FAMILY HIKES: « Sur les traces des Graniteurs » (COMBLOUX)

MBFF has now hiked the short themed walk « Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux a couple of times . . .

Every autumn, a group of volunteers goes to tidy up the paths for you!

© Mairie de Combloux

So what exactly is the themed walk « Sur les traces des Graniteurs » ?  It is a short hike with explanatory panels, which explains a rich time in the history of Combloux village and its patrimoine and savoir fairegranite exploitation and cutting!

« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » © combloux.com

Where did the GRANITE BLOCKS come from?
When ❄️ the glaciers moved through our mountain valleys, they carved 🏞 the landscape that we see today . . . And when ❄️ le grand glacier de l’Arve receded from the Arve Valley in 12,000BC, erratic granite blocks from 🏔 the Massif du Mont-Blanc were deposited in various spots, one of these being in large concentration just below the village of Combloux.
Combloux’s erratic blocs are not the only ones to be found 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc – you’ll also see some in: Chamonix (which has its own Sentier des Graniteurs), Servoz, Argentière, the Col du Montet, Médonnet & La Pesse (just above Sallanches), Cordon, Domancy . . . to the great delight these days of 🧗‍♂️ local boulderers!
La moraine boulder, Argentière © montblancfamilyfun.com
La Pesse boulders © montblancfamilyfun.com
Servoz © montblancfamilyfun.com

What story does « Sur les traces des Graniteurs » tell?

Before the 19th century, the local paysans had neither the savoir faire, nor the right tools to work the granite. It wasn’t until the Roi de Sardaigne, Duc de Savoie and Prince de Piémont, Charles Albert, brought over skilled workers from 🇮🇹 Piémont, that the locals learned how to work the granite!

These 🇮🇹 Italian workers were sent over to reconstruct Sallanches after 🔥 the infamous fire of 1840 all but destroyed the town. Sallanches’ 🏛 La Grenette was built later on in 1868, with its columns and floor built from Combloux granite!

After Sallanches was rebuilt, certain enterprising workers bought blocks of granite from the locals and cut them for the Comblorans’ domestic use: basins, door and window lintels, pig troughs, crosses, vaults, lavoirs . . .

Many of these 🇮🇹 Italians stayed on in Combloux, and they certainly left their legacy; you’ll see lots of Italian surnames prevalent in our valley!

La Grenette (Sallanches) © montblancfamilyfun.com
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © combloux.com

The granite parcours – what to expect
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » is 1,4km long. It is located at the entrance to Combloux village, coming from Sallanches (where you see the big roundabout that says C O M B L O U X !), and it starts in industrial zone Plan des Mouilles . . . but it is also perfectly hidden in 🌲 the forest!
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux – start of walk © montblancfamilyfun.com
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux – the start of the walk © montblancfamilyfun.com

There are 🗺 informative panels to read (in French) all along the parcours:

« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com
The walk uses the paths and ramps of access to the granite created at the start of 19th century by the granite workers . . . you’ll learn, through the panels, different aspects of this arduous work: reconstruction of a forge, the tools used to smooth the granite . . . By walking this trail, you’ll get an understanding of how very hard these graniteurs worked to make a living!
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com

It is fascinating to glimpse the vestiges of the old quarries and tools: winches, slides, access ramps, boarding wharfs, the tools used to smooth the granite . . .

Some of the erratically strewn blocks of granite have been given names . . .

« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux – autumn light © montblancfamilyfun.com

Children will find the trail fun: little ups and downs, bridges to cross, little streams, 🧗‍♂️ granite blocks to clamber over . . .

« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com

And, of course, there are the requisite 🏔 mountain views . . .

« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux – panoramic shot © ONF

The light on our 🍁 autumn visit was very special . . .


MBFF tips – tried & tested

🍏 pack a picnic – there are plenty of spots to stop and enjoy a picnic . . .

« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com
« Sur les traces des Graniteurs » in Combloux © montblancfamilyfun.com

Laurenzio Granits – guided visits

There is still ⚒ a granite cutting workshop in Combloux – Laurenzio Granits – and you can visit Laurenzio’s workshop! Every Friday at 17h there are guided tours, where you can discover the trade of being a granite stonemason: find out about how they extract the granite from various sources, and then see the finished prodcucts – from kitchen work tops, to chimneys, to fountains . . . you’ll be treated to demonstrations of block splitting in the quarry, flaming, cutting and the polishing of Mont-Blanc granite blocks . . .

[ see here for more information about ⚒ the Laurenzio Granits guided tours ]

Laurenzio Graniteur © combloux.com
© Combloux Tourisme

⚒ Laurenzio Granits is a family company that was set up in 1967, but with the experience in granite and stone cutting that stretches over 4 generations. As well as the guided tours, they produce granite products for clients: ” In our quarry, in Combloux in Haute-Savoie, we extract the granite from Mont-Blanc in the form of erratic blocks from glacial moraines. We cut the blocks at the corners and in the mass as in the old way, which preserves the quality of a natural and rustic cut, without weakening the stone. These quarry blocks are then transported to our workshops, which are equipped with numerically controlled machines. This is where our blocks will be cut, softened, polished, flamed, or even bush hammered. “

address: 340 route de la Barme, 74920, Combloux / tel: 06 73 02 13 84; 
website: www.granits-montblanc.fr;
Laurenzio Graniteur © combloux.com

Further activities nearby

As this is a short walk, you might want to make the most of your time in Combloux to try out some other activities and sights on offer:

🚵‍♂️ pumptrack, skatepark & city stade – make sure you pack skateboards, bikes, scooters and balls for fun here! / see MBFF article here;

🌈 playgrounds –  you have a choice of THREE playgrounds in Combloux / see MBFF article here;

💦 Plan d’Eau Biotope – naturally cleansed by plants, this swimming lake is popular in the summertime / see MBFF article here;

⛪️ Église Saint-Nicolas de Combloux – one of the several beautiful Baroque churches of the Pays du Mont-Blanc, this church was built at the start of the 18th century;

🥗 cafés and restaurants – you have plenty of choice for restaurants in Combloux, but here are some suggestions:

  • 🥗 Marmite & Co – this restaurant in the centre of Combloux gets great reviews from my Combloux-residing friends / see FB page here;
  • 🥗 Le Coin Savoyard – located just opposite the pumptrack, this 200 year old building houses a restaurant and hotel (with small swimming pool!);

    © Le Coin Savoyard
  • 🍰 Miss Clafoutis – a little tea-room and concept store in the centre of Combloux / see FB page here;
  • 🍻 La Tanière – a new bar with many local beers to try / see FB page here;
  • 🥗 Le Dandy – you can’t beat this restaurant’s location, overlooking the Plan d’Eau Biotope, and with Mont-Blanc twinkling in the background! / see FB page here;
Le Dandy © Le Dandy, Combloux

Walk details, access, parking and map

📏 length: walk is a mere 1,4 km, but you’ll take time to read the pannels along the way, to observe the granite quarry machinery and to clamber on the rocks, so expect to take around 1h30.

🚗 getting there: for access to the « Sur les traces des Graniteurs » from Combloux centre, park in the 🅿️ Parking des Cristaux (just above the Plan d’Eau Biotope), and follow the marked trail that takes you past the Ferme à Isidore (Musée de Pente) . . . if you have smaller children or less able walkers, then you can park nearer the beginning of the trail in the 🅿️ ZAC de Plan Mouillé (just above ⚽️ the Combloux football pitch).

🗓 opening dates: the hike is 🗓 open all year-round, but do make sure that you have good footwear especially in the winter months, when the paths can be slippery!

[ Combloux Tourisme link here ]

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