Thursday 21 March updated on 03-21-2019 at 8:06
Thursday 21 March updated on 03-21-2019 at 8:06
During your stay, don’t forget to find out about the traditions of Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Between life in the Alpine pastures, the making of Beaufort and the orchards of the Upper Tarentaise… this town has some real regional produce..
In the Upper Tarentaise, fruit tree growing is an ancient activity: it occupies an important place in traditional agriculture, even though this is mainly pastoral.
References can be found in local 18th Century documents where apple varieties such as « Calville » and « Reinette » are mentioned.
In the mappe sarde of 1730 (the land registry of the period), a number of impressive orchards reach up to an altitude of 1250 metres.
In 1837, a bet between the Duke of Savoie and the Duke of Genoa highlighted the tarine apple: it involved finding the finest fruit in their respective Duchies and the « Reinette Franche » apple from Villette in Tarentaise won over the orange entered by the Duke of Genoa !
At the beginning of the 1930’s, the Tarentaise was the principal fruit growing region in Savoie (2/3 of cider apples and pears, ½ of eating apples).
Until the middle of the 20th Century, the Tarentaise was a major fruit growing region courtesy of the meadow orchards which can still be seen on the landscape today.
These traditional orchards, which united man, beast, grass and fruit in a great cooperative effort , have now been abandoned due to the specialisation in agriculture and are under threat today from the aging population and urbanisation in the valley.
However, they carry a remarkable historic, cultural, environmental and genetic heritage and since the 1980’s have been the object of various conservation and improvement activities. Accordingly, you can discover the Maison de la Pomme (apple centre) in La Chal, the Saint Pantaléon orchard in Grand Gondon and the Great Tarentaise Orchard in la Ballastière (Landry), designed for walking in an open space overlooking the Isère.
Unguided tours every day.
For further details, contact the Tourist Office +33 (0)4 79 07 12 57
For several years, the Savoie General Council has been working to support the restoration, maintenance and enhancement of the department’s cultural heritage.
The hamlet of les Chapieux, at the entrance to the les Glaciers Valley, is at the junction of the Beaufortain (Cormet de Roselend), the Val Montjoie (Col du Bonhomme), The Aosta Valley (Col de la Seigne) and the Tarentaise. A secondary route from Roman times and a place of refuge, this valley had its moment of glory from the 19th Century with the boom in the Tour of Mont Blanc. Legend has it that Saint-Jacques d'Assyrie (Saint James of Assyria), the first Bishop of Tarentaise, arrived through this valley and had a chapel built in 420, where the town of les Glaciers stands today.
In the 18th Century, this sanctuary was dedicated to Notre-Dame de l'Assomption (Our Lady of the Assumption). It was destroyed during the Revolution around 1793-1794 and was rebuilt in 1857.
1857. In the 17th Century, the les Chapieux Valley witnessed the « Glorieuse rentrée » (glorious return) which marked the return from exile of the Vaudois (Waldensians)from Geneva to Italian Piedmont. A movement started in Lyon in 1170 around Pierre Valdo, the Vaudois were a lay community who preached a simple life of poverty and prayer. Condemned for heresy, they were tolerated in Lombardy and in the valleys said to be vaudoises (between Mont-Cenis and Dauphiné) until 1300, they were then widely persecuted by the House of Savoie and by the Kings of France.
In 1500, they rallied to the Protestant Reform and were forced into exile in Switzerland following the Edict of Nantes (1685). In August 1689, nearly a thousand of them tried to return to the vaudoises valleys. In 6 days, this expedition took them from Lake Geneva to Pragellato, crossing the ridges of le Haut Faucigny, the Upper Tarentaise by the Col du Bonhomme and Piedmont by the cols de l'Iseran and Mont-Cenis.
The mountain stream of les Glaciers rises at an altitude of 2,332 m at the Col de la Seigne, passes through les Chapieux (1 500m) and flows into the Versoyen at Bonneval-les-Bains (1 084m). These water courses, which are characterized by the suddenness and intensity of their spates, have damaged the entrance to and the land of the Bourg-Saint-Maurice plain, during violent storms and sudden thaws of snow.
The Roselend dam is one of the most famous in the French Alps. This mixed dam comprises a vault 145 m high and 215 m wide, supported by a dyke which is itself reinforced by diagonal buttresses.
The resulting lake of 320 ha boasts a much-admired pastoral landscape. On its banks, Sainte-Marie-Madeleine (Saint Mary Magdalene) Chapel, built of limestone and cargneule and covered in shingles (small larch tiles), displays a bell tower wall and an apse in cul-de-four inspired by the old 14th Century building which was at the heart of the hamlet of Roselend and is now under water.
Today, the chapel is the only reminder of the hamlet, which was vital to the pastoral economy which occupied a suspended valley reputed for the quality of its grazing and which played host to huge numbers of livestock. This fertile land grew rye, oats and renowned honey. From 1870, Constant Gachet known as «the Egyptian» opened the first hotel there.
Some years later, Augustine Manon opened another establishment. However, it was Alfred Couttet from Chamonix which gave tourism in the village real impetus by opening a quality hotel in 1937 on this site ideally suited for skiing where notably Jean Monnet, Jacques Prévert and even Irène Joliot-Curie stayed.
Today large numbers of livestock still spend the summer on the Alpine pastures of Roseland.