The François-Xavier Bagnoud Water Mill at Hérémence

The village of Hérémence, perched at an altitude of 4,000 feet on the side of the Dixence Valley, unites a venerable traditional style with the modern character of recent constructions. Typical Swiss chalets jostle side-by-side with modernistic public buildings and the concrete church with its bold architecture. Down below in the valley, the view is dominated by the impressive structure of the Grande-Dixence dam.

The history of these Valais mountain communities bear witness to the struggle of harnessing water, the source of life and energy. Together with the long irrigation canals, known locally as bisses, and the great dams, this struggle is perfectly illustrated by the water mills of the region.

A testimony to the people, the François-Xavier Bagnoud mill reminds us of an era when the inhabitants of the canton lived by their wits, with no other resources than those that could be rested with difficulty from the earth.

An extract from the inauguration speech by Bruno Bagnoud, president of the foundation, in September 1997:

“Does not a mill powered by the water of our mountains remind us of our basic food, appreciated by everybody, on which we depend in order live? May this mill and this simple oven remind us that everyone has a right to his daily bread, and that if man were at last to be moved by reason, it would be possible to distribute and share it all over the world.”

Co-funded by the local council and the FXB Foundation, this edifice was offered to the community of Hérémence in 1997.