Over the past few decades, the people of Brides-les-Bains, the Méribel valley and les 3 Vallées have seen changes that have made them part of the most modern mountain tourist destinations in the world today.

Yet they have kept their feet firmly on the ground, and embrace their centuries-old heritage. Their heritage is one of hard work, of farmers working thin, poor soils, coming down the mountain to prune the vines in spring, taking their animals to graze in the mountains in summer where they made the cheese that would feed their families.

In the winter, in barns warmed by their animals, the children read and did their homework, the women spun and the men repaired tools and clogs.

In each village stood a chapel, a water trough (called a ‘badsé’) and a communal oven where families took turns baking bread for everyone.

This mutual cooperation extended to the maintenance of paths and fences and fire-fighting. On feast days and for ceremonies, everyone dressed in their finest attire: for women, this meant the typical Tarentaise black mutton-sleeved dress hemmed with velvet, an embroidered apron and a brightly woven silk shawl over a white frilled bodice.

On their heads they wore a ‘berre’, a satin headdress typical of the valley, in black for adults and white for brides and young girls. As for jewellery, they wore a ‘Jeannette’ cross and heart on a ribbon or chain around their necks. This could be in silver or gold, depending on the wealth of the family or the husband.

Today, the local inhabitants work for the resort, while some still graze the animals in summer. Many still light the communal bread oven and bring out their traditional attire for village festivities, proud of their heritage!


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