La Plagne Resort History
Posted by George Biffen
Last updated on September 14th, 2017 at 11:23 am
La Plagne’s development took place thanks to the silver that was to be found in the lead mines around the slopes in the early 19th century.
These mines later became refuges for members of the French Resistance during the Second World War.
The mines in La Plagne were also used to hide munitions dropped there by the English to be distributed elsewhere. In memory of this, the Mont de la Guerre gets its name from the conflicts that took place between the locals and the German soldiers.
La Plagne as a ski resort was created in 1961; the traditional livelihoods of agriculture and mining were no longer sufficient to support the local population and therefore the young people were moving away in order to find opportunities in large cities such as Lyon.
In 1960 the towns of Aime, Bellentre, Longefoy and Macot got together and created an association to protect the interests of the local community.
Under the guidance of Dr Borrione, the Mayor of Aime, La Plagne opened up its first ski lifts in December 1961.
Although only 4 lifts, these were the lifeline that the area so desperately needed.
The design of the resort was masterminded by Michel Besancon, who had a vision of an ‘integrated’ resort, whereby lifts at resort level were incorporated into the mountains.
The whole resort was to be traffic free and the main hustle and bustle of the resort were to be at the ‘front de Neige’ allowing the skiers and non-skiers to enjoy as similar experience as possible.
La Plagne’s bobseligh track was built for the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics. The events of the Winter Olympics were spread over 13 resorts.
La Plagne was allocated the bobsleigh track as a mark of its commitment to the sport; the Macot La Plagne bobsleigh club was the only Savoyard club still operating.
It used the old road leading to the mines at La Plagne to run its bob competitions on the road.
Since then the track remains the only one in France and opens every winter for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton.