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

Monday, 17 December 2012

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? New lifts for Les Arcs

It's more than 50 years since the first ski lift appeared in the area, linking Bourg St Maurice to Les Granges.  And the last 10 years have seen some big changes, with draglifts almost eradicated.  The whole Arc 1600/1800/Peisey flank of the valley can now be negotiated using fast chairs - more on the history here.

Before the Edenarc: The Chantel site at Arc 1800

The excellent Espace Arcadien site has carefully prepared a series of short essays on each lift.  Among the fascinating facts:
  • The Peisey Lift was the first Leitner construction in France, and isn't ageing well
  • The Pré-Saint-Esprit lift, at 15 minutes, is the slowest in Les Arcs
  • The Bois de l'Ours lift reduced journey times from 7 mins to 3, and waiting times from 20 mins to 5...

What next?

It seems the next developments will be at Arc 1800, with a chair and potentially a mini-gondola to serve Chantel and Edenarc.

Meanwhile, no-one is clear when the 32-year old Pré Saint Esprit will finally be pensioned off. Espace Aradien reckons maybe around 2015.

And some have dreams that the Col de la Chal (the slope facing the Nancroix valley on other side of the Transarc) will be opened up by a new chairlift.  Others - the mairie at Peisey, the départemet and "the ecologists" are less keen.  This projet is very very unlikely to ever see the day. 

Sunday, 16 December 2012


To bring you up to speed with all things to do with Les Arcs:

1.  Here's a bluffer's guide.

2.  Here's an A-Z of the area.

3. And here are the key dates in the resort's history:

1961: First ski lifts, at 850m, from Bourg St Maurice to Les Granges
1968: Arc 1600
1974: Arc 1800

THEN: Pierra Menta, Arc 1800 (Charvet), 1970s
NOW: Arc 1800 (Charmetogger): The site of the former
Aiguille Grive restaurant, now being developed
 as a hotel, 2011-12
1979: Arc 2000
1980: Death of Robert Blanc
1982: Link to VIllaroger opens
1996: Tour de France arrives at Arc 1800
2003: Arc 1950
2009: Les Arcs Film Festival
2011: Opening of stage 1 of Edenarc at Arc 1800

For more, see the Les Arcs Wikipedia entry, which includes the installation dates for every single lift....

Sunday, 9 December 2012

THE BIG SCREEN: The Les Arcs Film Festival

Les Arcs has a number of cinemas: Bourg St Maurice (which has a special architecture of the 20th century label), Arc 1600, Arc 1800, Arc 1950...

But it has only recently had its own film festival.

It's never been a resort which opens really early, ie the minute December arrives and there's enough snow.  It's too far from Geneva & Lyon, and has no "special features" like the glaciers of Tignes or Les 2 Alpes.

The Film Festival has become a real focal point around the start of the season.  Without it, the slopes would be the preserve of Staffordshire, Surrey and Coventry universities (who are on the agenda for this season).

It started slowly, but seems to have found its niche.  More here.  The idea is that it is an opportunity for independent film from across Europe to get a good airing.  Each year there is a "special focus" (Belgium in 2012), and each year there are various meetings and workshops for film makers, producers, etc.

The official site is here.

Salle Bernard Taillefur - the Arc 1800 equivalent of the Millennium  Dome

Alongside the 14 Belgian films there are also French premiers for two British productions, namely I, Anna and Shadow Dancer.  Thanks to www.lesarcsnet.com for the link.

Along with all these films are some quite good posters.  La saison de ski, c'est parti!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

GOING DOWNHILL FAST: The Bobsleigh Track at La Plagne


Olympic Games fever: This month sees Ferrari spending time at the La Plagne track as they test their new 2-man bob for the Italian bobsleigh team.

Updated 22/12/12

The La Plagne bobsleigh track was built for the 1992 Albertville Olympic Games::

Albertville was awarded the Games in 1986, and the track was built between 1988 and 1990; more here.

It's the only track in France, and appeared as part of the disastrous Annecy 2018 bid. (Here's some footage of the anti-JO campaign celebrating, by the way).

Indeed, given that it is the only one in France, it also formed part of the Grenoble 2018 bid as well (the venue for the 1968 Olympics, along with Nice, losing out to Annecy for the right to be France's "candidate city").  It's worth a look at the Grenoble promotional video, as it's truly dreadful:

Annecy's loss was a big blow to the La Plagne track; 6m€ were spent on the track in 2008, and it costs 800-900,000€ to keep it going each year.  In an article in Le Dauphiné last year, the Mayor of La Plagne put a brave face on things, but did say that they will need to redouble their marketing efforts to attract people to the site - more here.

For the moment, the track doesn't seem to be falling into dispute.  Indeed it hosted a round of the Bobsleigh World Cup in 2012, and is open for business until 7 April.

Here's a link to the La Plagne bobsleigh club's site.  And from the official site, here's the "Bob Experience".  Last season's prices ranged from 39€ for a place in an automatic "bob-raft" (80km/h)  to 111€ for 3 people to go in the real thing, together with a professional driver, and reach 120 km/h....

You can read more about what it's like to take the trip in this Guardian article from December 2012.