At the start of the rugged valley of the same name, on the right mountain slope of the Dora, 630 metres above sea level, this district was already known during ancient times due to its mineral stores.
Agriculture is mainly based on fruit trees and is the main source of income for inhabitants.
The parish church of San Marcello, dating from the eighteenth century, underwent multiple restructuring; the bell-tower is from the sixteenth century, built on an ancient, pre-existing tower.
The wetland area called “Les Iles”, which was declared a regional nature reserve in 1995, hosts one of the few river environments with over 130 different bird species, including herons, mallards, Eurasian coots and water hens.
The area is located a short distance from the right bank of the Dora Baltea, covering around 35 hectares of land and includes two lakes.
From Saint-Marcel you can take interesting excursions to Plout (958 m) sanctuary dedicated to “Notre Dame des Hermites”, and the picnic area in Les Druges that is the also departure point for an easy 30-minute trail that leads to the Servette mining site. (Contact guides if you are interested in taking a tour of the mining tunnel).
The climate in Saint-Marcel is the same as in the “envers” area of the valley which, with exposure to the north, is characterised by sparse isolation during certain winter months. Instead, the summer heat is soothed by a lower valley breeze blowing in everyday from East to West in the afternoon (Lou Battèn) Saint-Marcel is famous for its lack of rain and is considered the drought pole of the Alpine arch, with an average rainfall of just 494 mm per year.
Naturally mankind has made its contribution and, by continuing to do so, change this situation. Examples of this include the houses, bridges, roads, canals, embankments, excavations, etc.
The water network in our town is mainly composed of the Dora Baltea and the Torrente, the origin of almost all the irrigation channels, which are so precious to the farming economy and, in times past, the craft sector: sawmills, mills…
There are plenty of springs, whose waters are duly used, to supply large and small aqueducts that adequately meet the needs of inhabitants in the villages and the scattered houses.
There’s only one small lake in this area: it’s the water gem known as Layet, set among the highest mountains in the valley. A natural, uncontaminated oasis still exists in this valley with numerous species of protected animals, plants and flowers. It is the destination of tourists in search of peace and quiet.
Once Saint-Marcel was renowned for its mining activities which took place here. In fact, the numerous mines are still visited today by researchers and scholars who extract manganese and chalcopyrite minerals.