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Two Community Ovens: Savoie


The Bake house in Bellecombe.

Like the bake house in Brossieux, the structure seen here is at least 150 years old. The oven its self though was rebuilt, apparently some time before the rebuilding of the Brossieux oven.

The bakehouse seen from the road behind.
Note the vertical cracks in the masonry.

The interior of the bakehouse.
Note the barely visible iron retaining shield below the ovens loading opening, behind the two logs in the foreground. This served to keep the hot embers, removed from the bake chamber, away from the feet of the operator.
This oven is now only fired once a year during the village festival.
The wood load consists exclusively of faggots.

Though in worse condition than the Brossieux oven, the vault is of essentially the same construction, being made from several formats of refractory brick. Like the Brossieux oven there is also a flue exiting the rear of the vault, traversing the mass on the outside of the vault, and feeding into the avaloire.

The refractory brick vault. No reliable information was available concerning the origins of these specially formed moduls, though slightly different to the Brossieux oven's vault, and said to be earlier, the materials look to be from the same source.

The facade of the oven. The operating handle (top right) for the flue is of exactly the same fabrication as the one in Brossieux.
The toggle chain (top centre) opens the avaloire by raising a piece of flat metal that is attached to a hinge on the inside of the front of the avaloire.

View up the avaloire, showing its shut off plate in the open position. The iron bar keeps the hinged shut of plate in position when closed.

The rectangular flue, (at middle left), inside the avaloire, and the corner of the avaloirs shut off plate, at top.
When the shut off plate, which is seen here in the open position, is closed, the oven is forced to draw exclusively through the over vault flue way.
There was no evidence of there ever having been a shut off plate in the Brossieux ovens avaloire.

This dwelling in Bellecombe still has an operational cookstove and domestic oven, as well as a standard RWA.
Like all inhabitants of the village the occupant knows how to season and store wood.

Note the Faggots stacked on top of the wash trough.

A couple who moved into the village recently, were firmly informed by the local wood dealer that he would not deliver more wood if he saw them storing it outside, unprotected from the elements


The villager living opposite the oven in Brossieux, as a 14 year old boy witnessed a thousand fascist troops enter Bellecombe in 1944. Looking for the Marquis. They executed Jules Laboret, Emile Bouvier, Jean Lachenal, August Nicould, Andre Pricaz, and Albert Bovier. And tortured several others. Though the details of his account are too horrific to describe in this article, it should be noted that these Fascists were not all Germans.

Marcus Flynn


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