Our village history
Yesterday, our hamlets...
Today Venosc is composed of eleven hamlets but during the XX (twentieth) Century Venosc was composed of nearly thirty hamlets.
On the path which goes up to the Lake Muzelle there were many hamlets like:
- Le Pleynet,
- Le Cerisier,
- Le Pré,
- Le Petit Grenoble,
- Le Con,
- la Brodière,
On the path which goes up to Les Deux Alpes there were:
- Le Ferraret,
- La Combe
- La Rivoire
- La Ponsonnière
- Les Poyas,
- L'Alpe de Venosc.
In the direction of the Lake Lauvitel there were:
- Les Aiguillons,
- Les Ougiers,
- Les Escallons,
- La Danchère,
Today the only hamlets that are still populated are:
- Le Bourg d'Arud,
- Le Sellier,
- Le Courtil,
- La Ville,
- Les Ors (en face de la mairie),
- Le Collet.
In olden times, the Ligurian tribes lived in the valley. They established a path which went up to Les Deux Alpes. The valley was closed to outsiders and people lived under a form of dictatorship. The first inhabitants of the valley came here 7,500 years BC (before Christ).
Between the XIII and the XV centuries, villagers' communities appeared. They had a harsh life because of the difficult access to the valley, the many natural risks like rockslides and the intensive labour required to cultivate the land.
During the XVII and the XVIII centuries many visitors came to the valley. They were engineers, topographers, botanists and geologists. Their purpose was to study the area.
During the XIX century Venosc became the flower hawking capital of the region. A hawker is a door-to-door salesman. At the same time, farmers, mountain goat hunters and shepherds became mountain guides. In 1877 Pierre Gaspard from St Christophe en Oisans climbed la Meije, the famous summit of the area. His family became famous grace the job of guide.
During the XX Century (exactly between 1900 and 1923) the road to go to la Berarde was built. It was the beginning of the touristic influx. La Berarde became between the two World Wars the second mountaineering French station. It was the beginning of accommodation like campsites and hotel business in the valley. The creation of the ski resort of Les Deux Alpes offered many jobs to locals who became ski instructors.
In 1972 the cable car between Venosc and Les Deux Alpes offered tourists the possibility to come and discover the Veneon valley with its quaint shops and hotels.
The creation of the National Park of the Ecrins in 1973 brought further recognition to the area. Tourists who came to Venosc sought the naturally wild landscape, the many hiking trails and tranquillity. The National Park of the Ecrins is the largest national park in France.
The new gondola lift was installed in 1995.
Spring was dedicated to ploughing the land
From April onwards, people had to move the earth from the bottom of the slopes where it had fallen in the winter, back up to the top
During May the animals were moved from their stables each morning and they returned each evening from June onwards entire families were based in the Alpe de Venosc.
Throughout the summer the men maintained the meadows, harvested cereals and cut hay from the alpine meadows.
The most important date in the calendar was September 22nd; the trade fair in Bourg d'Oisans where the animals were sold.
Winter was dedicated to hawking.This activity was practised in Venosc until the XIX century. Men left the village every year during winter to try to earn a little money in distant cities. Venosc became the flower hawking capital in the region. Women stayed at home to feed the animals and to take care of the children. Some hawkers went abroad to sell their seeds and bulbs. Other work during winter was in the slate mines.
From the end of the XIX Century until the start of winter sports, slate was one of the main sources of income and allowed men to work all year round. Most of the slate mine workers were farmers who recommenced their agricultural activities in the spring. These men were paid according to the number of slates extracted. The slate mines closed in 1972.
In those days, Grenoble was famous for its glove making and jobs were offered to those who worked from home. The gloves were made and then the foreman came to each house to collect them and take them back to Grenoble.
Deux Alpes création…
This tourist resort was a pastoral plateau before World War Two where the Venosc and Mont de Lans farmers used to make the hay and keep their herd during summer. With the advent of the ski industry les 2 Alpes ski resort has now become a large town with accommodation for 30,000 people.
In 1879, Pierre Balme from Venosc saw an opportunity to attract tourists during summer and opened the Balme Hostel (today Chalet Mounier). It wasn't long before the farmers' huts were converted into inns, hotels and mountain refuges for tourists.
In 1932, Mrs Tessa became the first permanent inhabitant in Les Deux Alpes. Her hotel remained opened all year round.
In 1935, The Mounier Hotel welcomed several young skiers during Christmas and Easter.
In 1939, Jules Carrel, a young ski instructor from la Berarde, had one objective: to develop the whole area and create a renowned winter sports resort. Many lifts were constructed in order to develop the ski resort
In 1955, many hotels opened to welcome the new tourists.
In 1972, Venosc and Mont de Lans were linked to the ski resort by cable car.
Venosc has one of the oldest sun dials in the Alps. It was built in 1669. Quite a few houses had sun dials. You can read on it in Latin the inscription "soleil qui ne connaît pas de fin" which means "the sun knows no end". This particular sun dial was restored in 1997.
The style of the main church is roman. It dates back to the IX Century. Thanks to generous donations from wealthy people like Jacques Rochette, the church was one of the richest in the Oisans region. The church wealth was due also to hawkers' donations. The belfry holds the oldest bell in the Oisans region and dates back to 1622. Jacques Rochette is buried just before you enter the church.