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Bessans is a commune in the Savoiemarker department in the Rhone-Alpes region in south-eastern Francemarker.


Located on the high mauriennais plateau , with 1750 meters of altitude, the station of Bessans profits from a vast field favourable for the practice of the Scandinavian activities ( nordic skiing , rackets) within a majestic landscape of high snow-covered mountain tops.

The station is placed in a valley, ideal for Nordic skiing. Following the collapse of the mountain downstream from Bessans (at a date that the geologists have of the evil to fix, between 10000 and 3000 years BC), an ice-damned lake was constituted. The successive sedimentary deposits have creates a vast plain of altitude.

The physical characteristics of the site (altitude raised in position of shelter) are reinforced by an early and durable snowing up of quality from November to April and by a regular sunning.

These privileged characteristics allow the team of France of Nordic skiing and the teams of Biathlon of various nations to carry out in Bessans their first training courses of drive each season.

Bessans is located in an environment of high mountain of quality which as well allows the development of sports activities of any level the winter as the summer (Nordic skiing, pedestrian excursions in the valleys of Avérole and Ribon, alpinism on the imposing tops with more than 3000 meters and on the glaciers, climbing...).

The ski touring profits from particularly favorable physical conditions. The valley of Avérole constitutes a high place for the practice of this activity. Races of all levels are organized there.

The rise of glaciers (Albaron, Deep sea, Large Pareis, Baounet...), of the possibilities of loops, the discovery of the top highest of Mauriennemarker (Charbonnel, 3752 m), of the glacier of Evettes or the valley of Ribon offer multiple possibilities of sporting expatriation.


Neolithic era: first traces of the human occupation into Haute-Maurienne. Close to Bessans, on the walls of the Rock of the Castle, one can see cave paintings representing a herd of stags, accompanied by other signs for the moment indecipherable. Arrowheads flint, arrivals of fort far were found with the foot of the rock at the time of recent excavations. Conversely, it is known that the "serpentinite", whose all the rock is made, was used to manufacture axes of parade whose specimens were found with more than of the site!

At the beginning of our era: the Celts occupied the area.

574: the king mérovingien Gontran melts évêché of Maurienne, on which Suze depends.With XEcentury, Maurienne is ground of passage and invasion.To the XIEcentury, Humbert Ier with the white hands melts the dynasty called "House of Savoy".1376: the church existed already has its current site.1532: the bishop of Maurienne sets up Bonneval in parish although forming part of the commune of Bessans.1576: restoration of the church of Bessans.1578: Holy Shroud joined Turin by Bessans definitively.1600: the hamlet of Avérole is carried by an avalanche and is rebuilt with the current site.1725: the priest of Bessans creates a public school.1762: Bonneval separates from Bessans and becomes a commune with whole share.1852: creation of the fair to the cattle which takes place in September.1860: the fastening of Savoy in France is voted by plebiscite:"Our c?urs goes where our rivers go.". Savoy does not form any more part of the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia.

1869: realization of a way suitable for motor vehicles between Lanslevillard and Bessans passing by the country cottages of the Madeleine and Chalp.End of the XIXEcentury: 1110 inhabitants with Bessans, including 52 in Vincendières, 69 in Avérole, 30 in Goulaz and 73 in Villaron.1920: construction of the refuge of Avérole by the CIF.1926: restoration of the church.1937: inauguration of the road of the collar of Iseran by the President of the Republic Albert Lebrun.1940: June 14: a part of the population is evacuated.The Italian troops occupy Bessans and Avérole and plunder the village. Villaron, Goulaz and Bonneval are in zones free.

1944: the Germans set fire to Bessans.In 150 houses, pieces of furniture, harvests, linen and memories from go away in smoke.

1957: an enormous rising of the Arc causes very important damage in all the valley. The efforts of rebuilding after the war are partly destroyed.1962: installation of a first ski-lift "Wire snows" on the initiative of the Ponce abbot, cleaned of Bessans.1963: creation of the National park of Vanoise.1972: opening of the center of ski touring "Bessannaise".1994: end of the restoration of the parish church which finds its colors of origin.


List successive mayors1983-1989 George Personnaz1977-1983 Victor Personnaz1971-1977 Maxime Gautier1958-1971 Albert Cimaz

Architectural heritage

Prehistoric vestiges and ancient neolothic Cave paintings with the "Rock of the Castle".

Civil architecture Houses 17E/18E with the roofs of roofing stones. Stones engraved on houses. External murals 17E on the "dead house" (see the novel of Henri Bordeaux carrying this title, and which describes in fictionalized form the life of bessanais XIX° century). Typical hamlets. Bridge on the Arc.

The Saint-Anthony VaultThe Saint-Anthony vault forms part of a network impressing of vaults, oratories and cross on the parochial territory of Bessans. It is a rectangular building built on the sandy spur which overhangs the village, parallel to the church. It dates from the beginning of XVe century. One considére that it was set up and decorated between 1503 and 1522. The principal frontage is protected by a hood which shelters external decoration, of the frescos representing the seven theological virtues followed from the dance from the defects connected by a chain drawn by two demons in direction from the hell. The Romance bell-tower of the vault is assembled on the Western pinion and dominates a roof with double slope in roofing stones. This vault posséde a typical coffered ceiling of the Rebirth with polychrome paintings (1526). On the walls of the vault one finds forty panels representing the life of Christ, of the Nativity at Pentecost, in the same style as paintings of the Vault Saint-Sébastien de Lanslevillard. Painting is "with frescos", i.e. a painting with water on fresh mortar. The artist who saw himself entrusting this?uvre considerable integrated a multitude of local details which mingle the life with Christ with that of the village.

The Saint-Jean-Baptist churchTheSaint-Jean-Baptist church is located near the vault Saint-Anthony, these two buildings being integrated in the "Ways of the Baroque". It is impossible to determine the date of its construction, but it is certain that it existed already in 1376; it underwent during centuries of many modifications. Like all the churches High-Maurienne, it posséde a closed hall on which still a platform is. The vault of this hall is decorated in the medium by a reason in platre existing already in 1827 and representing the miracle with the Holy Host with Turin. At the interior of the church, eight arched windows introduce enough light to make it possible to contemplate the vault with medallions. The sight is first of all attracted by the high altar, whose marble is of a beautiful Carrara marble white, decorated of a Jean-Baptist Saint on the front, of fine facets and drawings. The steps are with notched edges and, on the gate vault, a slim dome is profiled on four elegant posts. This furnace bridge was carried out in 1858. Four other small furnace bridges are on both sides nave of the church. They are dedicated to Saint Antoine, in Our-injury of the Mount-Carmel, Our-injury of the Rosary and Saint-Joseph. One can admire inside the church of splendid murals and religious statues?uvres local artists. The bell-tower is of very moved back date. Its structure is the same one as that of the towers known as Sarrasines that one still finds throughout the valley. It is decorated of four bells

Artistic InheritanceCountry of sculptors, Bessans is of an extreme richness in popular art like the religious art: wheels and stopper rods, hens with salt, toys out of wooden, statues, crosses... abound.

Most famous of the sculptors were Clappier. Jean-Baptist Clappier, of the hamlet of Vincendières, was one of the first local artists to control all the technique of the Baroque art.

Most famous of the sculptures is the devil, the emblem of Bessans, whose origin goes back only to 1857. This "devil" was created by Etienne Vincendet, of a family called as of the end of the XVIIIEcentury "of the Saints" because of his talent of artist.

The Devil of Bessans

Devil of Bessans, on the place of the villageIn 1857, the cantors of Bessans see themselves refusing by the priest their annual meals. By small revenge, Etienne Vincendet, cantor, carve in wood a statuette of devil carrying a priest, and demounting the evening in front of the door of the presbytery.

The priest suspects the author, and brings back the object in front of the house of Vincendet. The horse-gear would have lasted one month, and the sculptor wearies the first. A tourist sees work and buys it.

Etienne Vincendet also carved hundreds of statuettes of Saints and the Holy ones, of where his nickname of "Etienne of the Saints". His/her son Pierre François will continue the tradition.

Today, the "devil" of Bessans is reproduced on the postal flame of the village and throne on the place of the town hall beside the fountain!

The work "ETIENNE OF the SAINTS, INVENTOR OF the" DEVILS OF BESSANS ", memory of Etienne Vincendet, wood-carver and cantor with the Church of Bessans", of Francis Tracq, éd. the Fountain of Siloé 2006, evokes this sculptor and his works.

History of the devil by George Personnaz (article + podcast) (Guide Latitude Gallimard Maurienne)

Natural sites

Site of the borough in the valley of the Arc, on left bank. Valleys of Ribon, Avérole, small valley of Lombarde. Drink of Bessans. Torrents, many glaciers (in clear regression, like all the glaciers of the Alps....) Lakes. Many panoramas. National park of Vanoise.


Careers of serpentine (in sleep since 50 years, but they provided "ceremonial axes" already to the Neolithic era, found with more than of Bessans!).Pastures. Sheep. Cooperative dairy. Visit cheese dairy: manufacture of Tomme and Beaufort (the morning).


Artisanal fair: 3E Sunday of September.Employers' festival: June 24; communal: August 15.Pilgrimages: with the vault of Third (3 000 m): July 16; with Our-injury-at-Rochemelon (the highest vault of Europe, 3 538 m) August:5.The Marathon of Bessans in January, competition of mass of ski touring, registered in Euroloppet since 2008Cut Europe of Biathlon, in MarchIn 2008 CHAMPIONSHIP OF The WORLD OF BIATHLON Of ETEAlive of Bessans, December 24, and arrived crib of Kings Mages around the Epiphany: More than 50 Bessanais accompanied by the ass, ox, and a goat, propose the oldest texts and songs of Noëls Bessanais (written since 1650). A cave dug in snow accommodate Marie, Joseph and the Jesus child.


Health resort of summer.Guided tours of the vaults and the church.Ski resort: 2 200 m at the top of the tracks; of alpine ski pistes; of ski touring.Rocks of climbing: rock of Barmette; rock school of Drailles White; Black cliff of Balme. Fish, drives out, Tir with the arc.Botanical marked out path and fauna.Camp-site, Lodging of stage, Refuges.Center rises and excursions, country cottages, refuges. Folklore, local costume. Carved Artisanat(bois). Office of Tourism.School of the French ski

See also


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