The name of Valmeinier derives from ‘Val Minier’, a reference to the silver-bearing copper ore and lead mining in the 18th century, also because of the presence of anthracite exploited especially on the family level for domestic heating.

Valmeinier, Neuvache Valley, with steep slopes whose land was still visible in winter: terraces for the cultivation of cereals (especially rye) but also beans and potatoes from the 18th century;  with small villages with wooden and stone houses, intermingled with each other leaving more space for crops and pastures between 1300 and 1800 m, up to 2500 m for summer transhumance.

Here, therefore, a difficult agro-pastoral life, almost immutable from the 12th to the 20th century, rhythmed by the seasons, regulated by religious practices, as shown by the crosses planted there and there, the chapels of the hamlets, and the church which was rebuilt several times.

However, despite epidemics (plague in the 17th century), wars, the massacre of Valmeinier in the French Revolution in 1793 and the years of bad harvest, the population increased, reaching its maximum (850 inhabitants) in 1848.

Since then, the decline started with industrialization. For many years men had two jobs (working in factories or mining and working the land), then they settled on working in factories and left the mountains to move closer to their work place. Valmeinier was slowly dying away, counting only fifty permanent residents in 1971 with the closure of the last of its five schools in 1972.

 

And so the rebirth of Valmeinier began with a new team leading the local council deciding to develop tourism in Valmeinier villages.

The Crêt du Quart area is equipped with a chairlift that is operational winter 73/74, followed by the village centre (l’entre deux villes) in 1984/85/86 with two holiday centres, residences with co-ownership, local shops, a new school, a cableway to join both sides of the valley and the Roi chairlift.

In 1986 began the 3rd phase of tourist development in Valmeinier with the construction of the road, ski lifts and first accommodation in 1800 (Auberge du Grand Fourchon, Aquarius Club Med, Les Carrettes etc…). Valmeinier has continued to develop and improve the capacity  of receiving tourists with many accommodations like Pierre et Vacances, Odalys, Espace 2…and with an open setting and countryside to discover.

Germaine Mulet