Chevalier Victor de Cessole was born in Nice in 1859. He was an erudite man passionate about botany, mineralogy and photography. In 1889, he joined the French Alpine Club and discovered the beauty and majesty of the peaks from La Madone des Fenestres sanctuary above Saint-Martin-Vésubie.
Cessole went on to devote his life to making the mountains more accessible. In the summer months, he roamed the mountains in the Pays Mentonnais and Le Boréon areas in search of villages and their traditions.
In this period, the mountains were controlled by the military and often subject to diplomatic tensions between France and Italy, especially in the Maritime Alps. However, Cessole and the Alpine Club managed to become well-known and accepted on both sides of the border, involving the military in their initiatives and discoveries.
Cessole conquered the highest peaks in the Maritime Alps and Argentera, and opened up the first routes in the area before turning his attention to the Alps.
He recounted his expeditions in articles and photographs of the peaks and villages of Vésubie and the Mercantour. He made friends with mountaineering celebrities and carried out a range of initiatives to make the mountains more accessible to the public. Meetings and group outings raised people’s awareness. Teenagers on school trips experienced the satisfaction of hard work and the wonders of nature. Cessole also opened various mountain huts in Vésubie, Gordolasque, Tinée and Le Boréon.
On the back of his experience in the Hautes-Alpes, he tackled the winter in Tinée and Vésubie. The wintertime and snow no longer seemed insurmountable to him. They had simply become a new problem for him to solve in order to enjoy the mountains all year round.
He launched the first “winter sports” in 1909, organising a skiing competition at Col de Turini/Camp d’Argent with help from the Norwegian champion Durban Hansen, Junod from Switzerland and mountain infantrymen who had local barracks.
With the mountains made more accessible, hiker numbers increased. Villages opened up due to the new routes, which attracted people who were poorly educated or unaware of this natural environment’s fragility. Keen to protect local plant life, Cessole fought for flower-picking to be banned in the mountains. Inspired by the Chamonix Guides’ Company (created in 1821), he championed hikes with local guides.
In the late 1920s, mountaineering technique was improved with espadrilles, pitons and carabiners introduced to the Maritime Alps area by Italian sportsmen. New higher and riskier routes opened up. To keep the growing numbers of mountaineers safe, Cessole pioneered the first mountain rescue service from 1930.
He was much admired by the mountaineering community. Today, a 2915 m peak in the Mercantour area, which he climbed in 1901, is named after him as a tribute.
This mountain culture underpins our Resort’s design, our wants and our decisions. Each and every apartment pays tribute to Cessole’s alpine adventures.