Allaman, perched above the ancient lake road between Geneva and Lausanne, had a strategic position that guaranteed its local importance. First as a tax-collecting toll booth, later as a mall.
You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
To anyone driving along the lake road today, this is what they'll take away from having seen Allaman, the well-known Château d'Allaman, but in fact there's more to see here. Not a lot more, but more than this.
Presently a very small village of 400 souls, called the Allamanais, it's a charming centre clustered around, not one, but two castles. The Château d'Allaman we've just seen, off to our right, but in front of us is . . .
. . . the Château Rochefort. Medieval Allaman in fact was co-owned, by the lords of Allaman in their own castle, and the lords of Aubonne just up the hill, who'd built a strong point here to safely supervise the labors of their folks on the fields and vineyards here on this side of the village. It was sold off in the 15th century to the lords of Rochefort in the Savoie region, and hence its name.
The stronghold with its manor house was donated to a Lausanne charity in 1838 (hence the red-and-white chevrons of Lausanne on the shutters), then passed through private families and is presently the home of the Château Rochefort wines.
This is sort of the town centre, the Place de l'Eglise -- the gate of the Château Rochefort on the left, the road up to the other castle's gate and the "upper town", and the church on a little island in the centre.
We're not walking today to the "upper town" -- it consists entirely of the railway station, the autoroute or main highway, and between them, an enormous run of big-box malls and "centres commerciales", starting with IKEA at the autoroute exit, subsequently joined by Outlet Aubonne and Nike Factory Store, a Centre COOP, and then a "miracle mile" of more big boxes running a couple of kilometres eastward along the lake road.
The commune's administration
At the edge of town, the Route du Signal leading up to Féchy, where we were living when these photos were taken (25 January 2014).
Back along the Route du Signal. The village's name Allaman invokes the French word for Germans, but it comes from the Latin al Lemanus, 'on the shore of Lac Léman' (Lake Geneva).
Back to the church
Opération Vercingétorix: A collection of all guns and ammunition you'd like to get rid of safely.
The Grand Rue has snaked around and is heading north towards the Nike Factory Store.
At the meeting of the Grand Rue and the Petite Rue, there's the Allaman Castle in its spacious grounds.
Technically we're on the Route de la Gare now (same street, new name)
The Château d'Allaman was originally a great quadrangular fortress with four square towers, built in the 12th century by the barons of Vaud. By 1326 it was owned by the Rossillon lords of Allaman, but in 1530 the Bernese army, en route to relieve Geneva from a threat by the Savoyards, paused long enough to burn much of it down.
The Route de la Gare and farm buildings of the domain of the château
Private owners gave up the property in 1976, and it was taken over by some local banks and societies and leased to twenty antique shops. A friend of Kristin's was operating out of those rooms (centre) in the castle's barn, but sadly that all went bust in 2005.
The castle and its properties were bought by a private developer in 2005, and were thoroughly renovated and opened as eight luxury condos in 2009.
I don't know where the antiques dealers went from here.
We're turning back now -- the gare looks like any other railway station, and the IKEA like every other IKEA.
The château from the Petite Rue
The 13th century Savoyard Château d'Allaman, host over the years to Joseph Bonaparte, Empress Joséphine, the Count Camille Cavour, Voltaire, Franz Liszt, George Sand, the first International Peace Summit (1830), and latterly a consortium of antique dealers who had to move out before the renovations -- once recently renovated, apparently time-share apartments nowadays.
La Petite Rue
Back down the Grand Rue to the Route du Lac, or 'Route Suisse'. That restaurant, the Chasseur, is spoken highly of but out of our price range. But this isn't all of Allaman -- by no means. It's surrounded by cereal and vineyard cultivation and by the Aubonne river coming off the Jura mountains to the lake.