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.’ 
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 more highlights of the Haute Route:
 Anniviers Tourism, Saint Luc – Historical path in Saint Luc
- Haute Route Q&A - May 31, 2019
- Saint Luc: Highlights of the Haute Route - May 23, 2019
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- 5 ways heart rate training will improve your hiking - April 23, 2019
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- Alpenwild’s Tour du Mont Blanc: Part 2 – Courmayeur to Champex Lac - April 15, 2019
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- Big mountains, small wonders: An interview with Alpine Naturalist, Simone van Velzen - March 24, 2019