Laid out on the hillside overlooking the course of the Petite Maine, the La Salette sanctuary, in La Rabatelière, is made up of different buildings that marked parish life at the end of the XNUMXth century.e century and shows the fervor of the Vendée people for the worship of the Virgin.

Cultural site of the Departmental Council of Vendée, it represents the apparitions of the Virgin to the children of La Salette in the Alps in 1846. This picturesque architectural ensemble in a landscaped universe is worth the detour for a walk in the heart of nature.  

The discovery of the Salette site in Vendée

La Salette consists of 3 sets and a Stations of the Cross, all in an exotic plant universe. The vegetation is omnipresent in the routes with cedars, pines, various massifs... and integrates the monuments in a plant universe very pleasant for the walk.

The monument at La Salette

Through a scenography on several levels, Abbé Hillairet reproduces the episodes of the apparition of the Virgin Mary, dressed in Dauphinois costume, to two young children, Maximin Giraud and Mélanie Calvat. 3 climbing scenes were completed in 1887, with cast iron statues, sets of stairs and gently sloping paths, from the start Abbot Hillairet wanted a sanctuary enclosed by walls and towers crowned by false brick machicolation.

The rosary and the tower

The following year, in 1889, the Abbot erected a new ensemble: the monument to the Rosary. On the left, a grassy ramp is fitted out with 16 stelae framed by crenellated brick turrets, these are the stations of the Rosary: ​​devotion to Mary. This spiritual ascent culminates in a tower called 'the triumph of the cross', a square monument 20 meters high with turrets and terraces, some of which receive statues. In the lower part is a chapel dedicated to Notre Dame. A 7 meter high cross crowns this monument.

The monument was inaugurated on Sunday October 23, 1889 in front of a crowd of 15 pilgrims.

The Chapel and the Cross of Jerusalem

It was at the top of the hill that a new sanctuary was erected in 1893, following a pilgrimage by Abbot Hillairet to the Holy Land (Jerusalem). This new construction will accommodate the cross taken by the pilgrims to the Holy Land, in the shape of a square dungeon, flanked by full turrets. Courtines, battlements and loopholes here suggest a fortress of faith.

It is carried in procession from the Gare de l'Herbergement by the parishioners of La Rabatelière to the church. It was then installed in the large chapel of La Salette on September 28, 1893 during a ceremony. The memorialists of the time speak of a considerable crowd: between 40 and 50 pilgrims.

Heartbreaking moment : Come and admire the last light of day reflected on the bricks.

The Way of the Cross

In 1902, a Stations of the Cross, made of simple wooden crosses, was added, walking along the hill. The olive wood crosses, brought from Jerusalem by pilgrims, are placed in front of the church of La Rabatelière and carried in procession to the foot of the hill of La Salette before being erected. All the wooden crosses were replaced by others in reinforced cement, and erected on September 19, 1965.

Abbé Hillairet, the builder priest

In response to the anticlerical policy carried out in France from 1879, we are witnessing in the Vendée a wave of reconstruction of churches and construction of places of piety. It was under the leadership of Father Hillairet, parish priest of La Rabatelière, between 1873 and 1908, that a picturesque architectural complex was erected which does not fail to surprise...

Originally from Venansault, Elie Hillairet was born on November 9, 1840. A good student, he very early showed a marked devotion to the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus. He entered the Major Seminary of Luçon in 1860, was ordained deacon in 1864 and priest in January of the following year. He was appointed parish priest of La Rabatelière on March 9, 1873, where he remained until his death in 1908.

Produced in 2022, in the form of an ascending virtual visit, discover this documentary retracing the history of the Sanctuary of La Salette, in La Rabatelière, in Vendée.

Hiking trails around the Sanctuaire de la Salette


Access to the sanctuary

  • Where to shelter if it rains? In case of rain, you can take shelter in the Chapel until the downpour passes. The monuments are open to the public from the beginning of April to the end of October.
  • Where are the nearest toilets? The site has 2 dry toilets. You will find them at the parking lot at the top of the site, as well as at the bottom of the site.
  • Is the Sanctuary chargeable? The site is freely accessible and completely free.
  • Can we discover the Sanctuary of La Salette on a guided tour? Guided tours are offered on Tuesdays in summer, from mid-July. Group tours can also be arranged on request. More information by phone on 02 44 40 20 07.
  • Can we picnic at the Sanctuary of La Salette? Picnic tables are available at the Sanctuary of La Salette, including 1 picnic table accessible to people with reduced mobility. The closest picnic area is then the picnic area of ​​the green belt, located at La Rabelière. It has a shaded table, games for children and is close to a hiking trail and heritage circuit, and a fishing spot.
  • Can I come with my pet? As the Sanctuary of La Salette is freely accessible, our animal friends are welcome. However, we invite you to take your precautions and leave the place in perfect condition.

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