It is a municipality located in the area of the Great St. Bernard, at more than 1200 meters of altitude, on the border with Switzerland. Mont Vèlan, la Tete de Barasson, the Mount Chenaille, the Salliaousa, the Grande Moline, the Tete de Faudery and Mont Fallère, give the area a natural protecting from the winds and this makes the climate milder and more agreeable. The municipality, located on the path to the Great St. Bernard, is formed by a series of small villages, dotted here and there, some of which built at more 1600 meters of altitude. North of the village lie the districts of Vachery and Collar and between them, there is a tower built in the XII century. Interesting is the old main centre with cobblestone streets, old stone houses and beautiful fountains. The rich fauna and flora offer interesting excursions in the mountains.
The Romans called the village Restapolis and it represented the most important center of the valley with its Winter garrison. For centuries it was the capital of Valle del Gran San Bernardo. In medieval times the inhabitants were often in conflict with the municipality of Saint Oyen for the possession of lands of Citrin. The territory remained under the direct jurisdiction of Savoy, that in 1584 formed the Barony of Gignod, which included also: Saint Etienne, Saint Martin de Corleans, Etroubles, Saint Rhémy, part of Allein and Saint Oyen and was assigned to François de la Crete, as reward for their dedication and services. In 1800 Napoleon stopped in the village during his journey towards Marengo, theatre of a historic battle against the Austrians. He sheltered in the Hospice of the Great St. Bernard, then he continued on to Etroubles, where he was hosted by the Abbot Lèonard Veysendaz.
Not to miss:
The Parish Church, that was mentioned for the first time in an official document of 1177, exactly in an edit of Pope Alexander III. The original structure, oriented from East to West, presented an entrance inside the tower, which was demolished because of its small size and in its state of decay. The present building was rebuilt in 1814 on the same spot, where the old church stood, but oriented in a different way and features a Bell Tower, built in 1480, separated from the main structure.
The Chapel of San Rocco, located at the bottom of the cemetery of Etroubles, was consacrated in the early XVII century. In the beginning it was dedicated to the Holy Trinity, but in 1867, the locals made a vow to St. Rocco and offered to restore it.
The Chapel in Vachery entitled to Our Lady of Sorrows and St. John, was founded in 1506 and probably rebuilt in the XVIII century.
The Chapel in Eternon, dating back to 1653, is dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua.
The Chapel in Echevennoz, dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows and the Virgin of the Assumption, is the oldest of the area and was founded in 1440, demolished in 1773, it was rebuilt shortly later. It presents a simple-look façade and is adorned only by a large fresco, which dates back to 1886. It features a small bell tower incorporated into the main structure. Inside it preserves is a fine painted and gilded wooden altar embellished with a painting of the coronation of the Virgin.
The Chapel of Bezet, dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, was probably built in 1742.
Parcours historique et culturel sur la route du Grand Saint Bernard, the first open air museum set up for the first time in 2005. It houses works of international renowned artists such as: Mekhtiev, Balan, Bolano, Gambale, Sebaste, Zanni.
The Tower of Vachery, located in the homonymous village, was probably built in the XII century on the ruins of a pre-existing Roman building. It features a square shaped plan.