Chablais massif, Alps, France-Switzerland border

The Chablais massif is the second largest massif in the Northern Prealps. It is located in Haute-Savoie in the French Chablais and Faucigny, and partly in the Chablais Valaisan in Valais in Switzerland.

The Chablais massif is a peripheral massif of the Alps. It is bounded from north to south by Lake Geneva, the Arve and Giffre valleys as well as the Illiez valley. It is surrounded by the Bernese Alps on the other side of the Rhône valley, the Haut-Giffre massif to the south-east, and the Bornes massif to the south of the Arve.

Chablais region
The Chablais is a former possession of the Savoy County before becoming a province of the Duchy of Savoy having Thonon-les-Bains for historic capital. This historic region is currently divided into three territories, Chablais Savoyard, Chablais Valaisan, Chablais Vaudois and depends on two countries: France (department of Haute-Savoie) and Switzerland (cantons of Valais and Vaud). Bordering the south shore of Lake Geneva, the region is dominated by the Alps.

Historians have distinguished several sub-groups: the Ancien Chablais, the Nouveau Chablais and the Chablais Vaudois. The “Ancien Chablais” or “primitive Chablais” of the Middle Ages corresponds to the “head of the Lake” – Léman – along the left bank of the Rhône, that is to say the current Bas-Valais. Another definition gives the region between the river from Trient (Valais) to Eau Froide (Vaud) and the Morge from Saint-Gingolph (Valais). The “New Chablais” or ” Savoyard Chablais “Or” current Chablais “, even nowadays the” French Chablais “, is located between Dranse and Morge. Historians have called “Chablais Vaudois” the Savoyard possessions which were landlocked in the Pays de Vaud.

The Swiss Chablais (Chablais vaudois and Chablais valaisan) is located at the Vaudois and Valaisan end of Lake Geneva, downstream of the upper Rhône valley, on the main routes connecting Italy through Switzerland to northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Rhine Valley. It is a region surrounded by numerous Alpine peaks, including the Dents du Midi, culminating at 3,257 m. In addition, three municipalities in the current canton of Genevawere considered to be part of Chablais, before 1815: they are Hermance, Anières and Corsier.

The French Chablais (Savoyard Chablais) extends to the north-east of the Haute-Savoie department, between Lake Geneva and the Giffre valley. It includes three geographic areas:
to the north, the lower Chablais bordering the south shore of Lake Geneva, a plain of the Savoyard foreland;
the Côte-en-Chablais and the Pays de Gavot, a plateau located between Lake Geneva and the Dranse valley;
to the south, the mountainous upper Chablais with the Morzine – Avoriaz ensemble, the Aulps valley and the Abondance valley as the main tourist center.

The most populated communes of Chablais are: Thonon-les-Bains (34,973 inhabitants), Monthey (17,660 inhabitants), Aigle (10,000 inhabitants), Évian-les-Bains (8,822 inhabitants), Collombey-Muraz (7,500 inhabitants), Ollon (7,000 inhabitants), Bex (7,000 inhabitants), Publier (6,753 inhabitants), Sciez (5,592 inhabitants), Villeneuve (5,700 inhabitants), Douvaine (5,509 inhabitants), Bons-en-Chablais (5,337 inhabitants),Saint-Maurice (4,500 inhabitants), Morzine (2,893 inhabitants).

Like the other peripheral massifs of the Alps, the Chablais massif is entirely made up of sedimentary rocks. However, it is an allochthonous geological unit unlike the Bornes and Giffre massifs composed of (par-) autochthonous units. It straddles the north-alpine foreland basin to the north and the Helvetic domain to the south. The Chablais massif is the result of the interweaving of several layers of thrusts belonging mainly to the Pennine structural domain. These layers correspond to the sedimentary blankets deposited in the different paleogeographic domains of the Alpine Tethys and which were detached during the subduction of these same domains then nested in the sedimentary accretion prism.

Thus the structural position (from bottom to top) of these layers a priori respects their introduction into the sedimentary accretion prism and therefore their relative position in the Alpine Tethys: the layers located at the top of the pre-alpine building are the first sedimentary covers. subducted and therefore initially located towards the southern margin while the lowest units were the last incorporated and were located further north. Below this stack of layers, there are finally ultra-Helvetic units flush especially along the internal border. The Chablais massif constitutes the first belt of overlap formed between the late Cretaceous and the Eocene. It will then be followed in the Oligocene by a second overlapping belt constituting the subalpine massifs such as the Bornes and Giffre massifs and incorporating only sedimentary covers of the Delphic-Helvetic domain.

The Prealps tablecloths incorporate a great diversity of lithology and paleoenvironment including carbonate platform deposits (median Prealps tablecloth), tilted boulder deposits linked to the rifting of the Piedmontese Ocean (Brèche nappe) and detrital and relatively deep flysch- type marine deposits (Voirons-Wägital complex and upper layers of the Prealps). The sedimentary series are dated between theTriassic and Eocene for the layers of the Middle Prealps and the Brèche, the Eocene for the Voirons-Wägital complex and between the Late Cretaceous and the Paleocene for the upper layers of the Prealps. They are regularly separated by chaotic units called mixtures and formerly wildflyschs. Finally, along the internal border, we find tectonic scales (or flakes of thrusts) torn from the Helvetic domain (subalpine flysch) then from the molasse of the North Alpine foreland basin (subalpine molasse) and of Oligocene age.

The Chablais has its origin on both sides of the Rhône, at the “summit” of Lake Geneva. Its capital was Saint-Maurice d’Agaune and grouped together 30 municipalities. In the xi th century it became a possession of the House of Savoy. Amédée III will incorporate the region from Thonon to Douvaine into this so-called “Old Chablais” area. In contrast, the latter will take the name of “Nouveau Chablais”. The princes of the House of Savoy stayed on the places claiming their presence, in particular at the castle of Chillon, in the country of Vaud, and at the castle of Ripaille, near Thonon. The Abbey of Saint-Maurice Agaune, was founded in 515 by the future King Burgundian St. Sigismund on the site of an older sanctuary housing the remains of Mauritius, martyr of the iii th century, built by Theodore or Theodule, first known bishop of Valais.

Count Amédée III of Savoy, in the name of a right of government over the Chablais obtained by the Humbertians since the emperor Conrad le Salique, used the pretext of a bad administration of the imperial lieutenant to seize the provinces of Chablais, then of the Aosta Valley, and to grant himself the title of “Duke of Chablais”. In 1128, he enlarged his domain by adding to his government – what was called the “Vieux Chablais” – the region extending from the Arve to the Dranse d’Abondance, thus forming the “Nouveau Chablais”. of which Saint-Maurice d’Agaune became the capital. The xii th century also saw the development of monasticism in Chablais: several monasteries are based near the lake or in remote valleys. This is the case of the abbey of Abondance, the abbey of Aulps, the charterhouse of Vallon, the priory of Meillerie, etc.

In 1475, the Valaisans, following the victory of La Planta, acquired part of Vieux Chablais. However, Monthey and the lower part of Valais remain under the authority of the House of Savoy. The same year, the Bernese occupied the Chablais on the right bank of the Rhône and, with the Mandements of Aigle, Bex, Ollon and Ormonts, formed the government of Aigle.

End of Savoyard domination
In 1536, following the Savoyard aggression on Geneva, Bern again declared war on the Duke of Savoy; the troops led by Hans Franz Nägeli cross the country of Vaud without encountering much resistance. Nägeli occupies all of the new Chablais as far as Thonon via Geneva where he is welcomed as a liberator. The Valaisans do not welcome the news of the Bernese invasion. After the capture of the country of Vaud, they worried and feared that Bern would occupy Monthey and the Lake Geneva region of Savoy. After having informed the Duke of Savoy, the Valaisans descend to occupy the territory of Saint-Maurice in Evian to defend it and ensure the maintenance of the faith, with the promise to return it later to the Duke, against reimbursement of their expenses.

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The municipalities of Saint-Gingolph (1 st February), Evian (9), communities in the Abondance valley, Vacheresse and Bonnevaux (20) and those of Saint-Jean-d’Aulps and Biot (the 22nd) very quickly joined the new Valais authorities. Maxilly becomes Bernese, the lord having taken the oath in Bern. In 1553, Emmanuel-Phillibert of Savoy wanted to take back the States lost by his father. He claims the heritage of his ancestors in the Lake Geneva region. In 1559, Duke Emmanuel-Philibert of Savoy, reestablished in part of his estates by the Cateau-Cambrésis treaties, was now eyeing the land of Vaud by asserting the order of restitution issued in Bern by the Diet of the Empire of 1542. But his former subjects of the canton of Vaud no longer wish to become Savoyards or Catholics again.

With the treaties of Lausanne (1564), then of Thonon (1569), Savoy definitively lost its domination over the Chablais to keep only the so-called Savoyard part, with Thonon as its capital. During the months of February and March 1569, the Valais and Duke Emmanuel-Philibert met in Thonon to reaffirm their alliance of mutual defense and restore its Chablais territories to Savoy.

The Treaty of Thonon, signed on March 4, 1569, ratified in Sion on March 23, 1569 and in Chambéry on April 4, definitively fixes the border of the two states at Morge de Saint-Gingolph. Valais restores to the Duke of Savoy the governments of Evian and Saint-Jean-d’Aulps, but keeps that of Monthey, thus establishing in Chablais the borders as we know them today. War resumed between Geneva and Savoy in 1589. The Swiss and the Genevans took Thonon and Ripaille. With the peace of 1593, the Catholic reconquest of the western Chablais began.

Bailliage of Chablais
The Chablais was one of the eight bailiwicks of the States of Savoy, it corresponded to the territory comprising the current Savoyard part as well as the valley of the Rhône, from the tip of Lake Geneva to the outskirts of Sion, via Aigle and Martigny, as well as the fiefs of the country of Vaud, Chillon, Vevey and Payerne. It included sixteen châtellenies: Chillon-Villeneuve; Geneva (Île-de-Genève); Versoix (Versoy); La Corbière; Yvoire-La Rovorée; Allinges-Thonon (Thonon becomes the center from 1288); Évian and Féternes; Saint-Maurice-d’Agaune-Monthey (from 1350, Monthey became an independent châtellenie); Saxon; Branch off; Entremont; Vevey; Tower of Peil (Peilz); Châtel-Saint-Denis; Conthey and Saillon. The bailiff sat at the Château de Chillon. In 1475, during the Burgundy War, Bern conquered part of the bailiwick of Chablais and formed the government of Aigle.

In 1536, the Bernese and Valaisans seized the bailiwick. The Dranse then marked the border between the Bernese bailiwick of Thonon and the Valais governments of Evian (except Maxilly, the lord having already taken the oath in Bern), Saint-Jean-d’Aulps and Monthey.

The Savoy is a dialect arpitan (one of the three languages Gallo-Romance) still in use in some villages (including Bellevaux). He influenced the French spoken locally in its vocabulary and in its grammatical turns. In 1998, doctor and journalist André Depraz published Le Dictionnaire du Chablaisien, a very complete work on the Arpitanisms of the Chablaisians, prefaced by Valère Novarina.

The delimited area of Abondance cheese roughly corresponds to the French Chablais region. The Pormonaise is a traditional charcuterie from Chablais. The goat is typical of Chablais. There is, even today, in some homes, a crusher, a press and above all a know-how; in the past there was a large press in some village squares. People would bring their “pitains” (crushed apples) to make their cider (called la maude, le forcé).

The route from Machilly to Thonon resumes that of the late highway leaving land acquisitions (about 80%) made by the general council in the early 1980s which linked the 2 × 2 lanes of Machilly-Loisin to that of Sciez-Thonon in passing through the north of Douvaine which thus made it possible to evacuate the commuter traffic (Thonon-Geneva) and to open up the rest of Chablais (tourist access from Yvoire, Nernier and Excenevex and economic traffic to Thonon and the upper Chablais). At the start of 2012, all of the funding was only found for the “Carrefour des Chasseurs” section in Machilly for its installation in 2 × 2 lanes and less than 70% for Machilly in Thonon.

The railway is also being reconsidered in order to better link the Chablais Savoyard to Valais, Annemasse and Geneva. Voices are being raised to rehabilitate the existing railway line, known as ” Tonkin “, closed in 1998 in France between Saint-Gingolph and Évian-les-Bains and still in service in Switzerland.

Since 2001, the World Cycling Center of the International Cycling Union has been established in Aigle.

Several seaside towns are scattered along the south shore of Lake Geneva, including: Yvoire, Excenevex, Sciez, Thonon-les-Bains, Évian-les-Bains, Meillerie, Saint-Gingolph, Port-Valais, etc.

It is also home to a number of leisure parks such as ” Aquaparc “, ” Swiss Vapeur Parc ” and the Leman Forest tree climbing park.

Winter sports resorts
The Chablais is home to the Portes du Soleil, among others, which can be considered as one of the largest international ski areas in the world with 650 km of slopes and 280 ski lift facilities, but without being fully connected.

Abondance, the Portes du Soleil ski area (France)
Avoriaz, Portes du Soleil ski area (France)
Bellevaux -Hirmaz (France)
Bellevaux – La Chèvrerie, Espace Roc d’Enfer ski area (France)
Bernex -Dent d’Oche (France)
Champéry, the Portes du Soleil ski area (Switzerland)
Châtel (France), the Portes du Soleil ski area (France)
Col du Feu-Lullin (France)
Drouzin-Le-Mont-Le Biot-Col du Corbier (France), Portes du Soleil ski area (France)
Gryon, Villars-Gryon ski area (Switzerland)
La Chapelle-d’Abondance, the Portes du Soleil ski area (France)
Les Diablerets (Switzerland)
Les Gets, the Portes du Soleil ski area (France)
Les Habères (France)
Les Mosses (Switzerland)
Leysin (Switzerland)
Montriond, the Portes du Soleil ski area (France)
Morzine, Portes du Soleil ski area (France)
Saint-Jean-d’Aulps: La Grande-Terche, ski areas of Espace Roc d’Enfer and Portes du Soleil (France)
Thollon-les-Mémises (France)
Morgins, Portes du Soleil ski area (Switzerland)
Val D’Illiez (Switzerland), Champoussin, Les Crosets, Portes du Soleil ski area
Villars-sur-Ollon, ski area of Villars-Gryon (Switzerland)
Torgon, Portes du Soleil ski area (Switzerland)