

The small facade has a Renaissance-inspired portal and oculus framed by pilasters with Corinthian capitals and baroque fire-pots.

Windows located in the southern glasses of the vault illuminate the cradle covered single nave. Double arches separate the three bays and the choir. The geometric and trompe-l’œil painted decorations; the faux marble and the allegory of the Virgin on the choir are typical of Ligurian art of the second half of the 19th century.

The masoned and stuccoed altarpiece at the rear of the stepped altar occupies the width of the nave and gives access to the high choir by two side doors. It presents a rocaille decor of scrolls, foliage and cherubs.

Covered with a pear-shaped bulb with polychrome glazed tiles, laid in scales, according to the Ligurian tradition, this chapel’s bell tower stands in the midst of the purple roofs of Saorge.

The chapel has the distinction of having the north aisle of the church as the base of its south facade. This specificity is due to the very steepness of the site and the very dense medieval urban aspect of the village.

Conditions of visit

By car from RD 6204 road, in Fontan take RD 38 road. Parking at the entrance of the village. Pedestrian access only.

Limited access due to the pedestrian walk in the alleys of the medieval village (steps and steep slopes).

Occasional public opening.


Additional information


  • Botton Charles et Gaber Jean, Histoire de Saorge et Fontan, Les Editions du Cabri, Breil-sur-Roya, 2009.
  • Thévenon Luc et al., Pénitents des Alpes Maritimes, Editions Serre, 2008.

Useful links

Non documenté.