Chalet Eterlou Tignes | History of Tignes & Val d’Isère
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Tignes & Val d’Isère


In relation to the other four villages that together make up Tignes in the huge Espace Killy ski area, Tignes-les-Brévières boast a huge amount of charm and character. This is primarily down to the fact that it is not a purpose built. Tignes-les-Brévières has existed since the 13th century, originally inhabited by traditional Savoyard mountain folk and their herds of livestock.


Lace Makers in TignesChalet Eterlou is actually older than the church next door it and can be dated back to at least 1604. The building was part of an old farmyard and was originally used as a hay barn, the building behind the Chalet Eterlou, ‘Lo Boôu’, was made for a farmer who lived above and kept sickly cattle animals underneath during the harsh winter months, this was while the main herd of cows were brought down the mountain in the autumn and up in the spring. A tradition that has stretched for centuries and is still practiced today.
Due to the close proximity to the border this area has been a key smuggling route for centuries. There was a lot of trade with other villages over in the Aosta valley. Marriages were often arranged between villages to keep relationships strong.

The border has moved from many different summit ranges and most recently the last change in the border line was before the First World War, previously this area was Italian. You may see chalets that still have the prefix ‘Lo’, which comes from the local Tignard dialect that today` only has three elderly individuals who can speak it in the local area.


Tignes-les-Brévières in the days before the Dam


Jean-Marie Pierret fresco of Hercules on the Dam


Construction of the Dam, picture taken in 1950


The old village of Tignes and the new Dam being built

There was only the old village of Tignes and Les Brévières before the start of the construction of the Dam de Chevril in 1948. Thanks to the positioning of Les Brévières, it survived the evicting and the eventual flooding the old Tignes residents endured. Some of the old residents settled in our village, some in Bourg-St-Maurice and the others were relocated to higher ground.

Tignes 1800, Tignes Le Lac , Tignes Le Lavechet and Tignes Val Claret were just a few farmers buildings before they were made into the purpose built villages they are now. Some villagers who sought homes down the valley (mainly in Bourg St Maurice) thought that the families that went even higher into the mountains were unwise, but in the late 1960’s the villages at 2100m were being heavily invested into. The whole of Tignes is a success story for those families who started out virtually illiterate and now have the accolade of being some of the biggest property owners in the area.

Old videos from 1952

Courtesy of British Pathé

Our ski area, the Espace Killy, which has both Tignes and Val d’Isère resorts within it, has grown into a massive 300km of pistes. The reason most of the resorts in the whole of the Tarentaise valley have become such a concentration of world class ski resorts, is mainly down to the investment from the French government for the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics. In preparation for these Olympics, the area received many travel infrastructure upgrades which has enabled the steady growth over the decades to what it is now.

In 1989, Jean-Marie Pierret painted a fresco of the Olympian figure Hercules on the Dam du Chevril, which can still be observed from Les Brévières today, better viewed in low level light. We hope that one day the fresco will be reinstated to its former glory.

Val Disere

Val d’Isère

Neighbouring resort Val d’Isère is literally translated to English as ‘Valley of the Isère’, which is the river that runs through the town and past Les Brévières. The river is 178 miles long and orginates from glacier melt above the town. The Isère eventually makes its way through the provinces of Savoie and Isère to join up with the Rhône.

There have been traces of man’s presence around the area that date back to the Neolithic or stone age. The very first confirmed inhabitants were called “Ceutrons”, a small Celtic population that populated the area from around 700-400 BC. The Ceutrons were warriors at heart, were frank and loyal people, addicted to agriculture and the care of herds; fearless as much as farsighted and clever, but still good and hospitable. The most notable local evidence of their time in the area, is a stone circle at Col du Petit-St-Bernard, built across the border.

The town received parish rights in 1637 and the parish church, which is still a landmark in the town centre and was built in 1664 (Chalet Eterlou is older that that Church too!). Sovie was ruled as a duchy and the then called Savoy, experienced its first episode of annexation from France from 1792 to 1814. In 1815 it was returned to the Piemont-Sardaigne kingdom along with Nice.

In the 1930’s Val d’Isère was considered one of the best places for skiing and with the construction of the road leading to the Col du I’seran mountain pass (the highest in Europe) in 1937 it enabled the resort to be fully operational after the Second World War.

For over half a century Val d’Isère has been considered the capital of alpine skiing and has hosted numerous events over the years and still does.

Have you ever wondered why the Espace Killy is named so?
It is down to Jean-Claude Killy. A French alpine skier who was the only person to win all the alpine events during the Winter Olympics (3 Gold medals) and the Ski World Championships in one year (1968) with the Giant Slalom, Slalom, Downhill and Combined events.

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