My local commune is the village of Musièges, with about 300 inhabitants, but it is high on a hill named "Le Mont" (the mountain) on the other side of the Usses River, and I am its only resident on the south side of the river. When the mayor came to help with my water connection a few years ago, it was the first time he had visited this part of his commune. Between Brameloup and Musièges, on the other side of the river, is Les Bonnets, an economic activity zone (a kind of small industrial park) with a sawmill, agricultural store, warehouses and a Fromagerie (cheese factory). At least when I buy butter and cheeses at the local supermarket, like Tomme de Savoie, rebluchon or raclette, I know that it was made locally, probably with milk from the cows whose bells I hear, very ecological with minimal transport. My eggs come from Seyssel, another town on the Rhone River about 15 km away..
The closest community to Brameloup is in fact the large village of Frangy, with about 1,800 residents. I am just at its limit, with part of my land in that municipality.
Frangy is just a 10 minute walk down my road, through a tunnel under the national highway bypass, and across a suspension footbridge, La Passerelle de Brameloup, over the Usses River.Tunnel Footbridge
Frangy is a cantonal centre, with a gendarmerie and fire station, doctors and dentist, schools and multipurpose hall, bank, pharmacy, a variety of stores and a supermarket.Centre of Frangy
As with all the villages in our area, old houses are being renovated and small apartment blocks being built as more people move in, so it is not looking as run-down as when I first moved here. The city of Annecy is less than a half hour away, and is developing in our direction, with a giant shopping centre and new hospital complex only 15 minutes from Frangy. A new superhighway between Geneva and Annecy was recently completed, which has improved access to the region, bringing more people.
I am glad that planning restrictions limit new construction to existing villages, and that my side of the river is zoned for nature conservation with no building permitted. My green island of calm is reasonably secure.
Above Frangy on a rocky outcrop on the side of the mountain opposite to my chalet is the village of Chaumont, higher than my chalet and in the middle of my view across the valley. Chaumont is dominated by the remains of a medieval castle, built in 1124 by the Counts of Geneva. It was a strategic site of great economic and military importance, at the intersection of two great routes in the Middle Ages between Geneva and Lyon, and between Genoa and Franche-Comté. The castle was razed in 1616 (along with a similar castle at Clermont 15 km south of my chalet) by Henry 1st of Genevois-Nemours, cousin of the Duke of Savoy, to prevent the region from having the capacity to resist his domination.
One of my wife Martine's ancestors came from Chaumont. François-Antoine Curtet (1763-1830) was the son of Christophe Curtet (b. 1707), the notary public of Chaumont. He trained as a surgeon in Turin, joined the French army of the North in 1794, and after being assigned to a hospital in Brussels, settled there in 1797, where he later helped to re-establish the Medical School after the Napoleanic Wars. His daughter Cécile married Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874), a famous scientist, permanent secretary of the Belgian Royal Academy, founder of the Brussels Observatory and the meteorological service, and a key figure in the development of the science of statistics. Martine is the great-great-great granddaughter of Quetelet. There were still Curtets living in Chaumont in World War I, as a Felix Curtet is listed on the war memorial (d.1917).
The municipality has recently named the street between the Mairie (city hall) and the church "Rue François-Antoine CURTET" in honour of my wife's ancestor, born in the village in 1763. A portrait of Curtet hung in my mother-in-law's home, and I gave a reproduction to the Mairie.Mairie (city hall) . .
Of the first church in Chaumont built by Agnès of Chalon in 1308, only the Gothic choir and the door to the bell tower remain.Gothic door to bell tower
The village is nestled in a dip in the mountain behind the castle, between it and La Vuache mountain to the north, which is an extension of the Jura mountains, cut off from them by the Rhone River. The castle covered all of a high rocky outcrop, with only one steep trail up. Of the ruins of the castle of Chaumont, only the foundations and part of the keep remain standing, but its dominant position is impressive. Most of the stones were carried off to construct buildings elsewhere.. .
The view from the Chaumont castle ruins shows what a dominant position it had.. .
Looking south from Chaumont over the valley of the Usses River, my chalet is in the middle of the forested area beyond the river, and Frangy is to the right. The Saint-Jean Chapel is to the bottom left.
Below Chaumont is the little Saint-Jean chapel used by the inhabitants of Chaumont since 1198. It was burned by the Bernese in 1590 when they invaded the region and established Protestantism, was reconstructed, and last restored in 1826.Saint-Jean chapel
The road from Geneva to the chalet through the Genevois region passes through the villages of St.Jean-en-Genevois, Viry, Mont-Sion, Jonzier-Epagny, Le Malpas (part of Chaumont) and Frangy. It is about 40 km, mostly through rolling countryside with green fields and hills, passing along the lower slopes of La Vuache (a mountain extension of the Jura Mountains), crossing a pass at Le Malpas below Chaumont between La Vuache and Le Mont, and descending into the Valley of Les Usses to Frangy. In some places the view extends to the Alps and Mont-Blanc, and returning to Geneva there are lovely views of the whole Geneva basin.