SAVOIE: La Haute Maurienne

From Chambéry through Bessans to the Averole valley, the routes go over two passes on the territory of the Duchy of Savoy, the Arnès pass (3,010 m), and its descent into the Ala valley, and the Autaret pass (3,072 m), which descends towards the Viù valley. Turin is reached through ‘Marguerite’s Lands’. This territory, the Lanzo valleys (Alà and Viù), ruled by the Laws of Marguerite written in the mid fourteenth century, remained
faithful to the House of Savoy in the sixteenth century.
La Haute Maurienne – Site 07

Bramans (1250 m)

A gateway to Italy. In Roman times, Bramans used to play an important role for travellers crossing the Alps because it was the last location before the Italian border. Instead of going towards Lanslebourg to take the Great Mont-Cenis pass, the path led up to the Ambin valley as far as Le Planay, and then to the track of la Crostaz before linking up with the Savine valley and going through the Savine-Coche pass.
A rockfall, which probably occurred in the eighth century, blocked that path. The route was then modified in favour of the Petit-Mont-Cenis pass (2,183 m). This new way led to the village of Extravache. From the thirteenth century onwards, this passage was abandoned in its turn so as to lead to the Grand-Mont-Cenis pass instead. Bramans then lost some of its importance, but it remained a popular stopover on the road.
In 1620, Dominique Ganières founded a hospital there, which offered travellers and poor people board and lodgings. There used to be a chapel dedicated to the Holy Shroud which has now disappeared.
The church of Saint-Pierre-d’Extravache (1,680 m)
Located above Bramans, on a site with beautiful views, is the church of Saint-Pierre-d’Extravache. It is believed to have been built in the first century, which makes it the oldest church in Savoy. It was allegedly founded by two disciples of Saint Peter – Elie and Milet. It was replaced in the eleventh century by a Romanesque church which was devastated by two fires and rebuilt several times. Its steeple still remains.
So does its original apse from the eleventh century, where the traces of a much damaged fresco from the seventeenth century are visible. A copy of the latter as it originally was can be seen in the church of Bramans.

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