SEVRIER (Pop: 3,900)
Sevrier was already known in Roman times when a road between Annecy and Faverges went through it. Human presence is even much older since two of the 111 stilt house villages in the Alps listed as World Heritage sites by UNESCO are on its soil.
The Paccard bell foundry, created in 1796, settled in Sevrier in 1989. Several hundred bells are produced each year and 70 pc are exported. Since the beginning of the company, 80,000 bells were made. On the town hall square stand a big ball of 39.64 tons and three meters in diameter. The granite block was carved by Tiunetti between 1965 and 1968.
Comedian Andre Dussolier, who was born in Annecy, owns a residence in Sevrier.
Palafitte sites (from the Italian meaning planted poles) are the vestiges of prehistoric dwellings built on lakes and dating from 5,000 to 500 BC.
In 1856, a Lausanne researcher evoked the possibility of such villages in the lakes of Savoy and Switzerland and searches in the lake of Annecy proved him right. Thanks to the progress of diving, research improved considerably. Some 40 such sites have now been listed around the lake.
DUINGT (Pop: 940)
Château of Châteauvieux
Also known as château de Ruphy, it is a 11th century medieval castle controlling the road between Geneva and Moutiers on the bank of Lake Annecy. It has always been a strategic site for the County of Geneva. Until the 16th century, the castle belonged to the Duin or Duyn family, vassals of the Counts of Geneva. It is now a private estate. Its position on the lake made it a painter’s favourite. The most famous artist to paint it was Cezanne.
DOUSSARD (Pop: 3,600)
Roman villas were on the site, whose name probably derives from one of their owners. The village gradually from the marsh area where still stands today the Beauvivier Tower (1293) to its current location. The End of the Lake Nature Reserve lies on the commune along the lake shores. It is made of 84 ha of marshes in which flow the rivers or Ire and Eau Morte. Beavers can be observed.
TALLOIRES-MONTMIN (Pop: 1,750)
Tallloires and Montmin joined in 2016 to become one and the same commune.
The history of Talloires remains marked by the presence of its royal abbey and of the religious heritage (St Germain chapel) left by the monks. Physician Gabriel Lippmann took the first colour picture in the cloister of the abbey, which has been turned into a luxury hotel on the shores of the lake of Annecy.
THONES (Pop: 6,500)
Between the Aravis massif and the blue waters of the Annecy lake, Thones is a charming village, lively all year round, especially as it lies only 10 km away from the ski resorts of La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand or Manigod. The city stretches around its picturesque town centre with its onion dome typical of Savoy Baroque art. Colourful façades and 15th century arcades can be found along the streets. Thones also stages numerous events all through the year, from the Snow Masters to the Vocales de Thones singing festival. Gastronomy is also honoured in this capital of reblochon cheese with the Gourmet Palace while cinema is represented by a Resistance movie festival. Thones was indeed a hot spot of French Resistance close to the sites of Morette and Plateau des Glieres. Jean-Jacques Rousseau evoked his stay in Thones in 1730 with some emotion in his Confessions. Thones was also the birthplace of former skiing world champion Regine Cavagnoud, killed in a training accident in 2001.
The Tour de France rode through Thones as early as its first visit to the Alps in 1911.
Col de la Croix-Fry (1 477 m)
Col de la Croix-Fry, owing its name to a cross blessed by Francis de Sales, was ridden four times by the Tour de France peloton, the last in 2013, when Portugal’s Rui Costa came first at the top.
LA CLUSAZ (Pop: 1 770)
La Clusaz took its name from the word “cluse”, meaning a steep road or valley between two mountains. It was first called Clusa Locus Dei (God’s Enclosure) until 1772, when it was given its present name. For centuries, life in La Clusaz was extremely harsh, timber and reblochon cheese providing the only meagre resources. Skiing was introduced in 1907 and transformed local life. The first ski club was founded in 1926 by the village schoolteacher. In 1928, a skating rink was created and 1935 saw the installation of the first ski lift. Since then, many champions were born or trained in La Clusaz, from Guy Perillat to Edgar Grospiron, Regine Cavagnoud or Vincent Vittoz.
Plateau des Glieres Memorial
Chosen as a parachuting ground by the Allies, the Plateau des Glières sheltered in February and March 1944 more than 460 members of the French Resistance, responsible for receiving weapons for the whole of Haute-Savoie. The Department of Memory and Citizenship of the Department of Cultural Affairs of the County Council offers free or guided tours on the site, and for any type of audience. The historic tour allows visitors to discover the daily life of the guerrillas during the winter of 1944 and to visit the National Monument to the Resistance, built on the tomb of Lieutenant Tom Morel, the first leader of the Maquis des Glières. The maquis des Glières, evacuated on March 26, 1944 after an attack by the German army, became the symbol of the Resistance and the site its first direct fighting against the occupiers.
LA ROCHE-SUR-FORON (Pop: 11,700 )
The medieval city of La Roche-sur-Foron is part of the network of the most beautiful detours of France. Its medieval walls, the Plain-Château district, are worth a visit for its noble houses from the 16th and 17th centuries, but also for the 12th century Counts of Geneva Tower, the last vestige of the castle perched on the rock that gave its name to the city. The Château de Saix (private property) and the Château de l'Echelle, turned into a municipal cultural venue, complete the historical tour. The charm and the interest of the city are due to the fact that the configuration of the town centre has changed very little in thousand years. The last important structural evolution dates from the 19th century, with neoclassical monuments such as the Town Hall, the Grenette and Place de la République, lined with the same type of arcades found in Turin or in the department in Cluses and Sallanches. The town can also be proud of its industrial heritage and notably the water reservoir that allowed La Roche-sur-Foron to be one of the first cities in Europe with public electric lighting in 1885.
BONNEVILLE (Pop: 12,300)
Its proximity to the mountains made it the birthplace of two Olympic champions, Antoine Dénériaz, downhill gold medallist in 2006 in Sestrières, and Karine Ruby, crowned in snowboarding in 1998 in Nagano. Green station, the town houses an interesting heritage, including its castle.
Castle of Bonneville
Located on a hillock at the foot of the Mole, built around 1260, it is the only surviving example of the Savoyard military architecture of the Middle Ages in the county of Savoy. This vast building corresponds to the regular plan called "Savoyard square": a quadrilateral with a cylindrical tower on each corner. Only two of those towers remain, linked by a curtain of 18 meters to the East. On the south wall can be seen a Gothic window with a double warhead, probably corresponding to the ceremonial room of the castle. From the sixteenth century, the castle was converted into a prison, which saved it from destruction. It remained a prison until 1934 and during the Second World War.
CLUSES (17 500 hab.)
Located in the biggest gap of the Alps, the Arve valley, Cluses became independent in 1301 when it was granted a charter by baron Hugues of Faucigny. The town developed around the only bridge to cross the Arve river. Built by the Romans and restored in the Middle Ages, it is still visible today. In 1720, Claude-Joseph Balaloud introduced the clock-making industry in a valley which, at the time, was entirely devoted to farming. Countless family workshops saw the light of day and a Royal Clockmaking School was launched in 1848. Local watchmakers specialised in tiny bits and their reputation survived to this day.
In 1844, the town was entirely destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in the Turin style by architect Francois Justin. Cluses is the hometown of swimming Olympic medallist Catherine Plewinski. In 2002, a Tour de France stage was won by Italy’s Dario Frigo. In 1994, victory in Cluses went to Latvia’s Piotr Ugrumov.
Dario Frigo. In 2016, Cluses was the start of a Criterium du Dauphine stage won in Saint-Vulbas by Nacer Bouhanni.
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