La Toussuire - Les Sybelles

Toussuire Sports Encounters

Local champions are easy to find in the La Toussuire. It is still possible to go trekking with Lionel Bonnel (ski-alpinism world champion) to train with slalom Olympic champion Jean-Pierre Vidal or to take lessons with mountain bike world medallist Damien Spagnolo. Alexandre Giraud cannot be too far either if you look for a nice freeride spot.

January is the champion month for La Toussuire when the resort holds its Sports Encounters, gathering former sport stars turned managers or coaches. For a week they all use the meeting as an opportunity to confront ideas and share experiences. Children are invited to share their knowledge in master-classes held daily. Last winter, former handball international Philippe Gardent was in town while in previous years, France’s football selector Laurent Blanc or rugby union coach Marc Lievremont also gave lectures to the children of regional clubs. A prize is awarded every year to the sports person who best tackled his second life. 

One previous stage.
Population: 550 in Fontcouverte and 2,500 for the Sybelles skiing domain.
Wintersports resort on the commune of Fontcouverte in Savoie (73)Economy : ski, tourism.
Specialties : lamb, matouille, rioute (pastry), Mont-Corbier (liquor), beaufort (cheese), crozets (pasta).
Celebrities : Jean-Pierre Vidal, jean-Noel Augert, Maurice Adrait (alpine skiing). 
Festival : Rencontre Toussuire Sports. 

Timeline

  • 1184

    Fontcouverte is first mentioned in a bull by Pope Lucius II
  • 1327

    Revolte des Arves (peasant revolt). Fontcouverte passes under the joint rule of the princes bishops of St Jean-de-Maurienne and the Counts of Savoy.
  • 1599

    The region is ravaged by the Protestant armies of Lesdiguieres.
  • 1675

    Construction of the Noree-Dame de l’Assomption church on the site of an older church.
  • 1742

    Construction of Notre-Dame de la Salette chapel
  • 1895 to 1910

    Emigration of Fontcouverte inhabitants to Manitoba.
  • 1923

    First ski contest in La Toussuire.
  • 1927

    Creation of the Fontcouverte ski club.
  • 1937

    Installation of the first ski lift and the first hotel. Visit by ministers Pierre Cot and Leo Lagrange.
  • 1970

    Jean-Noel Augert becomes slalom world champion in Val Gardena.
  • 1990

    Creation the Sybelles skiing domain.
  • 2001

    Creation of the Commmunity of communes of Arvan.
  • 2002

    Jean-Pierre Vidal becomes slalom Olympic champion.
One previous stage.
Population: 550 in Fontcouverte and 2,500 for the Sybelles skiing domain.
Wintersports resort on the commune of Fontcouverte in Savoie (73)Economy : ski, tourism.
Specialties : lamb, matouille, rioute (pastry), Mont-Corbier (liquor), beaufort (cheese), crozets (pasta).
Celebrities : Jean-Pierre Vidal, jean-Noel Augert, Maurice Adrait (alpine skiing). 
Festival : Rencontre Toussuire Sports. 

La Toussuire - Les Sybelles and cycling

The last time the Tour passed through La Toussuire was in 2006, but since then it has witnessed the victory of Joaquim Rodriguez during the last stage of the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné. The Spanish rider won his second stage in a row, which also allowed him to win the green and polka dot jerseys. Just behind him, France’s Thibaut Pinot, took advantage of his knowledge of the finish, since he had won a stage of the Tour des Pays de Savoie there, two years earlier. La Toussuire sponsors the best climber’s jersey in that event.

The resort has also become a classic finish of the Dauphine. Before Joaquin Rodriguez, stages were held here in 2006 and 2008 with victories by Iban Mayo and Chris Anker Sorensen. 

One previous stage.
Population: 550 in Fontcouverte and 2,500 for the Sybelles skiing domain.
Wintersports resort on the commune of Fontcouverte in Savoie (73)Economy : ski, tourism.
Specialties : lamb, matouille, rioute (pastry), Mont-Corbier (liquor), beaufort (cheese), crozets (pasta).
Celebrities : Jean-Pierre Vidal, jean-Noel Augert, Maurice Adrait (alpine skiing). 
Festival : Rencontre Toussuire Sports. 

What to see

Notre-Dame de lAssomption baroque church in Fontcouverte

The Foncouverte church is nestled inside a small forest with the Aiguilles d’Arves in the background. It features on the circuit known as the Roads of the Baroque in Savoy. It was built in1675 by Dominque Blanc, from Susa. The tribune dates from 1825. In 1855, Gilardi sculpted a low-relief on the tympanum representing the Assumption. He also restored the 17th century altars. Laurent Dufour (1718) signed the paintings above the main altar and the chancel houses a 1748 painting of the Last Supper by Joseph Dominique, from the Valsesia valley.

Notre-Dame de la Salette chapel in Fontcouverte

An old chapel of the friars of the Blessed Sacrament built in 1621, it was restored in 1741. It became Notre-Dame de la Salette in 1857. On its ceilings are displayed 24 paintings by Jean Domnique, an artist from Rossa in the Valsesia valley. After the French Revolution, the chapel was turned into a shed and was only repaired in 1860 by Father Pasquier, who ordered the painting over the altar, the work of Cavalli, from Grenoble. The walls of the small Baroque chapel are covered with paintings by Maggia, a painter from St Jean de Maurienne.

Aiguilles d’Arves

The three peaks known as Aiguilles d’Arves are emblematic of the southern Maurienne Valley because of their altitude (3,514 metres for the Aiguille Meridionale) and their isolation which makes them stand out of the scenery as soon as the road goes up. 

One previous stage.
Population: 550 in Fontcouverte and 2,500 for the Sybelles skiing domain.
Wintersports resort on the commune of Fontcouverte in Savoie (73)Economy : ski, tourism.
Specialties : lamb, matouille, rioute (pastry), Mont-Corbier (liquor), beaufort (cheese), crozets (pasta).
Celebrities : Jean-Pierre Vidal, jean-Noel Augert, Maurice Adrait (alpine skiing). 
Festival : Rencontre Toussuire Sports. 

Jean Pierre Vidal's Golden Day

February 23, 2002 would have been a special day for Jean-Pierre Vidal anyway. You do not always ski an Olympic slalom on the eve of your 25th birthday. But the skier from La Toussuire probably never expected to receive such a magnificent birthday present on the pistes of Salt Lake City. On arriving in Utah, the Frenchman was a talented slalom specialist indeed, but he only had one World Cup victory behind him, in Kranjska Gora in 2001. Everything clicked into place on the day that mattered. Vidal skied to perfection in the morning first run and had the unlikely privlege of starting last in the second. His compatriot Sebastien Amiez certainly helped by clocking a fantastic time in the second leg, forcing the other contenders to take all risks. Pre-race favourite Ivica Kostelic tried too hard and missed a gate. Bode Miller also failed to complete his run. Austria’s Benni Raich skied the worst slalom leg of his life and vanished out of contention. In the finish area, the French camp coudl hardly believe their eyes. Vidal was the only man left. And one thing was for sure  : a Frenchman was going to win the Olympic gold. Amiez held his breath, supported by another man from La Toussuire, team coach Maurice Adrait. Back home in La Toussuire, thousands of miles away, the tension became nerve-shattering. Vidal went down. His run was far from perfect. A first mistake sent shivers running down the spines of his fans. Another halfway down was met by screams of anxiety. But Vidal held on. In the finish line, the green line went up. He was fastest. Amiez jumped out of the comeptitors zone to embrace his team-mate. France achieved a rare double, 34 years after the slalom gold and silver medals won by Jean-Claude Killy and Guy Perillat in Grenoble. La Toussuire was on top of the ski world.

It must be noted that the air of the Maurienne valley seems to inspire slalom specialists. Jean-Noel Augert, the 1970 world champion, is Vidal’s cousin while current world champion Jean-Bapriste Grange also comes from the valley. 

One previous stage.
Population: 550 in Fontcouverte and 2,500 for the Sybelles skiing domain.
Wintersports resort on the commune of Fontcouverte in Savoie (73)Economy : ski, tourism.
Specialties : lamb, matouille, rioute (pastry), Mont-Corbier (liquor), beaufort (cheese), crozets (pasta).
Celebrities : Jean-Pierre Vidal, jean-Noel Augert, Maurice Adrait (alpine skiing). 
Festival : Rencontre Toussuire Sports. 

Jersey wearers after the stage 5

Classifications after the stage 5

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