Built in 1686, classified as "Historic Monument", the Fromagerie d'Alp Moléson-sur-Gruyères opens May 15 1990 after being renovated in the respect of tradition, to the delight of all lovers of the authentic Swiss folklore.
2000 years ago you could see them anywhere, now we just see them here and there on the old roofs of old cottages and farms!
Well, yes, the tavillon is actually the noble ancestor of our tiles!
Made of wood of different species, cut and split according to ancestral rites, tavillons do not only have a utility role, but are actually a part of a sophisticated decoration.
Part of the roof of the dairy-farm was renewed in May 2008.
The lifetime also depends of the slope of the roof. For spruce, we can give an estimate of 40 to 50 years, 35 to 45 years for wooden tiles laid on roofs greater slope and more than 100 years for a façade of a building or house!
The Art of tavillon
The choice of tree
There are no manuals to teach you this art, It is only orally and with a lot of practice that “the tavillonneur” transmits its ancestral know-how. Per m2 of roof, it takes nearly 250 wooden tiles and a lot of expertise. He who realises this kind of roofs is a master and makes it not only an art but also a real entity of our cultural heritage.
Tree species available are used on site: spruce or fir from the Prealps. He who manufactures this roofs know the right places to find the good wood, he observes the trees grow and also this knowledge he will pass through to his successors. The felling of trees just as the manufacturing jobs are reserved for the bad season.
The trunk is cut into pieces to length, called "meule". These are then cut into quarters called "mujyà" here in Gruyère, then they are stripped with an ax. In the case of wooden tiles, we say that we "tsappuge les mujyà" (dialect expression from Gruyère), which means that we make a chamfer on the top edge of the quarter.
You never cut the wood grain on the weathered part. Only split tavillons stand the test of time, making the water able to flow without penetrating into the wood.
For prolonged storage, wooden tiles are soaked for a day in a basin filled with water before use, in order to avoid a breakdown when they are being “nailed”.
The laying on the roof of the Tavillon
The little boards shall in no event be contiguous, but perforated to allow good ventilation and avoid rotting.
You start the layering from down under. The first row of tavillons are aligned by a string. It begins with a row of shorter tavillons (approximately 20 to 24 cm), the next layer, composed of normal tavillons (about 42 cm), completely covers the first. This can double the thickness of the roof where the wear due to runoff water is the most important.
When you arrive at the top, the "ridge" can be covered either by an arc or by a double layer of tavillons leaning against the last row of the pan opposite roof above the ridge.
The hammer of the tavillonneur called "martelle" is special: the short run, to prevent entrapment of the fingers, and has a "cutting". First several tavillons are being put before nailing, the hammer is then used to hold them. The nails are contained in a box secured to the belt.