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Le barrage de Tignes

a brief history of the tignes dam


A renowned symbol of Tignes, the dam marked a turning point in the lives of the Tignards.

The historic village of Tignes, originally located in the valley, was submerged by water with the creation of the dam in 1952. Launched in the summer of 1947, the construction of the dam forced the Tignards to leave their village, a poignant moment for the families leaving behind their cherished homes.

But the Tignards were not easily defeated and rebuilt their new village higher up, in Tignes Les Boisses. To keep a link with their history, the old church was reproduced identically. The Saint Jacques de Tarentaise church visible today at the entrance of Tignes 1800 is a replica of the old church, and contains original pieces of furniture and altarpieces.

In 2002, the sculptor Livio Benedetti created La Dame du Lac, in homage of the old Tignes and a symbol of hope for the future. The sculpture is located by the lake near the village of Villaret du Nial, on the road to Val d'Isère.


The Chevril dam in numbers


The Chevril dam is a truly spectacular construction. Here are some dizzying figures to get your head around:

  • 180m high
  • 300m long
  • 43m wide
  • 6 years of construction: from 1946 to 1952
  • 230 million m3 of water resulting in a 3.2 km2 lake, the equivalent of 100,000 Olympic swimming pools!
  • Up to 5,600 workers in the summer of 1949
  • 600 step descent
  • 110m3/s: this is the water flow rate of a bottom valve! These 70-year-old valves are currently being replaced, which explains the presence of a crane on the dam.
  • Supplies the electrical consumption of 392,000 inhabitants annually, the equivalent of 80% of residential consumption in the Savoie region.

When the painter meets the architect


In the summer of 1989, Jean-Marie Pierret began creation of a huge 12,000 m² fresco on the vault of the dam representing Hercules. The giant of Tignes was born.

Not much of the 6 tons of paint used remains of this fleeting fresco.

However even today, the most discerning eyes will still be able to make out the features of the giant.

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