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Europe, France, Tignes

Tignes. Even mountaineers who have never been in the Val d’Isère, who know it only through the affectionate accounts by frequenters of the region, must notice with regret the abandonment and inundation of Tignes. Not quite a mile down the valley from Tignes, a great dam has been constructed. The project, which was proposed first in 1941, was revived in 1946 and pushed to completion, despite protests, with the assistance of ECA funds. In March 1952 the escape valves were closed, and the river began backing up. The last resistance of the Tignards was widely reported.* One of them spoke memorably as he watched the removal, somewhat bungled, of the church bells: “They are our soul. They should have been the last to go.” For sympathetic outsiders, the late Michael Roberts had already spoken in the poem “Tignes, 1946,” reprinted in the Alpine Annual 1950: “All things must perish now under the level water.…"

*New York Times, 8, 18, 21, 25 March 1952; Time, 31 March 1952, p. 30; Life, 31 March 1952, pp. 22-5.