Roman church of Saint Pierre d’Extravache

View from the South West of Saint Pierre d’Extravache Roman church.

The Valley of Ambin, in Savoie, at the border between France and Italy is today fairly remote and off the beaten path. However, from antiquity through the middle age and up to the industrial revolution, most alpine valleys were well populated. Ambin, being the access to the “Petit Mont Cenis” pass was on one of the main path to cross the Alps, connecting France and the cities of what is now Italy. Therefore history is amazingly rich for such a secluded mid-mountain range. In particular, the Ambin valley is one of the proposed pass for Carthaginian general Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps in the summer of 218 BC, before attacking the Roman Empire. During the tenth century, a church was erected in the valley, in a place called “le Planey”, the toponym referring to a flat area in the otherwise very steep valley. It is one of the earliest churches erected in Savoie, and the oldest remaining church of the area. The scenery is very spectacular, with the “Dent Parrachée”, a 3687 m peak, visible in the background. The forlorn church, made of local stones and covered with lauzes, standing in the middle of the wilderness and surrounded by a majestic landscape of alpine peaks, has a poignant appeal. Knowing it has stood there for over a thousand year certainly invites to some form of contemplation.

View from the South East, Maurienne valley with Sardieres in the back.
Another perspective on the church.
What remains of the 17th century fresco: Christ in Majesty above the apostles