Do you have any memories of Champex Lac you would like to share with others?
Send us your memories of Champex >
Memories of Eric della Faille from 1950:
Champex rests in an unspoilt mountain area whose similarities with its larger cousin has given it the nickname of "Little Canada". If you had visited the resort in the middle of the 20th century you would have seen many hotels. I remember the hotel Biselx, Orny, Crettex and Lac all of which have disappeared over the years. Biselx was destroyed by fire and on its ashes was built the row of shops which now contain the Office of Tourism. Orny has been replaced by the apartment building "La Renaissance" next to the Catholic Chapel whereas Crettex and Lac were converted into apartments . There are now only five hotels remaining. In contrast there has been a boom in the number of chalets and apartments built. Fortunately, the lake prevents large scale urban development allowing Champex to remains a small family resort, a place reserved for true nature lovers who want to get away from the stresses of the modern world.
Memories of Champex Lac
By 1907, Champex a popular resort had nine hotels with in excess of 500 beds. Bathing changing huts for modesty were dotted around the lake. One such historic hut can still been seen today.
The Chapelle de la Nativité – was built in 1910 at the request of resort clients. In around 1930, the decision was made to build a Protestant chapel and in 1935, the Chapelle des Arolles was inaugurated. This was soon followed by the Catholic chapel dedicated to St Bernard de Menten being inaugurated in 1941.
With the onset of WWII the Freudenberg family a prominent German Jewish family escaped Germany and took refuge in the village. The family were also responsible for assisting many other Jewish families escape across the border from France. As a thank you to the village for provinding sanctuary, the family created 100 kilometres of mountain paths above the lake and balcony viewing points still used today.
Winter tourism developed during the 1950s with the building of La Breya chairlift in 1952 and Champex soon developed as a popular winter skiing resort.
Lake Champex itself is a wonderful example of a glacier lake. Formed during the ice-age when a glacier eroded the land, then melted, filling the hole or space that it has created.
Before tourism, Champex was a place where alpine farmers would keep their herds of cows and goats known as a 'mayen'.
It was thanks to French writer Emile Begin who visited the Saint Bernard region when researching for his pulication 'l'Histoire de Napoléon', that Champex was first put on the tourism map. Begin had become rather fond of Champex and later publish a book 'Travels Picturesque to Switzerland' in which he wrote a section on Champex.
Gradually Champex was visited by more and more walkers and alpinists. These first tourists didn't stay around the lake but in Champex d'en Haut. The wooden cattlesheds the 'mayen' becoming humble inns offering basic accomodation above the cows. In1892 the first hotel by the lake was built named the Hôtel de la Poste; where aparently guest could refresh themselves by bathing in milk.
But it was not until 1906 that tourism really arrived when the Simplon railway line was opened and tourists could be brought up from Martigny station by horse drawn carriage.
Champex emerged as a thriving summer desitination and a popular stop on the 'Grand Tour' of Europe. As well as taking the alpine air visitors were entertained by a wide variety of activities, such as the beach, swimming, boating, excursions, tennis and trout fishing.
The resort attracted author and artist George Jackson Flemwell (English, 1865–1928) who came to study the flora and fauna, painting wild alpine flowers and scenery such and the Lake and Val'Arpette