French history at the Plateau de Glières

Plateau de Glieres, Aravis valley in Haute Savoie, Rhone Alps, FrancePictured is the memorial set up for the local resistance fighters during World War 2 who lost their battle and their lives. A quick overview: the Plateau des Glières in the Aravis mountain range of France was the perfect location for the allies to drop a supply of ammunition and weapons for the resistance. However, the planes dropping supplies needed a full moon and good weather, so timing was limited. In February 1944, the first drop was planned, but the weather prevented most of the supplies from being dropped, and the locals had to wait for the next full moon a month later. By that time, the Nazis and French Vichy government supporters were moving in. The March drop was made, but the deep snow made it difficult for the French resistance fighters to get to their new supplies before they were killed.

Information boards are dotted around the Plateau des Glières to explain some of the horrors and joys in more detail. The original French chalet that was used as a hospital was burnt down by the Nazis, who also shot the sick and injured as they tried to escape. A single white cross in the middle of the cross-country ski circuit marks the spot where one of the injured French resistance fighters was shot as he escaped from the hospital.

Apart from the information boards, the Plateau des Glières shows few signs of such horrors. Nature trails take visitors through fields of cows, entrusting them to close the gates after them, and the views from the hills of the plateau are beautiful. A number of refuges are open for lunch and overnight stays, and with today’s calmness juxtaposing the calamity of 1944, I felt like staying for more than the day.

The memorial pictured was built in the 70s after a competition was held for the best design. This one shows the shoulders and head of a person, with one arm raised and the other cut off, hampered by opponents. Outside are two black statues of people curled up — a stark contrast to the white, straight edges in the background.

Getting to the plateau is possible from Annecy or a back road near Entrémont, just down the road from St Jean de Sixt. My recommendation would be to take the road from Annecy. The back road is narrow, steep and scary enough in summer without the snow to make it slippery.

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I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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One comment on “French history at the Plateau de Glières
  1. sally says:

    Yes, it’s a beautiful place.
    I drove up the back road – in a right hand drive car!!

About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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