Val d’Isere Resort History
Posted by George Biffen
Last updated on September 27th, 2017 at 12:37 pm
Until the late 1920s Val d’Isere was just a small farming village nestled in a wide valley beneath the imposing faces of the Solaise and Belvard peaks, linked by a rough mule track that is now probably makes up part of the skiing.
The farms themselves lay dormant for 8 months of the year due to snow and it wasn’t until the 1930s that winter sports started to gain popularity in this now vibrant resort. Located in the Savoie area of France, at its lowest point, 1850 metres above sea level, it was the Parisian Jacques Mouflier who saw the resorts ideal potential for snow sports.
Mouflier managed to get the backing of wealthy Parisians to open Hotel de Paris in 1932, which then brought the opening of the first drag lift in 1936 taking the first skiers up the Solaise slope, followed shortly after by the first cable car in 1936.
After the war, skiing became more and more accessible and Val d’Isere was becoming a much more established ski resort.
It was in Val d’Isere where the skiing legend Jean Claude-Killy learnt his trade. He was a triple Olympic champion winning all 3 events in the 1968 Grenoble winter Olympics.
It is him to which the Esapce Killy region derives its name. It was at the end of the 1960s when an agreement was made between Val d’Isere and their neighbours Tignes to open a lift in La Daille to link the two areas.
Today, this region encompasses 300km of skiable terrain, serviced by 96 lifts with a carrying capacity of 149,425 persons every hour. Later, Killy spearheaded the organisation of the Albertville Olympic games in 1992, and more recently Val d’Isere’s successful bid to host the World Alpine Skiing Championship in 2009 bore witness to the spirit of Killys.
The local inhabitants worked hard to bring the Championships to the resort, and keep the flame of a living legend alive.
The town itself saw rapid development in the 50’s and 60’s, leading to the construction of less than aesthetically pleasing buildings.
The 1992 Albertville Olympics spurred further redevelopment in Val d’Isere, but this time in a more Savoyard style with the use of Lauze (stone roof tiles) quarried from the Manchet valley and other local materials to make the properties in Val d’Isere more attractive.
Now attracting thousands of tourists annually, Val d’Isere has established itself as one of the leading ski resorts in the world, for both the look and atmosphere of the village along with the great skiing on offer.
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