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Thônes (Municipality, Haute-Savoie, France)

Last modified: 2012-04-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: haute-savoie | thones | barrier (yellow) |
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[Flag of Thones]

Flag of Thônes - Image by Ivan Sache, 1 July 2003

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Presentation of Thônes

The municipality of Thônes (5,832 inhabitants in 2008; 5,233 ha) is the capital of the Aravis massif. Theroad linking the valley of Thônes to Geneva through the Dingy defile was built by the Roman lord Tincius, as evidenced by the sentence Lucius Tincius Paculus per vium fecit, engraved in a rock.

Thônes was mentioned for the first time in 1066, as a village with a church, fairs and craftsmen. In 1350, Count of Geneva Amadeus III granted the citizens of Thônes a municipal chart. In 1453, the downtown of the town, then made of wood, was totally burnt and rebuilt with characteristic arcades.
In October 1792, the inhabitants of Thônes gathered in the church and massively approved the incorporation of Savoy and Thônes to France, provided their municipal rights would be respected. The insurrection known as the "Thônes War" broke out on 4-9 May 1793, when the insurgents attempted to stop the Republican troops near Morette, to no avail. During the violent repression of the uprising, the local heroin Marguerite Frichelet was executed on the Champs-de-Mars in Annecy.
In 1815, Thônes and Savoy were retroceded to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. In 1860, Thônes massively approved the reincorporation to France.

The industrialisation of the valley started c. 1860. with the opening of small hatter and watch-making factories. The Manufactures Réunies de Thônes textile factory opened in 1909. In 1898, the steam tramway Annecy-Thônes was inaugurated, boosting the development of tourism in Thônes. The tourist office was created in 1906 and there were seven hotels in 1913, while the first bobsledge and ski competitions were organized in 1908.

Like the whole department of Haute-Savoie, Thônes was strongly involved in the anti-German resistance. In January 1944, the Vichy government (pro-German) proclaimed the state of siege in the department. Several members of the anti-German resistance rallied on the plateau des Glières, under the guidance of Lieutenant Tom Morel. The paramilitary groups and the Milice sent by Vichy were unable to seize the plateau. The Germans sent 15,000 soldiers from the 157th Alpine Division of the Wehrmacht, who, helped by the Luftwaffe, progressively invaded the plateau. Captain Anjot, who had succeded Morel, ordered the Resistance troops to withdraw. A small group of fighters, led by Lieutenants Bastien and Joubert, was attacked by the German artillery near Morette. Twenty-two out of the thirty members of the group were killed. The Germans ordered to bury them in a common grave, but Louis Haase, the Mayor of Thônes, refused to obey. The firemen and other inhabitants of Thônes buried the soldiers in the cemetary of Morette. Later victims of the German repression were also buried in Morette, as well as other fighters from the Glières who had been previously buried elsewhere.
On 5 November 1944, General de Gaulle, then Chief of the Provisory Government of the French Republic, visited Thônes and Morette. On 25 May 1947, President of the Republic Vincent Auriol officially inaugurated the National Cemetary of Morette, where 105 fighters are buried. The town of Thônes was awarded the War Cross and the Medal of the Resistance.

Source: Municipal website

Thônes is the capital of the reblochon cheese, invented in the 13th century. The first mention of the reblochon on a written document dates back to 1699. In the past, the farmers had to pay the owner of the land a fee (aucière) proportional to the amount of milk produced by the cows. To decrease the fee, the farmers intentionally diminished milking when paiement of the fee was due. The remaining milk was gathered later during a second, clandestine milking, locally called reblochi.
The development of roads and railway popularized the reblochon all over France. The genuine reblochon fermier de Savoie must be produced in the valley of Thônes or in Lanslebourg, in the valley of Maurienne.

Ivan Sache, 1 July 2003

Flag of Thônes

The flag of Thônes is red with a yellow barrier. The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, "Gules, a barrier or."

According to the municipal website, the arms symbolize the strategic location of the town between the valley of Nom and the upper and lower valleys of Fier. These arms might have formerly belonged to the Clefs family, ruler of Thônes until the grant of municipal rights. This would also make the arms canting, since clefs is nearly homophonic to claie, "a barrier".

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 1 July 2003