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Traditional architecture, 20th Century, fortifications...
Bourg-Saint-Maurice has an exceptional architecture which has lasted through the centuries. Set out to explore its streets and fortifications which have a number of surprises in store for you.
Traditional architecture :
At the turn of the year 1000, the emergence of the House of Savoie coincided with the boom of feudalism and the multiplication of fortified castles.
The first keeps and earthen ramparts (Ugine, Marthod, Queige) were succeeded by a network of fortresses and fortified houses (Les Vanches and La Grande Sallaz in Beaufort). These fortifications ensure control of the roads and Alpine cols (châteaux de Cornillon near the col de la Forclaz and le Châtelard in Bourg Saint-Maurice). After the major feudal conflicts, the castles lost nearly all of their defensive role and prestige, such as les Faucigny in Flumet.
In 1860, after the Annexing of Savoie by France a programme of new building was undertaken following the techniques of the engineer Séré de Rivière, that were better suited to the rapid advances in artillery. The stronghold in Albertville was completed in 1879, with positions located between Albertville and Ugine, such as Villard-Dessous, Tamié, Le Mont, l'Estal and l'Alpettaz.
France opted to fortify the points where the Alpine valleys open onto the plains, abandoning the populations of the upper valleys in the event of an enemy advance. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the use of concrete gave rise to new types of fortress and enabled the old works to be strengthened. The Bourg-Saint-Maurice dam opposite the Petit-Saint-Bernard was an example between 1890-1894 between the bottom of the valley (Vulmix) and the high altitude location (La Platte).
At the end of the thirties,work was to begin on the construction of a Maginot line of the Alps: underground concrete forts on the Italian frontier (Les Chapieux, vallée des Glaciers, Petit-Saint-Bernard, Galise). These had barely been completed when Italy entered the war; in June 1940, they were subjected to transalpine attacks during the Battle of the Alps which was fought at the end of June on the highest frontier massifs of Beaufortain, Tarentaise and Maurienne.
From 1942, the vast Resistance movement was coordinated by charismatic characters notably Jean Bulle who commanded an effective network while protecting the lives of his men. Tirelessly, he covered the area, from urban and industrial districts like Ugine as far as the grazing lands of Beaufortain and Tarentaise. On 1st August 1944, a very significant parachute drop of arms and equipment was to be made on the les Saisies plateau, which would enable about 3,000 men from various maquis from the Val d'Arly to the Maurienne to be equipped in order to hasten the liberation of Savoie.
The ministry of Culture and Communication took initiatives in 1999 on behalf of 20th Century architectural heritage: protection, raising awareness, restoration. Accordingly, a “20th Century heritage label” was set up to distinguish the major constructions of the past century across the whole country.
As an example of a modernity which has blended with the mountains, nature and the town, five locations in the town of Bourg-Saint-Maurice/ Les Arcs have been awarded the label :
- The town hall and cinema in Bourg-Saint-Maurice,
- The town planning and architecture of Arc 1600 and Arc 1800,
- The stations of the Aiguille Rouge cable car in Arc 2000.