- Discovering Samoëns
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Located in the centre of historic Samoëns, the old covered market and the Large Lime Tree serve as reminders of an age-old past but are still used as convivial meeting-places. In fact, they are a major part of local life. A example of living heritage.
The old covered market, standing proudly on Place du Gros Tilleul, serves as a reminder of distant days when the economy of the whole valley centred on the main village and its weekly market. The regular Wednesday morning market in Samoëns was introduced by letters patent signed by Count Amadeus VI of Savoy in 1355. To provide shelter for the market, protect the goods and make it easier to pay dues, the villagers built the first covered market at that time. Every week, people would buy or sell sheets, furs, bonnets, seeds, fruit, eggs, cheese and meat and the market prospered. The covered market gets its name of "Grenette" from one of its original functions - to provide protection for cereals and seeds against bad weather during the weekly market. The building was also used for two annual fairs, auction sales in spring and public meetings that gave rise to the earliest forms of municipal life.
The mediaeval wooden "grain store" was razed to the ground by a huge fire in 1476. Rebuilt in exactly the same way in the years that followed, the market was again ravaged by fire in 1537.
The current building was erected during the 18th century. It is a strong, massive construction supported by a huge colonnade built of stone from Les Fontaines and it benefited from the expertise of Samoëns' stonemasons as well as concerns about hygiene at that time. A stream was diverted towards the building and was used as a sewer. It flowed in the open air for more than two hundred years before being covered over to please people out for a stroll.
Since buildings were gradually spaced out in the area around the market and the threat of fire gradually disappeared, the covered market has survived to this day, albeit with several restoration projects along the way. The superb rafters in the roof of La Grenette were replaced in the 1880's but the market still has some features from the original building.
La Grenette was included in the church conservation area in 1983 as a historic monument and no longer houses the food market on a Wednesday morning. Yet it has never been so busy. It was become a venue for popular events, much to the delight of locals and visitors to the resort and it remains an unusual and much-loved place in which to meet and chat.
Summer is Samoëns means a holiday in a small town full of old chalets and flower-decked balcones or in the renovated wooden farmhouses in the nearby hamlets. It means a whole range of leisure activities.
A difficult climb with no respite that has featured in the Tour de France on numerous occasions. Magnificent views of Mont Blanc. Mean gradient: 7.5%