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The Tarentaise Valley, a large valley located between the French Alps, also known as the intra-Alpine valley, hides a most fascinating past. From the Neolithic to the present day, it has developed over several periods and has transformed into a rich land as we know it today.
The history of the Tarentaise begins between 6000 and 2000 BC, when the first traces of humans were found. During this post-glacial era, the fauna and flora are then modified, allowing the development of pastoralism 1 . This agricultural exploitation therefore generated an increasingly high population density around 1350 BC, as evidenced by the numerous tombs discovered in St Jean de Belleville dating from the end of the Bronze Age.
However, it was not until the arrival of the Romans, in the year 15 BC, that Axima, the current Aime, became the capital of the Roman province of the Graean Alps 2 . During this same period, and more precisely in -3 BC, a Roman road was built linking Vienne to Milan and mainly crossing Moûtiers, Aime and Bourg-Saint-Maurice.
There followed a cohabitation between Romans and Burgundians, a people of the group of Eastern Germans, between 443 and 534, allowing the development of Christianity in this region.
It was not until the 10th century that the Tarentaise valley officially claimed to be part of Savoy.
During this medieval period, when Christianity reigned supreme, the Archbishop of Tarentaise became Count and direct vassal of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 996. It was only a few centuries later, in 1416, that the Count Amédée VIII is promoted Duke of Savoy and Prince of the Holy Germanic Empire by the Germanic Emperor Sigismund. This status then marks a turning point in the history of the Tarentaise.
At the end of the Renaissance, the French occupations in the 16th and 17th centuries marked the history of Savoy. Many kings such as François Ier, Henri IV, Louis XIII, Richelieu and Louis XIV will invade it, establishing at the same time French as the official language for official papers.
Seasonal emigration is developing at the same time over a large part of the territory, thus strengthening the solidarity of the country. However, at the end of the 18th century, mid-19th century, Savoy, the Tarentaise sees itself juggling between Austria, France and the Sardinian monarchy. It was then necessary to wait until March 24, 1860, with the Treaty of Turin, for Savoy to be definitively ceded to France.
The era of industrialization had already begun, a railway was built in Bourg-Saint-Maurice and large dams were put in place to create hydroelectricity, thus allowing the establishment of chemical and metallurgical industries. This development strongly modifies the agricultural system preventing peasants from emigrating as was the case in the last centuries.
La Tarentaise expands its activity at the end of the 19th century in the establishment of the first high mountain refuges allowing the sporting beginnings of skiing in the region. The first ski competition was subsequently organized in 1910 in the town of Moûtiers.
In the 20th century, at the twilight of the two world wars, tourism developed significantly in this region. Skiing then takes an important place after the years 1945 developing the region in a significant capitalistic activity. Indeed, the project of a winter sports resort in Courchevel is set up causing the expansion of other ski resorts from the second half of the 20th century.
This project then allows the development of tourism which will subsequently be one of the economic pillars of the Tarentaise.
Today, this territory is the largest basin of winter tourism industry in the world. Indeed, bringing together three of the largest ski areas in the world, the Tarentaise includes the city of Courchevel which is considered today as the world capital of skiing.
1 “Mode of farming based on breeding in natural pastures”. Dictionary Le Robert
2 “Subset and massif of the Franco-Italian Alps”: