Diamonds Are For Never

Articles > Diamonds Are For Never


  1. The Espace Diamant
  2. Opposition to the Espace Diamant
  3. Espace Diamant Property Speculators
  4. Espace Diamant Laissez-Passez

In May 2004 I spent a snug but frustrating weekend in the guard’s refuge in the Vanoise with four other ski mountaineers. Our objective was the Grand Casse but we were pinned down by an unseasonal snow-storm. Rooting around for something to read I found a faded ski magazine from the 1970s. It focused on Megève’s off-piste.

I remembered Megève as a low lying resort for snobs – poor snow but that wasn’t the point. Somewhat ironically it is also one of the few European ski resorts with a McDonalds (Chamonix Mont Blanc and Davos being others). Megève’s chic origins go back to the first world war when Baroness Noémie de Rothschild decided to create a resort far from the “ghastly bosch” although it was skier Mathilde Lefournier who had pioneered Megève as a winter sports destination. In 1933 the Rochebrune cable car, the first aimed purely at skiers, was constructed. The development of lift served skiing and ski pistes were controversial from the start. Léon Zwingelstein thought the skiers were there just to complete the maximum number of runs and hadn’t really earned their turns. A debate that continues to this day.

The article made Megève look like a great spot for some lift served off-piste, providing the conditions were good. I asked one of my more knowledgeable friends where the runs could be found. Pistes, he told me. Today they are pretty much all ski pistes. This is really the story of the French ski industry over the last 20 years. A steady encroachment on what was once wild and savage. The argument is simple; ski resorts must expand because this is the only way they can compete in the new globalized market place. Thousands of jobs are at stake, the resorts form an integral link in the whole regional economy.

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