L'historique du Lac de Devesset

History

Lake Devesset is a man made reservoir created by the construction of an earthen dam that is 200 meters long and 20 meters high built across the Eyrieux River valley.

The lake and pioulhouse farm

Ferme de Pioulhouse - Vue sud

The construction of the dam was completed in 1974 and the rainfall during the winter 1974-1975, combined with the surface run-off from the 295 hectares of meadows, bogs and forests were enough to fill it.

  • Water Area: 51 hectares
  • Capacity : about 2.3 million cubic meters
  • PMaximum depth: ranging between 16.5 meters in 1975 and 10.5 meters in 2011
  • Altitude: 1074 meters
  • Owner: Ardèche Departmental Management Union

Before the construction of the dam, the space that is now under water was a mixture of bog and grazing meadows used by the inhabitants of Pioulhouse Farm. The Pioulhouse Farm barn was just a ruin in 1974 and was completely and sympathetically renovated in 1980/81 with a respect for local architectural traditions including the use of imposing stone walls, a wooden frame resembling the inverted hull of a ship and a slate covered roof.

Second World War (1939-1945) :

The Vivarais-Lignon plateau is known for being a center of resistance and sheltered refugees from the Second World War. Indeed local legend has it that the 5,000 inhabitants of the plateau each saved the life of a Jewish refugee. In reality only 800 Jews were officially registered on the Plateau at the time. Many Jewish children were welcomed on the Plateau by local families and some of these were then accompanied on their journey to Switzerland by local resistance networks.

Located in the heart of the Plateau, the basin formed by the valley of the Eyrieux River was an out of the way spot hidden from open view that hid a raft of Resistance activity. This covert work was controlled from Rousset Farm located to the north of the lake. The farm served as the command post and its inhabitants were also responsible for the installation of landing lights for the pilots of Allied aircraft. In response, the German army installed a machine gun 200m to the east of the existing dam, the concrete base of which remains, now surrounded by forest and hiking trails.

On 5 September 1988, the inhabitants of Chambon-sur-Lignon and its neighbouring communities (Devesset, Fay-sur-Lignon, Le Mazet-Saint-Voy, St. Agrève and Tence) collectively received the designation of Righteous Gentiles by Yad Vashem, the World Center for Holocaust Research, on behalf of the Jewish people. This collective designation is unique in France, and is in addition to the 67 local inhabitants that were designated individually.

Plus d’informations :

You can find out more at the Memorial Building in Chambon-sur- Lignon - a unique place dedicated to the history of the resistance during World War II.

The vivarais-lignon plateau - a place of welcome

This remote difficult to reach spot situated so far from the big cities is characterised as much by its harsh winters as by the gentleness of its inhabitants. These mountain people, for whom helpfulness and humility are as natural as their instinct for survival, have always made visitors welcome. Whatever the social, military or historical crisis the Plateau has always been a haven for persecuted minorities.