A look at the history of ski resorts in France reveals some common themes: rural depopulation in the Alpine valleys, virgin snowfields in the mountains above. Not to mention some pioneers clever enough (or crazy enough) to see the potential of a ski resort. Each had their own vision for bringing the rewards of l'or blanc to their part of the Alps.
A quick mine of YouTube finds many of these stories caught on film.
First up, Val Thorens (or should we say Val Thorens United). Their 40th birthday video includes interviews with various local luminaries, from the early days through to current Tourist Office Director Gregory Guzzot.
Further south, the Isola 2000 story starts at the end of the second world war, with Italy ceding the land above the village of Isola (Tinée valley) to France in 1947. The history is interesting: a British developer, arguments about the access road, and a ski resort (Azur 2000) that was never built. Here's a short film:
For a longer video, covering the story in quite some detail, click here.
Isola 2000's neighbour, Auron, is rather older, with the story of its first 70 years set out in this 2007 video. Take a look at the newsreel celebrating the launch of the telecabine (at 4 mins), and various ski racers struggling with the long skis. Finally, things start to get a little easier - as witnessed by the local ESF demonstrating their 1970s turns (12 mins):
Back in the Tarentaise, here's a video celebrating La Plagne's 50th birthday in 2011. For more on the history of La Plagne click here.