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GENESIS OF THE RESORT
THE RESORT IS BUILT ON A PLATEAU WHICH ONCE BELONGED TO THE COUNTS OF ROVORÉE, AN ILLUSTRIOUS FAMILY FROM THE CHABLAIS REGION
CONSTRUCTION OF THE RESORT
AVORIAZ WAS CREATED ON PAPER ON 28 DECEMBER 1962
Yes, it's time we mentioned the festival. The resort had barely opened and Gérard Brémond needed to make it known to the public. He was In search of an idea that would propel Avoriaz into the headlines, when he met Lionel Chouchan, who suggested organising a film festival in Avoriaz devoted only to the fantastic. The special, troubling astmosphere of the Dromonts village, draped in snow and often shrouded in mist, no doubt inspired Lionel Chouchan. It was a risky move, especially as that cinema genre was in decline during the 60s and 70s, with second-rate films that were badly shot and quickly forgotten after being screened at two for the price of one. Since 1973, its very first year, the Festival du Film Fantastique d'Avoriaz has attracted and revealed film-makers who are now well-established, including Steven Spielberg who won the Grand Prix in 1973 with Duel, as well as David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Brian de Palma, Georges Miller, Luc Besson, and many more. Between 1994 and 1996, the Fantastic Film Festival of Avoriaz stepped aside to make way for the French Film Festival.
While the resort was being built and the ski area created, the Falaise district took shape in line with the architectural style of its beginnings. The Sepia and Epicea apartment blocks emerged, and the municipal bulidings and nursery were the final touch to the fully-fledged resort. The resort has evolved from its founding principles yet remains loyal to them, with its buildings of timber and stone that blend perfectly into the natural surroundings of cliffs, forests and alpine pastures. The unusual choice to plan a car-free, fully integrated ski-to-door resort with non-pollutant electric heating now forces the admiration of other resorts who, thirty years on, are following suit. Proud of its beginnings, the resort is about to reach the zenith of its era as it strives to anchor its identity in its most precious asset: it's environment. When you stay in Avoriaz, you discover a land that's steeped in history. Avoriaz is truly protected from the folly of man and has succeeded in retaining its authenticity and originality. Avoriaz remains a jewel among French ski resorts and aims to provide the perfect escape from day-to-day life, allowing families and friends to recharge their batteries in a ski-in-ski-out, vehicle-free heaven for children. Avoriaz is the stuff of legends, historical tales and memorable adventures, and deserves a little attention.
Besides the well-equipped ski area, Avoriaz is of architectural interest too. Mimetic, contemporary, sensitive, fantastical, baroque, avant-garde... this fascinating architecture has given rise to many interpretations. Yet Jacques Labro, one of the three architects, has no rational explanation for the style of Avoriaz. "The style is inherent to each architect who has his own way of doing things and the nature and period of the project can also have an impact." The truth is, their work is guided by a single concept for a design that fits the mountain setting without ressembling a Savoie chalet or competing with urban dimensions. The architects have strived to match their shapes, volumes and materials with the surrounding landscape. The Sosna, Thuya and Araucarya buildings, as well as the opposite chalets, are the best demonstration of this; their architectural design is in harmony with the natural decor. They leave the beaten track, take liberties with verticality and are disloyal to right-angled traditions. The roofs have extended their slopes to the ground, helping to stabilise the snow that covers the buildings throughout the winter. The only concession made to local tradition is the use of timber tiles to cover the walls. These used to cover most of the roofs of Savoie. Here, they are also known as Shingles, as they're made from a red cedarwood that originates from Canada. The timber is deliberately left untreated to allow time and the elements to give it its hues; south-facing façades turn to a mink-grey, north walls become ash-grey, and those facing east or west take on a reddish brown colour. Place des Dromonts is the resort's historical centre, the square where the "mountain-inspired" architecture is best expressed. The exuberant lobby of the Dromonts hotel is itself a complete demonstration of the spirit that reigned during the first stages of the construction work, with all its nooks and crannies, split-level features, extravagant flights of stairs, intersecting walkways, and oven-shaped fireplaces. The designers of Dromonts village won the Equerre d'Argent architecture prize in 1968, attracting photographers who "hid" on the stairs to capture the Festival stars before they disappeared into the darkness of the screening rooms.