Proximity to Switzerland, an opportunity and a problem for Haute-Savoie

It’s a little after 5 p.m., in Valleiry (Haute-Savoie), at the beginning of April. No need to look at the time to find out, listening is enough in this border town located southwest of Geneva. The noise of automobile traffic saturates the place. And for good reason: the parade of cars crossing the village is incessant, mainly from Switzerland to France – in the morning, they go in the other direction. Just like near Saint-Julien-en-Genevois or Annemasse, a little further to the east, in the same department. The congestion of these roads alone symbolizes the challenges that this territory is facing today.

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“At this time, the border workers are returning home”, explains a thirty-year-old working in the town (she did not wish to give her name). In Valleiry (1,748 inhabitants in 1990, 4,907 in 2020), 74% of workers work in Switzerland. “In the neighborhood where I live [à côté de la commune], there is a cross-border worker in each couple. It’s not possible to live here otherwise”she continues. Or, estimates another Haut-Savoyard, Sélim Labaille, a 30-year-old father, “you have to make concessions. But I understand that they don’t want to do it, I’m not throwing stones at the border workers. »

The latter can expect salaries up to three times higher than in France. The Swiss temptation is therefore strong. Sélim Labaille and his wife work at the French public hospital in Annecy and, further north, in La Roche-sur-Foron. They bought an apartment to renovate in the suburbs of Annecy on credit: 260,000 euros in total, for 80 square meters, in the only area that was financially accessible to them. “But I haven’t put any money aside for a year, and for the first time since I worked for the hospital, nine years, my bank account was overdrawn. In the long term, only the Swiss salary can work. »

” Social cohesion “

In the center of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois (7,922 inhabitants in 1990, 15,739 in 2020), the owner of the bar-restaurant Le Galta is currently looking for the equivalent of an entire team. Lucas Daniel, 24, came to help him in the service and at the bar. He works here three days a week, for a net monthly salary of 1,200 euros, because he likes the boss. The rest of the time, he goes to work in Switzerland, twenty hours for 2,000 euros net. “It’s three minutes from here.”smiles the man who has just settled on the Franco-Swiss border with the aim of putting money aside.

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