For some it was a real solution to the problem with parking in the resort. For others it is a carbuncle on the face of the mountain, a building totally out of keeping and scale with this small Maurienne ski resort.
If you’ve ever been to Valmeinier you can’t have failed to notice this huge edifice and wonder about its purpose. A fortress, an open prison? No it is a car park.
Problems began during the construction in 2007 when the promoter decided to bung an extra floor on the building without bothering to get a new planning permit. Local chalet owners who found their view of the mountains obscured complained and so a long legal process began.
Local residents were told
One of the major objectives of this car park is to take into account of sustainable development and respect for the environment...it will integrate with the mountain and be in harmony with the resort
It is true that the final building would have a pitched roof.
Now after 5 years of wrangling, where no-one has ever parked a single car, the French supreme court has ordered the building to be demolished. The construction cost 5 million euros but there will be legal fees and demolition fees on top. A nasty bill for the local rate payers of this small ski resort.
Next year Valmeinier will take over the running of the ski station, which went bankrupt in 1996 before being saved by a partnership with the Savoie Department. The current mayor, Martine Noraz, was elected in 2008 on a programme that included the demolition of the building.
Even demolition will not be simple, the car park is like a giant molar at the entrance to Valmeinier 1800. If it is removed the access road to apartment blocks will have to be reinforced. Local politicians say the car-park should have been finished despite of the legal process on the basis that France rarely orders the destruction of a finished building.
This latest setback for the resort follows “Concretegate”: http://pistehors.com/news/ski/comments/0611-concrete-rot-hits-savoie-ski-resorts/ and a number of legal problems in neighboring Valloire (reservoir, high mountain restaurant, Espace Valloire Galibier) which have racked tens of millions of euros of costs for the linked ski areas.