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COURCHEVEL RESORT HISTORY

a mountain view
J Kelagopian

In 218 BC Hannibal crossed the Alps and is reputed to have led his army through Moutiers.

In 1032 Savoy fell under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire and from the twelfth century concentrated on expanding its territory becoming known as ìGatekeeper to the Alpsî.

In the fifteenth century Savoy purchased the county of Geneva becaming a Duchy but just one hundred years later Geneva won back its independence.


As early as the mid 1930ís the French Commission of Tourism was researching the concept and location for a ìsuper ski resortî. The vision was to create an international ski resort with a system of ski lifts which would connect a number of valleys and provide the biggest ski resort in the world. Quite a vision!

Around the same time Saint-Bon, Courchevel and Moriond were seeking development and in 1942 a project was set up to assess the possibility of creating a number of ski resorts in the 3 Valleys region or indeed one large ski resorts in the world.

The key criteria were height between 1400 and 1800 metres and reliable lift system to link the individual resorts.

In 1946 a plan of works was established with the purchase of land. Laurent Chappis who had been involved whilst in captivity during the war began to plan the pistes and lift system.

In March 1946 the first ski lift project was begun and a chairlift between Courcvhevel and Les Tovets (now 1850) was built.

Plans were also developed for the building of Les Tovets plateau soon to become known as Courchevel 1850. The plan was to build the ski lifts and amenities in the centre of the resort with the main ski runs passing through the town centre allowing skiers to return to their accommodation without taking off their skis ñ a far sighted plan!

In the sixteenth century the capital of Savoy was transferred from Chambery to Turin.

During the eighteenth century Savoy was under the rule of the Kings of Piedmont-Sardinia who divided the territory into two French departments, Mont Blanc and Leman.

However during the unification of Italy in 1860 the Duchy of Savoy was broken up yet again and Savoy was ceded to Napleon III. Savoy was French again.

However the area suffered a period of economic stagnation and the region had difficulty competing industrially.

During world war II Haute-Savoie was occupied first by Italy and then by Germany and parts of the area became renowned as a centre of the Resistance.

In the last fifty or so years Haute-Savoie has become known for its tourism in skiing but still retains its traditional patoi language, a mixture of local French and Italian which many locals still use.


The development of the ski resort was seen as ìa good fairyî bringing prosperity to the area.

In 1948 La Loze Hotel opened its doors. In 1951 Burgin-La Saulire gondola opended from The Allues valley and plans were put forward for the new resort of Meribel. At this time the Belleville valley was still not developed

Investment continued in the St Bon valley with Verdons gondola being opened in 1953 (becoming a cable car in 1961. It was not until 1960 that the first attempt were made at mechanical snow grooming with a snow cat.

In 1963 Les Menuires was developed and in 1973 Val Thorens and Meribel Mottaret were opened.

From 1973 onward the 3 Valleys formed the largest ski area in the world.

another mountain view



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