It was in 1430 that the first building was erected in the village to come of Les Charbonnières: a mill, built on the brook called La Sagne.
In the middle of the fifteenth century, the little village set up by the Rochat families from L’Abbaye, eventually took the name of Les Charbonnières. This name originates from the intensive forest work and the adherent charcoal production. The many steelworks in Vallée de Joux and Vallorbe used charcoal.
From the very beginning, the villagers combined farming and work in industry. Until the middle of the sixteenth century, one could find many forges and iron mines, as well as a proper industrial complex in Bonport, between the two lakes.
The village of Les Charbonnières is the source of the Vacherin cheese, of which we can follow the trail back to the early 1800s. This new cheese, surrounded with bark and matured in a spruce box, soon conquered the markets in Lausanne and Geneva, among others. The Vacherin cheese participated in many national and international exhibitions and obtained several medals. Its production intensified in the twentieth century and arrived at more than 500 tons per year.
After a period where new methods had to be found in order to satisfy modern and very strict alimentary norms, the Vacherin production has regained its amplitude, to the delight of the finest gourmets. Vacherin is a typical cheese from Vallée de Joux that is only produced in winter and obtainable from September until April.
In conclusion, a Gentian distillery completes the gastronomic supply of Les Charbonnières.
In the industrial field, several watchmaking and precious stone workshops were founded in the beginning of the twentieth century. The factory Zénith was built in 1917. Soon after purchased by Mr. Hector-Albert Rochat, it became Valtronic in 1982. Specialized in microelectronics, Valtronic is today a worldwide company.