“Abbeys” of Vaud

In the canton of Vaud, it is possible to be in charge of an “abbey” without having anything to do with the Church, since this is the title given to the heads of the canton’s 183 shooting societies. The term “abbey” denotes both these societies and the popular festivals centred on shooting competitions that are open to highly skilled marksmen and absolute beginners alike, where the wine flows freely. These four-day events are held between May and September and also include a procession, a banquet or even a ball. The streets are festooned with flowers for the occasion – some real, some made of paper. Prizes – very often a pewter cup and a rose – are awarded to the best shooters, while everyone else enjoys the convivial atmosphere. The first “abbeys” date back to the Middle Ages, with the oldest founded in 1381. Their competitions were known as “parrot shoots” because the object was to dislodge a coloured parrot made of wood, straw and cloth that was fixed to a perch 50 m above the ground. The societies, set up by the Counts of Savoy, originally performed paramilitary functions as well, such as maintaining public order and territorial defence. It was not until the 19th and 20th centuries that their role was re-examined and they were transformed into a peaceful sporting competition that has as much to do with camaraderie as it does with patriotism.

Detailed description




Connected traditions


AAVV : Le Tir et les Abbayes. In : Encyclopédie illustrée du Pays de Vaud (tome 11). Lausanne, 1984, p. 195-209

Frédéric Amiguet : Les Abbayes vaudoises, histoire des sociétés de tir, leurs origines, leur développement. Lausanne, 1904

Jean-Jacques Fiechter (Ed.) : Les Abbayes vaudoises. Yens-sur-Morges, 1991

Gilbert Marion : Les fêtes de tir. L’Abbaye de la Milice bourgeoise de Grandcour. In : Présences. L’esprit de la fête populaire no. 35, octobre 1988, p.125-129

Gilbert Marion et al. : Abbayes, vie associative et tir à l'arc à Lausanne - XVIIe au XXe siècles. Lausanne, 2014





Fédération des Abbayes vaudoises
Fédération des Abbayes Vaudoises

République et canton de Vaud
Service des affaires culturelles

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