Saint Luc: Highlights of the Haute Route

 

Saint Luc is one of the many charming towns you will have the pleasure of discovering along the Haute Route. Located in the centre of the Valais at 1650 m, it enjoys sunshine from morning to evening and is a wonderful place to relax after a hard day of hiking.

Saint Luc is mentioned in archives as far back as the thirteenth century, at which time it was called ‘Lus’. The name was changed to ‘Luc’ in the 1300s and Saint Luc in 1900. If you have time, it’s worth stopping by the Tourist office to pick up a walking tour guide that will take you through the key sites of this historic village.

From Agriculture to Tourism

The economy of Saint Luc, as with the surrounding villages, was based on agriculture and livestock. For centuries the people of the Valais would migrate every year between their winter homes in the Rhone valley, up to their summer homes in the mountains to let their livestock graze and farm the land. Cereals (wheat, oats, corn), potatoes and beans were cultivated, and until the 1950’s local produce was almost enough to feed the residents.

Hotel development began in the mid-1800s and soon overtook agriculture as the main source of income. Today, Saint Luc has a year-round population of only 300 residents, but 6,000 guest beds.

A History Ravaged by fire

In 1845 a fire broke out in the forge and spread through Saint Luc at such a rate that the entire village was almost destroyed. Luckily no one was killed but only 12 families of 142 were spared with their houses still standing.

‘Within hours, the fire destroyed 305 buildings, 112 houses went up in smoke and their contents ranging from furniture, to clothes, dishes, kitchen equipment, spinning wheels, looms, books, papers, memories and so many personal things. In addition to the houses, attics, barns stables, granaries, and other storage spaces went up in flames, Worse, all of the crops of the year, grains, beans, potatoes, fruit, hay, some of which had been kept for several years, also burned.’ [1]

Just thirteen years later, a second serious fire hit the small village. Though not nearly as catastrophic as the first, 68 homes were destroyed but luckily the damage to food stocks was minimal. This was thanks to the fact that recommendations to separate farm buildings from residential areas was respected after the first fire.

Just 38 days after the fire, the State Council issued a decree which laid out regulations for the rebuild of the village. All residential homes were rebuilt in stone and old farm buildings were removed. The fires are the reason why, despite its long history, the oldest building in the village only dates back to 1702.

Hotel Bella Tolla

The Hotel Bella Tolla was opened in August 1883 by the Pont family who ran the hotel for four generations. In 1996 it was taken over by Anne Francoise and Claude Buchs whose work on upgrading the hotel was rewarded with the Historic hotel label. Staying at this luxury spa hotel is an incredible experience and feels like stepping back in time.

On Alpenwild’s Haute Route tour, we stay for one night in the Bella Tolla. On our Deluxe Haute Route, we stay for two nights allowing a rest day in Saint Luc.

Read about the difference between our Haute Route and Deluxe Haute Route trek.

Photo Credit: bellatola.ch/en/hotel
Bella Tola Spa
Photo Credit: bellatola.ch/en/hotel
Bella Tola Spa
Photo Credit: bellatola.ch/en/hotel

Read more highlights of the Haute Route:

Source

[1] Anniviers Tourism, Saint Luc – Historical path in Saint Luc

 

Jennifer Stretton

About Jennifer Stretton

Jen grew up about as far from the mountains and nature as you can get—in Birmingham, UK. When she first visited the Alps on a university climbing trip, she immediately fell in love with the place. After graduating with a degree in Geography, Jennifer spent the next few years travelling the world, volunteering with conservation charities and freelance marketing to fund her adventures. In 2015 she settled full time in the Chamonix Valley and began training to become an international mountain leader. An avid climber and environmentalist, Jen’s passion for the mountains and the natural world is contagious. When she’s not guiding, Jennifer spends her free time climbing, skiing, travelling and trying to keep up with her dog on trail runs. Sociable, caring and always smiling, Jen is the perfect guide to keep you laughing and motivated on your journey. She looks forward to meeting you next summer!

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