Thursday, November 17, 2011

Villages of the Valais

This past weekend, we explored a little part of the Valais, and the villages of Vissoie, St. Luc, Grimentz, and Ayer.
These beautiful, ancient towns are full of little houses made of "madrier," solid, squared blocks of wood which notch into one another on the corners like Lincoln logs.
These are granaries in the picture above.  Many of the granaries, and some of the houses, are built on stilts, sometimes with flat stones on top of the stilts, to keep out mice.



Since this is a traditionally Catholic area, there are many roadside shrines and crosses.  This beautiful little roadside shrine carries a carving of Mother Mary carrying baby Jesus.  Carved at the bottom are the words, "Notre Dame de La Route, Protege Nous," or, "Our Lady of the Roads, Protect Us."  And we do need protecting on the narrow, cliff-edged roads of this area.

The wood on the old houses has turned black with age and exposure to wind, rain, snow, and sun.

Some of the streets are too small for cars, and are pedestrian only. 






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Some of the buildings are decorated with hand carving.


This area was settled by farmers who herded their cows into the mountains for the summer, to eat the fresh grass and herbs of the alpage, made cheese with the milk, and tended their vines in the Fall after coming back down into the valleys with their herds.



I like the weathered wood on the old granaries which line the cobbled streets.


I wonder what this kettle was used for.  Making cheese?

We saw a wonderful garden with a miniature village carved by a grandfather who lived in the chalet where we stayed.  We were fascinated by the time and care which he put into creating the little buildings.

11 comments:

Cal said...

Beautiful, and amazing really, they look they grew up from the soil rather than having been built!

Anya said...

What an interesting place!

Beth said...

I couldn't believe how beautiful these towns were. I will go back someday. Beth

Ariad said...

What beautiful photos! I love the minature carved villiage.

Francesca said...

Oh what beautiful photos. I'm glad you showed us these places....

Bonnie said...

Wow, so beautiful. Are those houses still inhabited? Doesn't seem like any people around...so I wasn't sure. I am amazed at how some of the houses are perched on flat rocks and then the stilts...that just doesn't seem sound..but then obviously it is because they are still standing after all these years! That is so interesting and amazing! By the way, the alley in the photo just before the wooden signs looks JUST like the alley from the video you posted of the ogres chasing the children!! Do you think it could be the same place...or are there a lot of places that look just like this??

Beth said...

Thanks, Ariad! Those miniature houses are amazing. I know the granddaughter of the man who made them, and I want to learn more about him. Beth

Beth said...

Bonnie, It also looks just like the ogre's village to me, too, but it isn't. The ogre's village is in the German speaking part of Switzerland. I will have to look on a map and see where exactly. The chalets in the village did look inhabited. The streets were very quiet. Perhaps because this is the conge, the quiet, vacation time between the busy summer full of hikers, and the busy winter full of skiers. Beth

Beth said...

Thanks, Francesca. I keep thinking Switzerland can't get more beautiful or amazing....but I think we could keep exploring for years and never run out of new treasures to see. Beth

Katia said...

Beth, I love to see you're vision of the village where I grow up! Thank you for your pictures and making the miniature village from my grandfather Alfred a special place! Katia

Beth said...

Dear Katia,

I love your village! love, Beth