Bourg St M Town Hall, Dec 2017. Has "Architecture of XX Century" status, alongside cinema & Arc 2000 cable car station. Click on photo for more

Saturday, 26 May 2012

EN COLERE: Industrial Relations in the Mountains

All may be well for those holidaying on the pistes, but the realities of working in the resorts - low pay, seasonal work, a flat market - have led to a fair amount of industrial conflict in recent years.

France is of course no stranger to industrial relations.  This BBC report reminds us that, although the French workforce is not particularly unionised, they are the European Champions in terms of days lost to strikes per 1,000 employees: Germany 4, UK 19, France 100.  (Canada are the World Champtions, apparently).

This is a far from exhaustive list, but here are some recent examples of industrial relations problems in the mountains:

First, a video showing Courchevel's brief day as the only resort in France with no lifts, back in 2008.

In 2011, there was a brief strike in Les Arcs and La Plagne over working conditions and pay, which was part of a national dispute involving the CGT.  It involved 60 grevistes at the Funiculaire, 100 at La Plagne, and 40 at the Vanoise Express.  But the union actions weren't coordinated (the FO union did its own deal with the employers) and the lifts kept on turning.  More here.

Earlier this year, there was a brief strike over pay in Valmorel which saw 110/180 of the resort workers on strike, and 75% of the pistes closed.  More here (including video).  And more on the skiing in Valmorel here.

Valmorel, looking towards Mont Blanc

Back in Les Arcs, there is an ongoing dispute between the ESF and some of its older instructors.  The ESF employs 17,000 moniteurs in 250 resorts across France.  In 2007 it adopted a policy of getting instructors aged over 60 to cut back their hours outside school holidays - the intention being to provide more opportunities for younger workers.  This was adopted at Arc 1800 in 2009, and prompted five instructors aged 57-62 to take the ESF to court.  The latest ruling by the court in Albertville was in their favour, declaring it to be a clear case of age discrimination.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

APRES SKI: Summer in Les Arcs

Update 27 May 2013

Les Arcs is open this summer from 6 July to 30 August, with "pre-ouverture" on a couple of weekends in late June.  Cyclocoeur runs from 9-11 August.

There are one or two parts of the Alps - the Chamonix Valley and the Jungfrau region which do at least as well in summer as they do in winter.

This isn't the case in the Tarentaise.  But the resorts are open, the sun is (usually) out, and you are much further from the madding crowd than you are in winter.

Here's a "Top 10" Guide of things to do in Les Arcs.  If it rains, go to Le Lagon in Tignes for a swim.

The Les Arcs website is now in "summer mode", with the resort (including key lifts like the Transarc) open from 7th July.

Although there are lots of things to do, it's arguably the cycling that's the jewel in the crown.

Tour de France 2009, lower slopes of Cormet de Roselend
For cycling uphill, there is an almost endless range of options from Bourg St Maurice: Le Cormet de Roselend, Petit St Bernard, Cold de l'Iseran, plus of course the mythical climb to Les Arcs :)

The best English-language guide to cycling I've found is www.grenoblecycling.com, which covers just about every col you can think of.

In Bourg St Maurice, the big local event is Cyclocoeur, which runs from 10th-12th August, in aid of local disabled charities.  It involves various events for road and VTT, including the hard-core climb to Arc 2000, which takes the experts around an hour.  More on the event below:

For cycling downhill, there are endless VTT trails, including the Cachette piste at 1600 which is used for competitions.  The video below gives a good guide to the terrain. NB The initial descent, from Aiguille Grive down to the Nancroix valley can also be covered more sedately on foot, ending at the Hotel de La Vanoise in Peisey.  A chacun son gout....

Monday, 7 May 2012


The results are in, with Hollande scoring 51.7%, and Sarko 48.3%, on an 80% turnout. All the results, including by departement and commune here.

True to its tradition of being more to the right, Savoie voted for Sarkozy, by a 53: 47 margin.  In Haute Savoie, as ever, the result was even clearer: Sarko ahead by 60:40.

Chambéry voted for Hollande, just as it voted for Royal in 2007.  But the "Trend Tarentaise" is again evident.  In other words, the higher you go up the valley, the higher the vote for Sarkozy: First round results here.

In Bourg St Maurice and Val d'Isere, Sarko's vote held up well.  There are changes elsewhere, more in line with the national swing.  Indeed, in the key marginal of Landry, below Peisey, a 51:49 Sarko-Royal in 2007 transferred to a 52:48 Hollande lead.

Here's how some of the ski villages and towns voted.  The 2007 figures are first, followed by the 2012 scores.

All figures are % voting for Sarkozy:

Landry  51, 48
Moutiers  55, 53
Albertville  55, 54
Bozel (Courchevel)  56, 54

Aigueblanche (Valmorel)  57, 52
Beaufort  58, 58
Aime (La Plagne)  61, 58
Bourg St Maurice-Les Arcs  60, 59
Seez (La Rosiere)  61, 58
Champagny  62, 59
Peisey-Nancroix  65, 60
Tignes  66, 67
Macot-la-Plagne  68, 65
Villaroger  70, 64
St Martin-de-Belleville  73, 70
Brides-les-Bains (Meribel)  74, 68
Crest Voland  79, 77
Val d'Isere  80, 79