Seeing is believing…
Baroque art was created to glorify God and muster the Christian faith during the 16th century. With around 80 edifices devoted to this unique style, Baroque is a singular feature of the French Alps and the Savoie département. With the “Baroque Escapades in the Alps” programme, the Facim* Foundation takes people back through time along the royal roads leading from Turin to Nice and Chambéry via the mountain passes. Follow in the footsteps of those who once walked Les 3 Vallées…
A guided driving tout (3 hours – free) to discover the religious heritage of the resort’s two hamlets – the Saint-Bernard chapel in La Jairaz (between Courchevel Le Praz and Saint-Bon) and the Sainte-Marguerite chapel in Nouvaz (a few minutes from Courchevel Le Praz), both of which are home to a number of Baroque gems. Colour and gilding are the two main characteristics of the Baroque movement, as well as a host of fake materials that require immense knowledge and skill to create. These include wood panelling that perfectly imitates rock, and tiny details hidden in vast creations. Come and see for yourself!
An open visit of the Baroque church of Saint-Martin is now possible thanks to new learning material available in French and English at the entrance. You can also pick it up a copy in Courchevel and explore the Baroque churches of Saint-Bon and La Perrière, as well as other edifices in the Vallée des Belleville in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, Saint-Jean-de-Belleville and Notre-Dame-de-la-Vie.
In the Vallée des Belleville
- New this year, a “Baroque Escapade in the French Alps” has been launched in the Vallée des Belleville. Entitled “In the Footsteps of the Blessed Paul,” this programme offers a day hike with a mountain guide in the Vallée des Belleville, a meal at an alpine refuge, a visit to the European Dark Bee foundation, a sensory Baroque experience, and a chance to meet a cheesemaker and sample his succulent Beaufort!
- Other sensory Baroque experiences are also available at the Notre-Dame-de-la-Vie chapel. This original, emotion-packed tour is the best way to find out about the history of our mountain communities and their devotion to chapels and churches during the 17th and 18th centuries. Built in honour of the Virgin Marie, the Notre-Dame-de-la-Vie sanctuary is located on the Route des Menuires. This edifice was revamped between 2012 and 2016, and its original construction was partly inspired by the discovery of an ancient statue of the Virgin and Child nearby. Today, it remains an important pilgrimage site and hosts major celebrations on 15 August and the first Sunday of September.
The “Le Baroque dans Tous les Sens” sensory experience: 14 and 28 July, 11 August. Free.Sensory experiences are offered alongside guided driving tours to discover the valley’s Baroque gems – the Saint-Barthélémy chapel in Villarenger and the Saint-Jean-Baptiste chapel in Béranger. The “La Ronde des Hameaux” hamlet tour: 21 July, and 4 and 18 August. Free.
Other cultural events:
- The Saint-Martin-de-Belleville museum: open visits and guided tours to discover life in the past and the arrival of the resorts. Storytelling for children on Wednesdays at 2.30 p.m
- Guided tour of the Burdin windmill on Fridays at 10 and 11 a.m
- Heritage tour of the village with a free map from the Maison du Tourisme
- The artisan market every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from 9 July
- The village of Deux Nants: a guided tour (fee required) to meet one of the alpine farmers, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (23 and 30 July, 6 and 13 August)
Courchevel Tourisme and the Facim Foundation have partnered up to offer some 15 events focused on local historical and architectural heritage. These include meeting the alpine cattle farmers, a guided tour of the hamlets of Courchevel, and a historical tour of the pioneering resort.
The main altarpiece is completely covered in gold leaf, the decoration is opulent, and the interior is entirely devoted to the Virgin Mary. Wall paintings immortalise the important moments of her life and the people around her in both the Old and New Testaments. Inside, visitors will also discover the ex-voto offerings – painting gifted as a sign of thanks, depicting a fate that the donor had escaped (illness, death, accident, etc.). This series demonstrates how dangerous and difficult it was to live in the valley during the 17th century. Notre-Dame-de-la-Vie was also a longstanding place of respite and comfort. People would come to the church with their stillborn babies to have them baptised before burying them in the nearby cemetery.
Sylvain AYMOZ / OT Méribel