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Ski Resorts then and now

 Poster: A snowHead
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Les Deux Alpes is reputedly the 2nd oldest resort in France, after Chamonix. The first attempt at a lift was in 1939 but after the war more were built and it has developed since. Before the plateau was simply the summer grazing pastures for Venosc at one end and Mont de Lans at the other. Just a few barns, farm buildings, bergeries and of course a Chapel (which is still here).

My apartment was built in 1963, one of the very early ones, before it was mainly small hotels. There are several very similar building from that era around. I recently bought this book detailing the resort's history. A very interesting read with great photos and facts.



There is a photo showing the resort in approximately 1965, including my building. Still not a lot here. I'm going to try to get a better print framed.



For comparison here is a photo I took last Spring from a similar position. There is still an enormous amount of development going on.



I know that some resorts had more of a life before skiing, positioned on a mountain pass, major road, etc. Near here La Grave, Monetier. Others similar to here developed for skiing. However it is a real community here too, over 2000 live here all year around.

Any other?
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Claude B wrote:
Les Deux Alpes is reputedly the 2nd oldest resort in France, after Chamonix.


I know that some resorts had more of a life before skiing, positioned on a mountain pass, major road, etc. Near here La Grave, Monetier. Others similar to here developed for skiing. However it is a real community here too, over 2000 live here all year around.

Any other?


Evidently.............. heard this when I was there a few years ago, and just Googled it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar%C3%A8ges

After Chamonix, Barèges is the oldest ski resort in France and it doubles up as an amazing spa town too.
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Quote:
It has the largest skiable glacier in Europe and is France's second oldest ski resort behind Chamonix,


From Wikipedia too, probably several more laying claim Laughing
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For us Rocky Mountain fans, nice article from Auntie Beeb about the origins of Golden, BC. It was a stopping place as for some years they couldn't get the railway all the way through the mountains. Swiss guides brought in to help.

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20200121-the-birthplace-of-canadas-mountain-culture
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Megeve is claiming first also.
Megève (French pronunciation: ​[məʒɛv]; Arpitan: Megéva) is a commune in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southeastern France with a population of more than 3,000 residents. The town is well known as a ski resort near Mont Blanc in the French Alps. Conceived in the 1920s as a French alternative to St. Moritz by the Rothschilds, it was the first purpose-built resort in the Alps. Originally it was a prime destination for the French aristocracy. It remains one of the most famous and fanciest ski resorts in the world.[2]
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@Claude B, In that photo from 1965 had the gondola down to Venosc been built yet, I couldn't make it out?
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@Alastair Pink, approximately 1965, it states early 60s. Definitely after 1963 as that is when mine was built. The first lift from Venosc opened in February 1972.
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Weathercam wrote:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar%C3%A8ges

After Chamonix, Barèges is the oldest ski resort in France and it doubles up as an amazing spa town too.


How do they define ski resort? Surely lifts would be useful, in that case Megeve with the Rochebrune cable car would probably be the oldest and it had a primitive drag in the mid 1930s. L'alpe d'Huez had a lift before the war and continued operating during the war. There was a big plan to develop Briancon in the early 1940s but I don't think they had the materials to build much (a cable car for skiers in 1942 according to that excellent pistehors.com website Happy ). Chamonix on the other hand did hold the 1924 Olympic games so could lay claim to being a winter sports destination at least and the Haute-Route crossing dates from around 1903 (and not 2003 as this article says Happy http://pistehors.com/news/ski/comments/0660-skiing-chamonix-zermatt-haute-route/index.html ) but on those grounds Olympic Chamrousse would best Chamonix with skiing on its slopes from 1878 ( http://pistehors.com/backcountry/wiki/Isere-Drome/Chamrousse-Ski-History ).

ah bazinga!

Megève : -Rochebrune cable car built for skiers in 1933: http://pistehors.com/backcountry/wiki/Haute-Savoie/Megeve
Megève isn't a purpose built resort - it is one of the traditional village resorts. Courchevel would probably be the first purpose built resort in France ( http://pistehors.com/backcountry/wiki/Savoie/Courchevel-History ) although Sestrières, in Italy, pre dates it as a concept.

first drag at Val d'Isere in 1936: http://pistehors.com/backcountry/wiki/Savoie/Val-D-Isere-History

Col de Porte: first "modern" drag lift in 1935: http://pistehors.com/backcountry/wiki/Isere-Drome/Col-De-Porte

l'Alpe d'Huez: first drag lift built by Pomagalski in 1936: http://pistehors.com/backcountry/wiki/Isere-Drome/L-Alpe-D-Huez-History

Wikipedia is certainly a mine of disinformation.


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Wed 22-01-20 20:41; edited 8 times in total
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@Claude B, ah, thanks, that makes sense.
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@davidof, I love this story, if true.

Quote:
German mountain troops on the move, March '44
On the 14th a detachment of German mountain troops were dispatched to l’Alpe d’Huez looking for members of the resistance. All the men in the village were lined up outside Grand Hotel and questionned. The commander Schegel showed them a paper “I have an order to shoot you all and burn l’Alpe d’Huez to the ground, but I don’t want to harm this ski resort, in an hour I will be gone”. Later rumours reached the resort that the Commandant had been shot at Vizille for disobeying orders but in 1951 he was back at the resort as part of the Austrian bobsleigh team competing in the world championships.
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Claude B wrote:
@davidof, I love this story, if true.

Quote:
German mountain troops on the move, March '44
On the 14th a detachment of German mountain troops were dispatched to l’Alpe d’Huez looking for members of the resistance. All the men in the village were lined up outside Grand Hotel and questionned. The commander Schegel showed them a paper “I have an order to shoot you all and burn l’Alpe d’Huez to the ground, but I don’t want to harm this ski resort, in an hour I will be gone”. Later rumours reached the resort that the Commandant had been shot at Vizille for disobeying orders but in 1951 he was back at the resort as part of the Austrian bobsleigh team competing in the world championships.


I have a lot of information about the Oisans from the Paganons (one of them is a very good local cyclist) and Roger Canac but this story is from another source, a journalist who researched the history of l'alpe d'Huez (I note that alpedhueznet seems to have copied my page so don't take that as a second source). I've just googled and indeed the bobsled world champs were in l'alpe d'Huez in 1951 so that much seems true

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIBT_World_Championships_1951



Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Wed 22-01-20 10:53; edited 1 time in total
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And indeed the venue for the bobsleigh for the 1968 Olympics.
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Claude B wrote:
And indeed the venue for the bobsleigh for the 1968 Olympics.


Yes but they had to hold the events at night due to the temperatures - an early sign of global warming?

Roger Canac's book about l'Alpe d'Huez is interesting if you can get it, sadly Roger is in very poor health now and he also lost his son in an avalanche near Briancon last winter. In his prime he was a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.

https://www.amazon.fr/R%C3%AAver-Huez-Grandes-Rousses-lAlpe-dHuez/dp/2723451607/ref=sr_1_10?__mk_fr_FR=%C3%85M%C3%85%C5%BD%C3%95%C3%91&keywords=roger+canac&qid=1579687223&sr=8-10&tag=amz07b-21
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Mont Dore in the Auvergne is pretty old with a cable car from 1936 and apparently drag lifts before that.

It's another spa town and the original lift station building is still there!

@davidof, providing some information here

http://pistehors.com/backcountry/wiki/Massif-Central/History-Of-Skiing-On-The-Sancy
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@davidof, thanks, my girlfriend has skied there all her life, her parents bought their apartment in the mid 70s. I'll mention it to her, they may already have it.
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Claude B wrote:
Les Deux Alpes is reputedly the 2nd oldest resort in France, after Chamonix. The first attempt at a lift was in 1939 but after the war more were built


Maybe not the 2nd:-
https://www.valdisere.com/en/val-disere-history/

"Opening of the pistes and the establishment of a ski school


During the winter of 1932-1933, two Austrians provided ski instruction for the occasional tourists, but four of the locals quickly learned the technique being taught by the Austrians. Charles Diebold offered The first ski lessons, the Cours Vosgiens.

In the winters that followed, these young instructors perfected their technique and started giving ski lessons. The first Ecole de Ski Français, with a dozen instructors, was founded during the 1936-1937 season.

In 1937-1938, the central training school opened its doors at Joseray and awarded its first instructor diplomas. The Chamois de France was created.

All systems go, development of the ski area gets underway


In 1938, the creation of the Société des Téléphériques de Val d’Isère paved the way for a huge mountain development programme. The long term aim was to establish a ski area at an altitude of 1850 to 3300m where you could cruise for 34km without taking or yours skis and without tackling the same run or riding the same lift twice.

Work on the Solaise gondola started in May 1939 and finished in December 1942. After the war, the lift system was expanded into higher areas. At the start of the 1960s the resort boasted a dozen drag-lifts and two cable cars."
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This from the Morzine website:

"Téléphérique du Pleney - A l’initiative des Morzinois empruntant les fonts nécessaires, cette réalisation matérialise l’esprit d’avant-garde du village. En 1934 la remontée est la deuxième réalisation française après Chamonix."

Can we play?! Laughing
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Not in France and a bit later in the 40’s Portillo was built. A lot of the original features remain. Anyone interested in an old school holiday destination (and somewhere different) should definitely pay it a visit. Being Southern Hemisphere you don’t have to sacrifice your winter holidays as you can go in the summer as well! Great place.

Anyway - back to the battle of the French resorts!
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Claude B wrote:
Les Deux Alpes is reputedly the 2nd oldest resort in France, after Chamonix. The first attempt at a lift was in 1939 but after the war more were built and it has developed since. Before the plateau was simply the summer grazing pastures for Venosc at one end and Mont de Lans at the other. Just a few barns, farm buildings, bergeries and of course a Chapel (which is still here).


Here is one of the original buildings - now known as Le Rochail. I have stayed several times in bygone days.

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@achilles, still a bit of a barn full of farm animals wink Laughing
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Tignes, France, 1960s.



Mammoth, California, 1960s.

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Claude B wrote:
@achilles, still a bit of a barn full of farm animals wink Laughing


Exactimondo! Madeye-Smiley
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Great pictures and info on this thread
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alasdair.graham wrote:
Great pictures and info on this thread
+1
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Tignes hasn't changed at all wink Shocked
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@Claude B, Laughing
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I've always heard that Montgenevre is the oldest station in France.
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As it snowed a lot the last couple of days I've been doing more searching online. Mainly looking for photos of my place, see original post. Found a lot of postcards which are of ok but not fantastic quality.

This photo is taken behind and a little bit above mine before it was built in 1963. It must be after 1956 as the Diable Red Eggs are there but before work started in about 1962.


This one was taken when mine was being built. Half the building is up but my half is just the ground floor. 1962/3.


Later in the 60s. My building is up but the Midi which is opposite wasn't started.


Later. 70s or possibly later. Midi which was built in 2 phases is complete.


When they're next here I'll ask my neighbours who bought their place in 1969.

This is quite a nice dated shot of Place de Venosc, 60s or 70s I guess.
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St.Anton:
Skiclub Arlberg, founded 1903
Skischool Arlberg, founded 1921
Arlberg-Kandahar Race, 1928
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A couple of pictures of Lech I saw in the museum there of the same part of road near the town centre. Pre and post the skiing boom.



I am sure someone will be able to date this by the cars.

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@Langerzug,
@JimboS,
Here is a video with some great old footage (1930s) of the Arlberg and the Flexen Pass.


http://youtube.com/v/JFzCWrNHe50
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What great pictures, very good thread.

@JimboS, there appears to be a VW Variant right next to the coach with skis on back in centre of picture. Seem to be made from 1961 to 1973, but with only one plus quite a few beetle examples it could tentatively be dated to early 1960s.
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@Cas, Great video.
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Socialites Madeleine Messager and Arlette Boucard (foreground). Megeve, January 1930.




I've got a whole series I'll post to my Instagram account this winter if anyone is interested.
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The old Tignes (now under the Lac du Chevril) installed this contraption in 1936:



You can see the belts round the waists of the skiers, they had a ring at the front to which hooks were attached hanging from the moving cable. Guess you learned not to fall!
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Little known resort in London, Mount Olympia, sadly now defunct due to subsidence.

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chocksaway wrote:


You can see the belts round the waists of the skiers, they had a ring at the front to which hooks were attached hanging from the moving cable. Guess you learned not to fall!


there are similar contraptions systems in use today


http://youtube.com/v/HqOkkUqLayg
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In the winter of 1934-1935, while struggling with his novel Nausea, Simone de Beauvoir persuaded Sartre to go skiing in the Alps near Chamonix. I have seen photos of her being pulled up by a tractor, if memory serves

In 1834 the French novelist Balzac wrote about skiing in his novel Séraphîta ("Seraphitus threw his weight upon his right heel, arresting the plank – six and a half feet long and narrow as the foot of a child – which was fastened to his boot by a double thong of leather."). The article this is from doesn't say where
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Nice thread...
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holidayloverxx wrote:
In 1834 the French novelist Balzac wrote about skiing in his novel Séraphîta ("Seraphitus threw his weight upon his right heel, arresting the plank – six and a half feet long and narrow as the foot of a child – which was fastened to his boot by a double thong of leather."). The article this is from doesn't say where

That story takes place in Norway.
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