The building has ancient origins, dating back to around the 17th century, and served as an hospice for pilgrims at the Miserin Sanctuary.
The most recent renovation dates back to the year 2000, when the lower body housing, the kitchen and sanitary facilities were added to the existing building. Since the summer of 2001, the refuge has been renovated in structure and consolidated, thanks to the commitment of the entire Champorcher community, led by the late Pierino Danna and Don Giuliano Réboulaz.
After a few years of closure, since summer 2010 the hut has been opened under a new management.
On the ground floor of the hut there are the kitchen and the dining room where around 50 persons can seat. Here we serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and various snacks. The dining room is divided into two parts, one of which is insulated and serves as a winter shelter. In the dining room there is a stove to warm the rooms in all seasons and a bar corner.
On the upper floors there are four dormitories with 10 beds each, in which bunk beds, duvets and mattress covers are available for our guests. For overnight stays, the use of a personal sleeping bag is recommended (those who do not have one can rent ours at an additional cost of 3 Euro).
In front of the hut there's our fantastic outdoor area where you can relax on loungers, cushions and a hammock. During the hotter days eat or drink something outside it's great.
Electricity is provided by a photovoltaic system.
Water is instead heated by a solar thermal panel and a gas boiler, so hot shower is available for the guests and it costs 4 euro per person.
We have a source of drinking water, which is checked annually.
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|Bed and breakfast||30€|
|Half board (dinner, overnight stay, breakfast - excluding drinks)||55€|
|Half-board for children under 12 (dinner, overnight stay, breakfast - excluding drinks)||45€|
|Half-board children between 2 and 8 years old||27,50€|
|Under 2 years old||Free|
The name Champorcher means 'Champ de Porcier' (field of Porcius). Portius was a soldier of the Theban legion, so called because most of the soldiers came from Egypt, particularly from Thebaid, Nubia and Ethiopia. The soldiers had come from the East to help Maximian Herculean, who shared the title of Emperor with Diocletian, defend the borders of the Roman Empire from incursions by Celtic tribes and were stationed between Gaul and Italy.
In the vicinity of the Great St. Bernard Pass, Maximian ordered the soldiers to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods, but the latter, being Christians, refused and fled in the retinue of Maurice (St. Maurice); the emperor had them chased down and decimated twice by beheading. Again because they were Christians, the soldiers refused to fight against the Christian populations that inhabited the Alpine area and were destined for extermination.
Between 286 and 300 A.D., two legionaries, Bessus and Portius (later to become St. Bessus and St. Portius), managed to save themselves.
S. Besso escaped to Val Soana and in those mountains began preaching the Gospel of Christ, but, thought to be insane, was slaughtered and thrown from a mountain. Legend has it that as his body fell, it left its mark on a rock where the sanctuary dedicated to him stands today.
S. Porzio settled in the upper Champorcher valley, near Lake Miserin. There he became a shepherd and began to evangelise the local population.
He is said to have carved a small statue of the Madonna and placed it in a niche near the lake. The place soon became a place of pilgrimage and an oratory was founded, the first Miserin 'chapel'.
Over the centuries, the little chapel was certainly enlarged and rebuilt, but there is no precise information.
Tradition tells how in the period 1630-1636, when the plague raged in the Aosta Valley, the inhabitants of Champorcher vowed to build a chapel near Lake Miserin and to go there every year in procession to be preserved from the terrible scourge. The plague did not come to Champorcher and the chapel was built on the site where an oratory certainly already stood. The chapel-sanctuary was blessed in 1658. It was later destroyed and rebuilt several times.
On 5 August 1881, the present chapel was inaugurated, built according to Abbé Chanoux's design and blessed by Monsignor Duc, Bishop of Aosta.
On the occasion of the inauguration, Abbé Pierre Chanoux, rector of the Petit St. Bernard, composed the 'Chant du lac', a song of communion still sung today on the occasion of the lake festival.
In 1947, the sanctuary was destroyed by fire and rebuilt thanks to the work and faith of the villagers. On 5 August 1951, the statue of Our Lady of Grand-Retour was brought to the new sanctuary, which still welcomes pilgrims who come in large numbers to venerate her and ask for her protection.
The sanctuary can be reached by following the royal road, a hunting road dating back to 1862, built at the suggestion of King Victor Emmanuel II and with the support of the local population.
A shepherd boy, while grazing his cows in the pastures of Dondena, carved a piece of wood into a statuette of the Madonna; he found it so beautiful that he decided to build a shelter for her near his mountain pasture. Every day he prayed to his Madonnina.
One morning... surprise!... the Madonnina was gone! He searched for her for a long time until he found her near Lake Miserin; he happily took her back home, but the escape was repeated several times and the shepherd boy always found her in the same place; this made him realise that the Madonnina wanted to live up there.
The shepherd boy did not hesitate and built her a shelter near the lake, visiting her every day. Our Lady proved that the new house was to her liking and never left it again! To this day, Our Lady of the Snows still lives at Lake Miserin!
The procession departs from the Champorcher parish church at 4 o'clock, by torchlight; along the way there are songs, prayers and short stops for a sip of hot tea offered by a family linked to the tradition for many years.
Festa de Retour al lago: date to be defined, in September.