Notice to all history and heritage enthusiasts ! We have excellent news to announce: after two years of work, the Rubins castle in Sallanches got a makeover! Became theAlps Observatory, this historic building, which reopened in 2021, now has a incredible immersive scenography of more than 500m² devoted to the great History of the Mountain.
Let's set off together to discover an environment that is both sublime and fragile over the innovative course of the Observatoire des Alpes., lifting the veil on themes as varied as:
- the fauna and the flora,
- or the history of the climate
Fasten your seat belts: in addition to revealing the new original activities who organized there, this article will also make you travel through mountainous regions around the world.
Presentation of the Alps Observatory
A brief history of the Château des Rubins in Sallanches
Built in the 1978th century, the Château des Rubins had several noble owners before being bought by the town of Sallanches in XNUMX.
Spared by the Revolution and by the devastating fire which ravaged a large part of the city in 1840, this jewel of the Haute-Savoie cultural heritage stands proudly.
Since its purchase by the municipality until the end of 2019, this former seigniorial building was managed by an association called the CNM, Mountain Nature Center, who transformed it into a space dedicated to the discovery of the natural heritage of the Mont Blanc massif.
For example, Rubins Castle thus became a emblematic place for the preservation of nature in the Pays du Mont-Blanc.
Then, from 2019 to 2021, the building underwent a interior and exterior renovation of scale. The extension has been completely redone and the offices have been refurbished.
The Château des Rubins also has a brand new tour. All his scenography has been completely redesigned and redesigned. This makeover has breathed new life into the exhibition.
This restoration notably contributed to highlighting the architectural unity of the building, by making it possible to preserve the existing elements of its built heritage – period entrance door, spiral staircase in black Magland stone….
It should be noted that following these modernization works, all the exhibition spaces are now accessible to people with reduced mobility.
The Château des Rubins, which houses the observatory of the Alps, was finally municipalized in 2020 to become a service in its own right for the city of Sallanches.
The Château des Rubins and its shock team
The management team of this interpretation center is made up of four people who take care of everything: reception, reservations, management of the shop, updating and dissemination of tourist information and even cultural mediation.
- Marie is dedicated to reception, reservations and the management of the shop.
- Loriane and Robin ensure the mediation and the animation of the castle.
- Arnaud Delerce takes care of management, administrative and accounting tasks. He also participates in mediation.
At the Château des Rubins, you will be in good hands!
We were impressed by the enthusiasm and passion that drives this small team. Starting from scratch to manage and animate this building steeped in history, they have made it an essential place in the Pays du Mont-Blanc.
Warmly welcomed, the team shared with you what has been put in place over the past year. Arnaud Delerce, the director of the castle, personally guided us through the Observatoire des Alpes, making us discover with his expert eye the new scenography of the Château des Rubins, unique in Europe.
Visit the Alps Observatory independently
Did you know that mountains have a fascinating history? For thousands of years they have been the scene of many events that have shaped our world. From the formation of the Alps to the conquest of Everest, passing through local legends and traditions, there is so much to discover!
If you are passionate about nature and the wonders it offers us, then this interpretation center is for you.
Presentation of the Observatoire des Alpes: a unique scenography in Europe
First of all, you have to know that there is no user manual for the Château des Rubins strictly speaking.
As the route of the exhibition has been designed in such a way as to be able to be apprehended through different levels of reading, the visits of this highly cultural place is made independently.
It can also be approached in different ways:
- an immersive “mindfulness” visit in the mountains, as a preparation or reconnaissance of the terrain
- a contemplative excursion through the peaks, for those who do not necessarily wish to hike for hours.
Regardless of your initial level of knowledge, you will be transported to another era thanks to theunique light and sound atmosphere, completely redesigned with expertise for your greatest pleasure.
The densest information is provided by audio or even video sequences, with striking visual impact. Other more anecdotal information is provided by small games placed everywhere.
There are even models to touch scattered throughout the visit, for people with visual impairments, young children...
In fact, all the modules of the Observatoire des Alpes are designed to stimulate the five senses whether through audio (with sounds of snow, falling seracs or rockslides…), sight, touch or smell… A 100% immersive experience Do not miss !
Level 3: Mountain Geology and Ice Giants
This space, where we begin the journey, is entirely devoted to relief formation and evolution of glaciers.
It consists of 3 rooms and an amphitheater covering geoscience topics as varied as geology, plate tectonics, mineralogy, geochronology...
Stones, crystals and natural minerals: here everything is at your fingertips. There are no barriers so that young and old children have the opportunity to touch the exhibits.
The information is intended for all family members, with a level of reading ranging from a simple touch (suitable for children), while making sure to keep denser indications for adults.
To end the visit to this floor in style, you can comfortably watch an immersive short film on the place of humans through the ages, all in a dedicated amphitheater
Level 4: Mountains, refuge of wildlife
The next level presents the natural mountain environments: the multitude of animal species and the wide variety of plant species that they are likely to shelter.
This floor then consists of 3 rooms dealing with the following themes:
- wildlife, and biodiversity in the mountains
- the forest, its flora and its ecosystem
- There is also a fun piece featuring a bird that is very present in the mountains of the world: the bearded vulture.
In the first room, the Observatoire des Alpes highlights the layering of wildlife in the mountains by carefully stylizing it.
While parents immerse themselves in the technical explanations of the exhibition, toddlers can discover tales of mountains from all over the world (from the Andes, Berber plateaus, etc.).
On this floor, you can also visit the room of the dead tree: it does not make you dream like that, either... It should however be noted that there are many things to discover about what happens in a tree dead.
To preserve a certain spirit of exploration, clues about the life of the forest are hidden everywhere, especially in small trapdoors containing sounds.
As you will have understood, nothing is revealed from the outset in the course of the Observatoire des Alpes to leave a part of mystery and discovery to visitors.
Another originality of the visit: as stuffed animals are no longer very popular these days, the scenographers of the Château des Rubins had an excellent idea to make taxidermy a little more eye-catching: an animal riddle!
An actor tells a story and visitors must draw the robot portrait of the creature by deduction.
Ultimately, at the Château des Rubins we have fun, we learn and above all we have a good time!
Level 5: The Man in the Mountains
On this floor of the castle, the exhibition offers an overview of the history of man in the mountains.
This level therefore consists of three rooms:
- one presenting how human societies manage water in the mountains: a precious resource
- another evoking the link that Man has had with the mountain environment since prehistoric times
- and of course a room dedicated to children, to teach them in a fun way to recognize the footprints of mountain animals.
The scenography of the Observatoire des Alpes is a paradise for children. Thanks to the galleries dedicated to them, they won't be bored for a second while their parents explore the museum.
Unsurprisingly, it is also on this floor of the exhibition that visitors have the opportunity to meet different actors from the mountain environment – foresters, geologists, shepherds, nature reserve guards… – through attractive video clips.
- Gérard Ducret – a person who revolutionized local agriculture by uniting many farmers
- Laetitia Diana, director of the Sallanches Tourist Office
- Stephanie Maureau – a renowned mountain guide
- Mimmo Salerno, former director of the Dynastar site in Sallanches.
Industry, agriculture, tourism, mountains and associations: everyone has a story to share.
These presentations by local personalities offer visitors an interesting perspective on life in the mountains. They go beyond mere decor by revealing that the mountains are above all living places for many people.
Level 6: The climate in all its states
The climate on our earth is constantly changing. The top floor, in line with current challenges, is mainly dedicated to environmental issues since it addresses the major climate-related issues.
During the visit, a reconstruction module particularly caught our attention. This is an ice core used to reconstruct ancient landscapes:
- of the Chamonix Valley
- of the Lake Geneva basin, under a huge ice cover
By analyzing the oxygen and ancient particles trapped in the underground ice, we can understand the natural phenomena of periods of glaciation, warming and cooling. This natural cycle has been occurring on our planet since the dawn of time.
By moving a marker along this carrot, it is possible to travel through the ages.
- We thus discover that the Chamonix valley was originally a huge glacial lake
- In the Middle Ages, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc then became a city due to a period of significant warming. The glaciers were also higher than today, which favored the installation of humans in the high altitude valleys.
- After the end of the Middle Ages until the XNUMXth century, the villages located at altitude had to be abandoned or be limited to the summer season, due to a new period of cooling called “Little Glacial Air” (corresponding roughly to the reign of the Sun King) causing the descent of the glaciers.
- In 1920, urbanization began to develop, notably attracting many English tourists to Chamonix.
- In the 1970s, the glaciers, including that of Les Bossons, began to rise, until they became almost as high as in the Middle Ages.
- Finally comes a sci-fi scenario in the year 2100, where the glaciers of the world capital ofmountaineering regain the same height as in the Middle Ages.
The very secret room
At the end of the visit, head to the “very secret room”, hidden in the depths of the castle, where stuffed animals are exhibited.
The Observatoire des Alpes: a multitude of original activities to discover
Throughout the year, young and old alike will find a very lively entertainment program at the Observatoire des Alpes, perfectly complementing the scenography.
This high cultural place is full of events, conferences, fun and interactive workshops, intended for an audience from all walks of life, which will not fail to captivate you.
With a course designed to meet the expectations of curious people of all ages and families, the Château des Rubins aims to offer more and more activities for toddlers in the future.
This unique interpretation center has a particularly diverse offer in spring and autumn, given that summer and winter are seasons that are already very rich in tourist offers in the Pays du Mont-Blanc and throughout the Chamonix valley.
The Château des Rubins, a must-see place in the off-season
As you will have understood, the Observatoire des Alpes is a must-see in the Pays du Mont-Blanc. Its architecture also makes it a key element of local heritage.
Although nature is at the center of its scenography, this interpretation center is not limited to geosciences and environmental education. It also offers information on various cultural topics such as cultural heritage.,ethnology and l'history.
By exploiting original themes such as Medieval or wool spinning during'original workshops, the Château des Rubins stands out brilliantly by occupying a niche of its own.
Ultimately, the Château des Rubins, a veritable observatory of the Alps, fully deserves its name.
A visit – alone, with friends or family – to this former stately home is ideal for days that are too cold for swimming and when mountain hikes are not yet possible.
Whatever your areas of interest or your expectations, we are convinced that visitors of all ages are able to fully appreciate the different aspects of visiting the Château des Rubins.
We hope that you will have a pleasant and instructive time in the company of the rubinoteam who is still available for any question or need for guidance.