Ensemble Notre Dame de la Visitation Church, Rectory and St. Jacques (St. James)

The church opens on a small square formed by the widening of the road that crosses Fontan. Its side façade (east) runs along the road.
The presbytery and chapel, adjoining the church, have their main facades on the roadside.

Typology Building

Period XVII

Accessibility Yes

Visitable Yes

Following the creation in 1616 of Fontan hamlet, its population increased rapidly.

Wishing to no longer go to Saorge for services, the inhabitants obtained permission to build a church in 1632. It was only the chapel of the hamlet of Fontan until the Concordat of 1801, which consecrated it as parish Church.

The main facade of the Church of the Visitation develops on a single high level supporting a pediment. Four pilasters divide it. The door is surmounted by a tri-lobe oculus.

The nave, covered with a basket handle, has three bays. At the rear of the altar, the upper choir has 18th century walnut stalls, overlooked by three stately niches with rococo Baroque stucco frames. In the central niche, a “Mannerist Rustic” statue presents the Visitation.

On the first span of the nave is a concave gallery added around 1850, decorated with painted decorations representing musician angels in the center and floral garlands with musical instruments on the sides.

On the platform you can see an organ that was created in 1850, by modification of the 1739 instrument, previously found in Saorge.

The chapel dedicated to the Souls of Purgatory presents a baroque altar with lateral decorations of spirals, surmounted by a stucco-framed altarpiece, which shows a skull with bones, as well as a canvas representing the rise of liberated souls towards the benevolent Virgin.

The chapel dedicated to St. John the Evangelist also presents a baroque altar with lateral spirals, surmounted by a stucco altarpiece with floral decorations.

Pilasters frame the baroque bell tower. The level of the chamber of the bells is richly decorated. The level of the summit pinnacle presents original spiral capitals, under a triple bulb covered with polychrome scales tiles characteristic of Liguria.

The presbytery was added to the church in 1810. It stands on three levels, including rooms and housing.

The chapel of Saint-Jacques, White Penitents, was completed in 1845. It presents a baroque-inspired facade, which takes up the composition of the church, and develops on a single level supporting a pediment.

The “Classico-Baroque” ensemble of three elegantly restored buildings constitutes a harmonious ensemble, although two centuries separate the construction of the church from the chapel’s.

Conditions of visit

Notre Dame de la Visitation Church is in the village of Fontan, on a small plot along RD 6204 road. The presbytery and the chapel are adjoining, north of the church, opening on the road.
Access to the church is easy, nearby parking is possible.
Daily opening of the church to the public. Free access. The conditions of visits can be forced during the ceremonies and Sunday mass (9am). The presbytery and Saint-Jacques chapel are usually closed.


Additional information


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

Useful links

  • Eglise ND de la Visitation