Gateway Pays des Ecrins, L'Argentière-la-Bessée is located 1000 meters above sea level. The confluence of the Gyronde, the torrent Fournel and the Durance, it allows access to neighboring valleys Freissinières, Vallouise which rises to 4102 meters at the Barre des Ecrins, and Fournel. L'Argentière-la-Bessée named after the silver mines that were exploited from the 10th century. Abandoned in the early 20th century, the site is the subject of archaeological excavations since 1990, updating many vestiges currently valued and to visit the underground galleries.
The mine site and the Castle of St. John (XVIII-XIX) allowing the mining museum, are both listed as historic monuments. They house a research center under the label of scientific, technical and industrial.
The religious heritage is composed of a multitude of buildings whose major component is the church of Saint-Apollinaire 15th century listed building, with its murals and its lock-headed chimera.
Old industrial city, L'Argentière-la-Bessée is the symbol of a successful conversion. In recent years it has set up a circuit of industrial heritage visited by many people witnessed a willingness to showcase its rich history by turning to tourism.
Taking advantage of its location, it is the world capital in January practitioners ice climbing. Once the snow melts, the city becomes a haven for outdoor sports (climbing, climbing, kayaking, canyoning, mountain biking, hiking), and water sports with its slalom on the Durance. In 2011, it hosted the world championships in kayaking.
In addition, in the valley has L'Argentière-la-Bessée Fournel of a single (subject to Deslioures and scope of blue thistles called queens of the Alps, the largest in Europe) of high biological diversity that can be discovered through the establishment of a preservation policy (Natura 2000) and animated in collaboration with the Ecrins National Park and National Forest Office.
With a municipal cultural department and a very active network of associations, the town also offers year-round quality animations like the Book Festival and Heritage in Dauphiné early August.
Museum of the silver mines:
At the foot of the cliffs Fournel open galleries. Over the centuries, miners dug near 20 km network. A secure underground path of 800 meters on two floors of galleries sometimes millennia, carved fire in the Middle Ages and the powder during more recent periods allows an understanding of the organization of work: excavation, gallery 'ventilation, drainage gallery.
Archaeologists have unearthed the remains unique in France: pumping system, water wheels, winches in the 19th century that allowed operation of the vein up to 80 meters below the river bed.
Reservations required to visit the mines: Contact: Tel. : +33 4 92 23 02 94 - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tour not recommended for people in poor health and children under 6 years. Shoes and appropriate clothing recommended. Groups limited to 18 people underground, length of visit: 2 hours. Temperature 12 ° C. The appointment to visit the mines is fixed to the mining museum, Chateau Saint Jean. Free shuttle buses are being introduced this summer. Outside these times, access is by private vehicle. Attention coaches can not access the Fournel Valley, please contact the museum at +33 4 92 23 02 94 for access arrangements.
Guided tours of the Industrial Heritage:
The only industrial town in the Hautes-Alpes invites you to discover its treasures past and present through the testimony in the built heritage, movable objects, views, etc..
Valuing the memory of a very recent industrial past is the goal of discovery trail in place in and around the downtown L'Argentière-la-Bessée.
The building blocks are really impressive, like the aluminum bar four feet high, symbolizing 80 years of local industry of aluminum electrolysis, the jitney whose installation in the forecourt of the station n is no coincidence, because this cousin of the locomotive is a child of the railroad, without which no industrial activity could not have existed. Other witnesses of the industrial past throughout the city: three compressors (those of the coal mines of Briançon and the slate quarries of the Castle of St. Jean Salce), a ladle and four anodes, etc..
The Chapel of St. John: a historical monument, the remains of a Preceptory of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, it was built on a rocky promontory along the old road "via per ALPEMA". A staircase cut into the rock passes under the apse of the church and testifies to the existence of an earlier building, or Early Christian or pagan. Since 1999, several archaeological excavations have uncovered graves anthropomorphic rock type (C14 dating from the 11th century), level ground at the base of the promontory, and confirmed the outlet of the stairs in the sanctuary at the inside the building. The dismantling of the altar led to the discovery of fragments of stone carvings of early Christian origin. Floors calade finely crafted was also found under the floor of the nave. This chapel, the last remnant high alpine of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, played a fundamental role in the history of the Argentiérois.
The Church of St. Apollinaris, bishop will ... Saint-Apollinaire is one of the churches built in the 15th century in a period of struggle against the Waldenses. In its architectural style - as most of the churches built between the 15th and 16th century in the diocese of Embrun - it takes the main principles of the cathedral of Embrun built in the 12th century. Saint-Apollinaire gives the visitor the feeling of being in relation to a work romance then it is a monument much later. Argentière was a step on the road to Compostela. In contact with the monument, one can not remain indifferent to these marks by people and by history. When the sun allows, you can still guess the polychrome sculptures on the porch. The door walnut and larch in the region is reinforced hinges and wrought iron nails. Lock "headed chimera" date of 1559. This set was restored in 2006 by the municipality. Of outdoor murals are on the southern wall of the apse. They consist of three levels: the virtues, vices and punishments. At the end of the fight against the Waldenses, the Catholic Church - through his preaching - and rigorous moralist wants. Messages left by the builders of St. Apollinaire are obviously in the same direction.
The path-finding architectural and agricultural heritage. "Man, the plant and the traditional home" this theme is developed in two main areas: "plants and popular beliefs", "plants and agricultural traditions." The purpose of this circuit is to discover the rural hamlets of Argentière using native plants in their natural environment as a link between man and traditional housing. It is also to discover or rediscover the rural tradition very much in Argentière before the arrival of the industry.
Book Festival in early August, with events (conferences, films, author signings, shows ...). Through its programming, the Festival of the Book of Argentière wants to help meet the public with the literary world, but also at the meeting amateur writers with the professional.
Show Extraction, early August. Supported by the PACA region and the State (Regional Directorate of Research and Technology), in a dedicated area within the Festival of the Book, participants will be keen to show you the different facets of their activity: demos techniques for using materials, discovery of spaces dedicated to their preparation, conferences, site visits ...