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Orsières coat of arms
State : SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland
Canton : Canton of ValaisCanton of Valais Valais (VS)
District : Entremont
BFS no. : 6034i1 f3 f4
Postal code : 1937 Orsières
1938 Champex-Lac
Coordinates : 577 262  /  97649 coordinates: 46 ° 1 '48 "  N , 7 ° 8' 42"  O ; CH1903:  577 262  /  97649
Height : 887  m above sea level M.
Height range : 773–3893 m above sea level M.
Area : 164.93  km²
Residents: 3187 (December 31, 2018)
Population density : 19 inhabitants per km²
Website: www.orsieres.ch


Location of the municipality
Lac de Salanfe Lac d’Emosson Lac Supérieur de Fully Lac des Vaux Lac de Cleuson Lac de Grand Désert Lac de Louvie Lac des Dix Lac de Mauvoisin Lac des Toules Lac de Champex Lago di Place Moulin Italien Frankreich Bezirk Conthey Bezirk Hérens Bezirk Martigny Bezirk Monthey Bezirk Saint-Maurice Bezirk Sitten Bagnes Liddes Bourg-Saint-Pierre Liddes Orsières Sembrancher VollègesMap of Orsières
About this picture

Orsières is a political municipality and a civil parish in the Entremont district in the French-speaking part of the Swiss canton of Valais . The municipalities include the villages Branche, Chamoille, Champex-Lac , Chez-les-Addy-Maligue, Chez-les-Giroud, Chez-les-Reuses, Commeire, Issert, La Douay, La Fouly , La Rosière, Le Biolley, Les Arlaches, Orsières, Prassurny, Prayon, Praz-de-Fort, Reppaz, Somlaproz, Soulalex and Verlonnaz .


The sixth largest municipality in the canton of Valais in terms of area extends over 165 km² and includes the two valleys Val Ferret and Vallée de Champex. The market town is located on the Dranse d'Entremont on the upper reaches of the Dranse , which flows into the Rhone at Martigny .

Orsières is located in the southwest of the canton of Valais and borders on seven neighboring municipalities and two countries: in the north with Sembrancher and Bovernier , in the south with Liddes and Italy, in the east with Bagnes , Liddes and Bourg-Saint-Pierre and in the west with Martigny-Combe , Trento and France. In the southwest of the municipality is the Mont Dolent , where at 3820  m above sea level. M. the triangle between France, Italy and Switzerland is located.

In addition to glaciers and rocks, the municipality has 3500 hectares of forest area, which makes the community of Orsières the largest forest owner in Switzerland.

Two Alpine valleys branch out in Orsières: the pass road leads through the Val d'Entremont over the Grosser St. Bernhard into the Italian Aosta Valley and the Val Ferret west of it to the foothills of the Mont Blanc group .


Orsières was first mentioned as Pons Ursarii in 972 when a group of Saracens captured the abbot of Cluny, Maiolus , near the Dransebrücke . In 1052 the Bishop of Sitten Aymon transferred the village and serfs inherited from his uncle Count Ulrich to the cathedral chapter . From the 12th century it became dependent on the Counts of Savoy . Since the 13th century the community has regulated its own affairs at a court assembly. From 1352 onwards, a mayor under the rule of a mistral ran the community's affairs. The place received its first letter of freedom in 1376 from Amadeus VI. of Savoy . It was probably divided into the districts of Tiers de Ville, Tiers d'Issert and Tiers des Côtes as early as the Middle Ages.

From the Middle Ages until 1798, Orsières belonged to the Kastlanei Sembrancher, which became part of the Saint-Maurice bailiff after the victory of the Upper Valais over Savoy in 1475. During the Italian campaign , Napoleon marched through Orsières from May 17 to 20, 1800, to reach Italy via the Great Saint Bernard. Under the French rule (1810-1813), the municipality belonged within the Simplon department to the canton of Entremont in the Saint-Maurice district .

During the Second World War , the Great Saint Bernard area was fortified by the Swiss Army. At that time, the Champex and Commeire artillery works were established .


Population development
year 1339 1356 1402 1798 1850 1900 1950 2000 2010 2012 2014 2016
Residents 402 269 122 1784 2305 2215 2286 2630 3077 3078 3178 3220

The population developed slowly with several setbacks in the Middle Ages: 1313 (304 taxpayers), 1339 (402), 1356 (259), 1402 (122). A steady growth did not begin until the 18th century: 1798 (1784 inhabitants), 1850 (2305), 1900 (2215), 1950 (2286) and 2000 (2630).

Economy and tourism

The inhabitants traditionally worked in agriculture and grew grain (rye), as the many granaries and mills attest. In addition, there was cattle breeding (1850: 7189 head of large cattle) and own vineyards in Fully and Martigny .

In 1853 a cooperative was established to transport goods and tourists across the Great St. Bernard. In 1893 the pass road was expanded; In 1910, the Chemins de fer Martigny – Orsières line began operating from Martigny. Champex was the first tourist resort in the valley around 1850. In the 21st century, the three tourist zones Orsières, Champex-Lac and Val Ferret with the ski resorts of Champex and La Fouly developed in the large Alpine community . There are hiking trails and mountain bike trails in the municipality. The Tour du Mont-Blanc circular alpine trail leads through the hamlet of La Fouly .




  • Gaetan Cassina: Témoignages sur la construction de la cure d'Orsières (1779-1787) . 1979
  • René Berthod: Orsières, ma commune . 1983
  • Pierre Dubuis: Une économie alpine à la fin du Moyen Age: Orsières, l'Entremont et les régions voisines, 1250-1500 . 2 volumes, 1990
  • Stéphane Michellod: Sur les trace de ...: La Société des guides et porteurs d'Orsières. 150 ans d'histoire. 1853-2003 . Editions à la Carte, 1999, ISBN 978-2-88464-105-0 .
  • Albano Hugon: Orsières. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . 2010 .

Web links

Commons : Orsières  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Permanent and non-permanent resident population by year, canton, district, municipality, population type and gender (permanent resident population). In: bfs. admin.ch . Federal Statistical Office (FSO), August 31, 2019, accessed on December 22, 2019 .
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