Les Arcs Resort History

Posted by George Biffen

Last updated on December 14th, 2017 at 04:07 pm

What would Bourg Saint Maurice be without Les Arcs and vice versa?

Cattle rearing, haymaking, moving animals up to the high mountain pastures, farming competitions and religious services set the pace of life for the locals for decades.

The booming tourist trade in Bourg Saint Maurice was to have a knock-on effect higher up the mountain.

The thriving economy and arrival of tourists during the 20th century shaped the Les Arcs that we know today – a mountain town that adapted to the changes and developments of the modern world.

It is thanks to a successful collaboration in the early 1960s between Roger Godino, a developer in mountain tourism, and Robert Blanc, a ski instructor and high mountain guide who was born in the area, that Les Arcs took shape.

With the help of well-known engineers, architects and town planners who shared the same creative spirit, they envisaged a resort that would provide direct and easy access to the ski area whilst having all the facilities of a village to hand.

Three fundamental rules were followed in order to create a functional and aesthetic construction in keeping with the tourist development of that time:

  • Respect for the area and the natural surroundings.
  • Conservation of existing old mountain chalets, which were not to be copied, for authenticity reasons.
  • The use of local materials.

Charlotte Perriand is one of the most dominant names associated with the development of Les Arcs. After 10 years of working in Paris and then a year studying industrial design in Japan, she relocated to Les Arcs and concentrated on designing the interior of the new apartment blocks. The concept created by Charlotte have spread throughout many other ski resorts in the Alps.

Les Arcs is completely integrated into the mountain setting and distinguished by the architecture which avoids buildings overlooking one another and by an interior open plan concept, which paved the way for a new style of living.

Creation of Les Arcs:

1968 – Arc 1600 resort opens. The modern architecture and purpose built apartment blocks were far removed from the wooden chalets and old family-run hotels that characterised other resorts.

1974 – Arc 1800 resort opens with the Hotel du Golf. Larger than Arc 1600, it comprised 4 sectors: Le Charvet, Les Chantel, Les Villages and Charmettoger.

2003 – The first tourist residence opens in Arc 1950. It was also the opening year of the Vanoise Express, the enormous double-decker cable car that links Les Arcs and La Plagne. The cable car has enabled the creation of the Paradiski, an enormous ski area that covers 225km.

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