Stone has long been a traditional feature of the Upper Giffre Valley which is dotted with limestone quarries (hardness coefficient, 13). To supplement their income from farming, the men in the region used to work stone.


In 1659, there were so many frahans (the local name for stone cutters and masons) in Samoëns and their expertise was so well known that they set up a very famous brotherhood. It engaged in charity work, taking care of the sick and training young apprentices in its own school of draughtsmen, which had an extensive library.

The members of the brotherhood of masons and stone cutters in Samoëns were contacted for leading construction projects. They worked with Vauban on his fortifications, were commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to build canals in Saint-Quentin, and worked in Givors and even further afield, in Poland, Louisiana and Australia. To ensure that they were not understood by outsiders when talking to each other, they used their own dialect, called Mourmé.