Winter and summer sports resort, Valmeinier is often described as modern, being in particular the latest of the Maurienne resorts. Its origins, however, date back several centuries. Discover the story of a mountain village that came close to disappearing before experiencing a spectacular rebirth.

A mountain village living from agriculture

You have to go back to the 12th century to find a first written trace of the name of Valmeinier (or “in valle Manerii” at the time). It was then only a small village living in quasi autarky. The population depended on farming. However, the task was not easy with a hostile territory with steep slopes. In order to retain the earth, terraces were laid out in order to be able to cultivate cereals, potatoes, hemp, vines...

The religious imprint from this time is visible on the territory with the presence of many crosses on the territory as well as old chapels. The village church has also undergone many restorations and even reconstructions over the centuries. To learn more about the religious heritage of Valmeinier, go to the link below.

The development of mining

From the end of the 17th century until the 19th century, the village of Valmeinier experienced a turning point by diversifying its activities with the development of mining. It was at this time in particular that his name was transformed into “Vallis Mineri”. Benefiting from the presence of slate and anthracite on its territory, Valmeinier was thus able to continue its progress.

Between epidemics such as the plague in the 17th century, wars, the sacking of Valmeinier by the French Revolution in 1793 or the years of poor harvest, the progress of the village is undermined. However, despite all these adventures encountered and the complexity of the development of this mountain territory, the population growth continued and went as far as reaching nearly 850 inhabitants in 1848.

Rural exodus and decline

While Valmeinier is experiencing strong development, industrialization has reached the valley and is slowing down this progress. Activities change and more and more Valmineux become workers in nearby factories.

From bi-active for a few years (factory or mine and work in the fields), the men become factory workers and leave the mountains to settle in their place of work at the bottom of the valley. For nearly a century, the number of permanent inhabitants continued to plummet and came to approach fifty in 1971 with the closing of the last of its five schools in 1972. Agricultural activity was no longer enough to sustain the village. .

Tourism development

Faced with this situation becoming critical with the risk of seeing the village disappear, a new project was launched in 1971 with the aim of focusing on the development of tourism in the area by creating a winter sports resort. Inspired by the arrival of a new municipality, the inhabitants feel concerned and actively participate in the redevelopment of their municipality.

The Crey du Quart sector is equipped first in order to have a connection with the neighboring resort of Valloire. Initially, the project is targeted at the village at an altitude of 1500m. The slopes are tamed in order to make tracks. The old schools in the various hamlets have been transformed into gîtes.

During the development of the resort, the elected officials wanted to integrate the buildings as well as possible into the environment. Priority was given to low buildings with offset roofs and the increasing use over the years of stone, wood and even lauzes. This has notably contributed to the current charm of the resort which has integrated into its territory.

The historic part of the village has also been preserved with stone houses with slate roofs separated by small period alleys. We also recommend that you go for a walk there, for more information do not hesitate to visit the link below.

Station launch

After this extensive work, the kick-off was given in January 1974 with the commissioning of a chairlift and two drag lifts. The main town was equipped between 1984 and 1986 with two holiday centres, condominiums, commercial premises, a new school, a transval to connect the two sides of the valley, the Roi chairlift.

In 1986, the 3rd phase of Valmeinier's tourist development began. A road, ski lifts and the first accommodations in 1800 (Auberge du Grand Fourchon, Aquarius Club Med, Les Carrettes etc…) are built. Valmeinier 1800 is therefore gradually becoming the center of the resort with new equipment. Its reception capacities have been improved with the Pierre et Vacances, Odalys, Espace 2 residences, etc.

A popular family resort

Since then, Valmeinier has continued its development with progressive enlargements. The resort center is now the central point with the presence of an extensive snow front and many shops. An upper station was also built in 1900 with other accommodation and shops. Without forgetting the revitalization of the village of 1500 which was a great success in view of the decline it suffered in the 70s.

The Galibier Thabor ski area shared with Valloire is recognized in the Alps with nearly 160km of slopes. Since December 2019, Valmeinier has even had the highest point in the area with the inauguration of the Sandonière chairlift (2750m). Perfectly established in Maurienne, Valmeinier tends to continue on this good dynamic. Benefiting from a strong tourist attraction both in winter and summer, visitors take pleasure in coming to recharge their batteries in the mountains.

Some information about Valmeinier

• Historically, the first name of the town dates back to the 12th century and was presented as “in valle Manerii” , referring to the valley belonging to a certain Mainier. Thereafter, the name comes to evolve, becoming "Varmenier" then in 1546 “Valmeynier” ou "Varmignier" In the 17th century. In 1677, the name of “Vallis Mineri” spring, certainly highlighting the mines exploited in the surrounding mountains. This name has long suggested that Valmeinier meant the valley of the mines. However, we can therefore see that originally, the name of the town had no link to the mines.

• Its inhabitants are called Valmineux and Valmineuses.

• In 2019, the town had 566 permanent inhabitants.

• The resort's accommodation capacity is estimated at 10 tourist beds.

Germaine Mullet

Book to discover: "Valmeinier from yesterday to today"
On sale in local tobacconists or on order by returning your payment to us
(28 € + 4 € postage), to be sent to:

Heritage Association
Town hall of Valmeinier
73450 Valmeinier

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