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

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

ARC 1800: A Guided Tour

During the season Arc 1800's weekly programme of animations includes a guided tour around the resort.  This year it was at 6pm on a Wednesday.  It's in French at the moment, but there is a plan to do a version in English.

Lots of reference is made to the work of Charlotte Perriand, who masterminded the interiors at Arc 1800.  This involved a mixture of design and practicality, with the initial Charvet blocks of Belles Challes, Lauzieres and Pierra Menta built very quickly, and on a much larger scale than had been the case at Arc 1600.

For those not yet persuaded as to the merits of the resort's architecture, here is a bit of background, while this post talks about Les Arcs' history.

The tour points out how much attention was made to get the orientation of the apartment blocks right, so that they got the benefit of the sunshine as much as possible.  Unlike La Plagne, there was always a plan to make the resort a summer destination, as witnessed in the golf course and indeed the Hotel du Golf (1974).  And talking of summer, the awarding of appellation status to Beaufort cheese has further helped at least stabilise the economy outside the winter season.

Belles Challes, Arc 1800

There is a reminder of how priorities changed over the course of little more than a decade. When Charvet was constructed, there was a big emphasis on being a pedestrian resort. By the time Charmetogger was on the drawing board, everyone wanted to come in their cars, and the resulting plans evolved accordingly.

In terms of developments, it does look like Edenarc will be the last major addition, as the resort is now at the limits of what will be permitted, construction-wise.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

BOURG ST MAURICE: Work in Progress

Bourg St Maurice is now poised to move on from the loss of the Chasseurs Alpins army brigade.  Losing 1,400 people is a big loss to a small town, and it's taking a little time for the plans to come to fruition.

The plan (this one from February 2014) is to build a new tourist complex on the site, which will include a hotel, holiday apartments and aquatic centre.  There isn't a huge amount of information online at the moment, but things are clearly starting to move.

The Quartier des Alpins branding is in place, and work is now under way to clear the site, with 30 buildings awaiting demolition between now and November.

Yesterday: The base of the 7th Chasseurs Alpins brigade

Tomorrow: a new "tourist zone" aka the
Quartier des Alpins

Regular visitors to Les Arcs will be pleased to learn that the redevelopment will be a catalyst for the long-awaited upgrading of the grotty pedestrian bridge which links the station with the funiculaire.  The 2013 plan involved adding new lifts, with the bridge being be extended towards the Quartier des Alpins.  Estimated cost: €1.85m.  Le Dauphiné's 6 May 2015 edition reports that it is indeed going to be "completely renovated", but it's behind the paywall, so that's as far as I've got for the moment.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

PARADISE LOST: Force Majeure

Snow Therapy (French). Turist (Swedish).  And now Force Majeure (in English....).  Now on release in the UK, this Swedish film, set in Les Arcs, is now in UK cinemas.  You can also watch it online at home via Curzon Home Cinema.

Arc 2000 has moved location, and now sits
in the main Haute Tarentaise valley

The Guardian put it on the front page of G2, gave it four stars and interviewed lead actor Johannes Bah Kuhnke.  They filmed the interior scenes in a Swedish hotel (it looks like the Hotel du Golf, but rather swankier) with Les Arcs forming the backdrop to the exterior shots.

"This ice cold Swedish drama about a family torn apart by cowardice is like Bergman with a wicked streak", says the Telegraph, also awarding the film four stars.

At Le Solliet, above Villaroger?

For Les Arcs fans, there is of course the opportunity to completely miss the point of the film and play "spot the location".  These include:
  • Arc 2000 moving location (see photo above)
  • Drinking at Le Solliet
  • Skiing from La Plagne back towards the Vanoise Express
  • The Varet and Aiguille Rouge lifts
  • The Pierra Menta block at Charvet
  • The scary pedestrian tunnel linking Charvet with the Croisette parking at Arc 1800
  • Plus, the star of the show: La Creche restaurant at the top of the Transarc, location for the pivotal avalanche scene:

Click here for an interview with
Ruben Ostlund

Saturday, 2 May 2015


There is new snow up high, but it's the wrong type of snow.  In any case, all the resorts bar Tignes and Val Thorens are now closed.

The Montalbert telecabine is officially under construction.

@WeLove2Ski has published a warts and all guide to La Plagne.  "La Plagne's statistics make it feel like the best resort on earth....However it isn't the best resort - even in France."  It points out the slightly unusual terrain - flat around the main bowl and steep both up top and down below: "by turns it's bland and bloody terrifying".

Les Arcs' website now has its summer skin, with the resort open from 4 July - 29 August. This will see the reopening of the outdoor pool to complement the fancy new indoor pool/spa set-up.

There will also be weekend openings of the funiculaire and Cachette lift during the final two weekends of June.

The summer music festival runs from 19th July-2nd August - bringing with it lots of keen music students and free concerts.

The Tour de France continues to cold shoulder the Tarentaise, but at least the Cyclocoeur cyclo-sportive events, now in their 12th year, continue to flourish.  This year's events are on 7-9 August.

Meanwhile, over at Peisey Vallandry, home to some of the best walks in the area, there is a new website, including a summer photo competition...

Wainwright in the Alps: a walk from
Nancroix valley to the Lac de la Plagne