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Étrembières (Municipality, Haute-Savoie, France)

Last modified: 2012-04-21 by ivan sache
Keywords: haute-savoie | etrembieres |
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[Flag of Etrembieres]

Flag of Étrembières - Image by Ivan Sache, 23 August 2003

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Presentation of Étrembières

The municipality of Étrembières (1,857 inhabitants in 2009; 5543 ha) is located on the left bank of the river Arve, only 7 km from Geneva (Switzerland). The municipality is made of the village of Étrembières proper and of the hamlet of Pas-de-l'Échelle, built on the first slopes of Mount Salève.

Mount Salève (highest point, le Grand Piton, 1875 m) stretches over 20 kms between Étrembières and Cruseilles. This so-called 'Genevan mountain' attracted tourists and naturalists as soon as in the 18th century. Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, who climbed on the Mont-Blanc in 1786, had his first rock-climbing experience on the Salève. In the 19th century, the Salève was visited by Alphonse de Lamartine, John Ruskin, Richard Wagner and Guiseppe Verdi, who married in Collonges-sous-Salève in 1859.
In 1854, the Swiss Alpine Club designed the Grande-Gorge hiking trail between Collonges and the top of the Salève. There are now more than 50 hiking trails crossing the Salève. In 1875, a few rock-climbers gathered in a narrow gorge of the mountain called Varappe. Those people were nicknamed varappeux. Around 1925, the word varappe was coined to design rock-climbing and is now commonly used in French.
Since the Salève attracted more and more tourists, a rack railway was built in 1892. The line was Y-shaped, with two branches starting from Étrembières and Veyrier, respectively, joining in the village of Monnetier, and reaching the crest of the mountain at the place named les Treize-Arbres (1,142 m). The railway was the first in Europe to use a third rail as the power supply. To produce the required electricity, a barrage was built on the river Arve near Arthaz. Electricity was brought to the station of Monnetier-Mairie by an overhead cable. Each train was made of 12 cars of 36 seats each, divided into one first class compartment and two second class compartments. The trip lasted one hour at a speed of 5.4 - 10.8 km per h, offering a wonderful panoramic view over Geneva, Lake Léman and the massif of Mont-Blanc.
In 1925, a 33-km road was built between Étrembières and Cruseilles. In the 1930s, the railway was considered obsolete and too expensive, and a cableway was built between Pas-de-l'Échelle and the top of Salève. The cableway was renovated in 1984, whereas the railway was suppressed after the Second World War.

Magdalenian remains, a Celtic dolmen (destroyed in 1836), a Roman milliary column and a Germanic belt buckle are evidence of early populations in Étrembières. The name of the village might have been derived from ès Tremblières, a place were aspens (trembles) grew.
The knights of Étrembières, vassals of the Count of Geneva, lived in the castle of Étrembières, also called the castle of Rozey, mentioned for the first time in 1206. The castle was later bequeathed to the Annecy Hospital, which still owns it. The bridge over the Arve, probably older than the castle, was mentioned for the first time in 1304; it links Étrembières to the bigger border town of Annemasse.

In 1536, the Duke of Savoy Charles III allied with the German emperor Charles V. Upset by the alliance, King of France François I invaded Savoy. Charles lost all of his states, which were shared between France, Valais and Bern. Étrembières was incorporated to the Bailiwick of Gaillard, allocated to the Republic of Bern.
In 1559, Duke Emmanuel-Philibert was nominally given back his states by the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis. Étrembières and the Bailiwick of Gaillard were formally reincorporated to Savoy in 1567.
In the very beginning of the 18th century, Duke Charles-Emmanuel I attempted to restore the Roman Catholic religion all over Savoy and to reincorporate Geneva to Savoy. The duke also challenged King of France Henri IV, who invaded Savoy in 1600. The Duke had to "swap" the lands located west of the river Rhône (Pays de Gex, Bresse, Valromey and Bugey, which were never reincorporated to Savoy) against the tiny Marquisate of Saluces. After his defeat, Charles-Emmanuel decided to attack an apparently much less dangerous game, the Republic of Geneva. During the night of the 11 to 12 December 1602, hundreds of soldiers gathered in Étrembières, crossed the bridge over the Arve and put up scales, specifically manufactured for that purpose, against the walls of Geneva. Warned of the assault, the defenders of the town had designed tools to cut the scales in small pieces. One of the surviving leaders of the expedition could come back to the castle of Étrembières to relate the fiasco to Charles-Emmanuel. Historians do not agree on the word used by the duke to qualify the attempt (cagade or coglionade). The event, known as L'Escalade (The Scaling) or La Miraculeuse Délivrance (The Miraculous Deliverance) is celebrated each year in Geneva by a popular festival.
The disaster of l'Escalade sounded the knell of the international ambitions of the Duchy of Savoy, which recognized in 1603, the independence of Geneva by the Treaty of Saint-Julien.

Étrembières, incorporated to the French Republic along with the rest of Savoy in 1792, was allocated to the Department of Léman, whose capital was Geneva. In 1816, the Préfet of the department merged the neighbouring municipalities of Étrembières and Veyrier into a single one.
In 1816, the Treaty of Turin created the Canton of Geneva, incorporating 24 towns and villages. Veyrier was (and still is) one of them, whereas Étrembières was incorporated to Sardinia. Étrembières was reallocated to France with the rest of Savoy in 1860.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 23 August 2003

Flag of Étrembières

The flag of Étrembières, as hoisted on the bridge over the Arve, is vertically divided green-yellow.
The flag is based on the municipal coat of arms of Étrembières, "Per pale, 1. Vert a tower argent roofed sable, 2. Or a ladder vert, in base sable three fesses wavy or vert and argent."

The dexter part of the arms represents the village of Étrembières by the castle of Étrembières, while their sinister part represents the village of Pas-de-l'Échelle (in French, échelle means "a ladder").
Green and yellow are the traditional colours of Étrembières, share with the Swiss municipality of Veyrier, which constituted for a while a single municipality with Étrembières. Green symbolizes the fields and the meadows, whereas yellow symbolizes wheat and sun.

Ivan Sache, 23 August 2003