Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Scenes of Ollon, Switzerland


Ollon, Switzerland. Some years ago, Professor Durham acquired title to an old house of faded elegance in a lovely Swiss village, and in autumn 2013 the rentable flat on her rez-de-chaussée came free, so she invited us along. In the protracted middle of our February déménagement, with crates and boxes still piled high in the main room, we've got to get out and see the sights.

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.

Ollon Walkabout, 7 March 2014

We're off, out the front door: a partially pink vista, the dead-end Rue de Margeiron, and a cat

The Rue du Carroz in the neighborhood of Carroz ("Carroz" = neighborhood)

The place just above us. The domain of Ollon seems first to have been mentioned in AD 516 (as 'Aulonum') when the new Burgundian king Sigismund ceded it to the nearby Abbey of St-Maurice. That document exists only in a later copy, however, but 'Aulonum' and 'Olonum' are certainly attested from the early 11th century.

The bell tower. Nuclear Ollon has the old town -- here -- and the modern residential development spreading out like an alluvial fan down the hill. But in fact the Commune of Ollon includes the territory from the Rhône river at 395m altitude to the top of La Chamoissaire mountain at 2112m -- enormous, almost 60 square kilometres, the third largest jurisdiction in the Canton of Vaud, also including, in addition to the well-known ski resort of Villars-sur-Ollon up the hill, 23 small villages and hamlets.

St-Triphon, also part of Ollon, comprises three little hills adjacent to the Rhône that must have stood above the once-swampy floodplain from earliest times. Neolithic through to Roman artefacts and industrial remains have been found there, and the square tower atop the hill on the right dates from anywhere from the 10th to the 13th century.

The fountain, dated 1819. Most of the older buildings in town seem to date from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when stone and concrete buildings were widely replacing wooden ones. Often after a really bad fire. Our house is dated 1788.

Industry Street, Rue de l'Industrie, straight uphill. According to Henry Suter, the town's name derives from the Gallic word for apples and apple trees.

Very cute

Street scene

The Auberge [and Pizzeria] de l'Union -- this is going to be a regular for us.

We continue up Industry Street

More street scenes

Courtyard scenes

The Chemin de Bornel-Dessous

The Chemin de Trécord, looking up to the vineyards looming over us

We started from home at about 475m and now we're at 515m. That pinkish house is at 540m, but we're starting back down now.

The Chemin de Bornel-Dessus, leading to . . .

Grape Street

The village Protestant church belltower, and the Pointe de Bellevue on the far side of the Rhône

Looking south

Mind your head.

A little grange or something on the Rue Demesse

Back to the main street, the main road from Aigle up to Villars

To the right of the belltower is the Hôtel de Ville restaurant and hotel. The orange building is a café-bar and convenience store. The pharmacy is on the left.

Now we're looking for the famous Château de la Roche à Ollon.

That's not the Château de la Roche.

That's more like it. First fortified in the centre of Ollon in the early 13th century, when ownership of the village was being passed around amongst the Abbey of St-Maurice, the Counts of Savoie, and the Bishop of Sion, the house was the base of the Rovéréaz family from the 1340s to the late 16th century, when the town acquired official "commune" status. The castle's apparently been undergoing incremental renovations since 2003, and regularly hosts cultural events and expositions. See http://chateau-ollon.ch/.

Back out of the Rue du Château, and now leftward down the hill

The Chemin de la Roche

Street scene

The Dents du Midi across the Rhône valley

Back along the Chemin de la Roche

And back to the central square

The central square

The church

The Hôtel de Ville auberge

The church, the Église Saint-Victor d'Ollon, first mentioned in 1179, was a medieval dependency of the famous Abbey of St-Maurice, which is not far away. The earliest parts of the existing structure date from 1480 or so, augmented by the Rovéréaz family in the 15th and 16th centuries. It went Reformation in 1528.

Beautiful nave

St-Victor was supposedly one of the "Theban Legion" -- the Roman garrison of Thebes in Egypt which was transferred to Agaunum (now the nearby town of Saint-Maurice) in the late 3rd century by the Roman emperor Maximian to help sort out the Burgundian rebels.

The Christianized legionnaires, when ordered by the commanders here to participate in the Roman state religious services, refused, and the authorities ordered them "decimated" until they agreed. 10% were executed, but the order was still refused; another 10%, and another, until all 6,000 soldiers had been martyred. Their leader was, of course, Mauritius, St-Maurice. (top: Christ and the apostles, from the late 15th century)

The martyrs' bones were discovered, it is said, in the late 4th century, a basilica was built to house them, and in 515 the soon-to-be Burgundian king Sigismund founded an abbey that later became one of the innovative leaders in the burgeoning pilgrimage industry. Even early on, the monks of St-Maurice d'Agaune invented the popular system of laus perennis, or 'perpetual chant', whereby squads of monks could work non-stop in shifts, 24/7, forever, to chant liturgical chants for your soul if you'd been charitable enough to pay for the service in advance.

The Roman legionnaires' bones, or some of them, can still be seen in St-Maurice, along with the abbey's fabulous "treasures". St-Victor's bones are not here in Ollon, however (the city of Solothurn may have them).

The church and belltower

Of the bells, which ring out the quarter hours joyously 100 metres from our bedroom: the first of them was made in 1413, and the largest one in 1639.

Professor Durham's house is dead centre, beyond the sort-of-hedge

There, with the sundial on the wall.

Behind the apse, with an ornamental St-Victor and mountain view

City hall, next to the church: the Place du Cotterd ('built on a hillside', called Coster de Oulum in 1211)

The Rue de Margeiron facing our front door

Our front door

Ditto

We'll never get Dieter the VW squeezed into that thing

Ahh, good.

Prof Durham's patio upstairs, ours (with the moving company's crates) downstairs

The rock band's practice room is through that basement door.

You, too, can move to beautiful Ollon.

Ollon views
Lisa's new house in Ollon, 2006
Christmas in Ollon, 2006
PhD party in Ollon, June 2007
Christmas in Ollon, 2007
Christmas in Ollon, 2008
Christmas in Ollon, 2010
Pre-move scoping mission, Feb. 2014
Scenes of Ollon village, March 2014
More scenes of Ollon, April 2014
Snow day in Ollon, January 2016
Random snapshots from Ollon, 2016-2017

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Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 30 March 2014.


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