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La Clusaz (Municipality, Haute-Savoie, France)

Last modified: 2012-04-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: haute-savoie | clusaz (la) | ram |
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[Flag of La Clusaz]

Flag of La Clusaz - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 13 September 2003

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Presentation of La Clusaz

The municipality of La Clusaz (2,023 inhabitants in 1999; 4,062 ha) is located in the Pays of Thônes, which is delimited by five passes and three defiles. The village was built in a cluse (a narrow valley) formed by the river Nom, just below the Col des Aravis (1,498 m), which is now the border between the two departments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie. A cluse is locally called clusa, as well as in Latin. Built around an isolated chapel, the village became a model of Christian piety, accordingly named Clusa Locus Dei or La Cluse-Lieu-Dieu (The God's Place Cluse) by the abbots of Talloires (see below).

The village of La Clusaz, first owned by the Clets family, was purchased in 1235 by the powerful abbey of Talloires, located on the neighbouring Lake of Annecy. A castle was built by the abbots, but the village became progressively more and more independent. In 1830, the road linking La Clusaz to Thônes was built; the road Annecy-Thônes-Chamonix via the Col des Aravis was opened in 1902. Winter sports developed in La Clusaz, the first skiers being recorded in winter 1908-09. Ski was practiced only by the Alpine troops and members of the upper classes from Annecy and Geneva.
In 1925, the school teacher Bertone created the Sports Club in La Clusaz. A skating rink was built in 1928, as well as a first skilift in 1935. The ski resort of La Clusaz gained international fame in the 1960s, mostly because of the success of the local champions. The skier Guy Périllat won the gold medal in the combined in the Olympic Games in Squaw Valley (1960). Champion of the world in slalom in Portillo (1966), he won 88 international races. The alpinist Yves Pollet-Villard, Mayor of La Clusaz (1959-1981) did several ascensions and salvages in the Mont-Blanc and the Himalayas. More recently, Edgar Grospiron won the gold medal in moguls in the Olympic Games in Albertville (1992) and was World Champion in 1995 in La Clusaz. The skier Régine Cavagnoud, champion of the world in Super G in 2001, died tragically during practice in Austria. In 2002, Vincent Vittoz was the first French cross-country skier to win a World Cup race.

La Clusaz is known for its numerous hamlet chapels, the oldest one, in Le Parc hamlet, dating back to 1631.. The most famous of them is the St. Ann's chapel, built on the Col des Aravis for the protection of the travelers lost in snowstorms. The chapel, founded in 1687 by a local lord, was a bone of contention between La Clusaz and La Giettaz, the village located on the other side of the pass. God, a bit worried by the dispute, sent angels to solve the problems. The angels ploughed a furrow, whose remains can still be seen near the chapel, to delimit the border between the two competing willages. And the chapel was found to be on the territory of La Clusaz!

Ivan Sache, 13 September 2003

Flag of La Clusaz

The flag of La Clusaz is white, with the municipal logo.

On 7 October 1601, La Clusaz was granted arms, "Vert a sheep argent", by Duke of Savoy, Charles-Emmanuel I.
The sheep might refer to the piety of the inhabitants of La Clusaz or, more simply, to sheep oversummering in the green pastures of La Clusaz. Later, the sheep was changed to a ram. The ram was shown on the official municipal mailings, the emblem of the tourist bureau, and on the emblem of the sports club. In the 1990s, a single logo was adopted for all the municipal services, which was modified in 1996.

Ivan Sache & Olivier Touzeau, 13 September 2003