Risoul History

Ski-Areas > Southern Alps > Hautes-Alpes (05) > Guillestrois > Risoul > History

The development of a ski resort at Risoul 1850 dates from the start of the 1970s however the first lift operator (SAPAR) went bust in 1974. The local member of parliament put the council in touch with the Société Foncière de la Vallée des Allues (SFVA). The SFVA started a company called Sermont which took over the lifts and runs them to this day. The current president of Sermont is Michel Comoy.

Successive mayors Jean Escoffier and Aristide Bonnafoux (formerly a member of the piste patrol) had an alternative vision of how the resort should be developed compared to what had happened in the Savoie under successive “Plan Neige”. The priority given to locals for jobs and commercial investment.

The reasons for the bankruptcy in ’74 still loom. The Durance valley is remote, the trip from Paris by train or car a long one. The A51 motorway link is still awaiting a financial commitment likewise the Montgenèvre rail tunnel to connect Briançon to the TGV network. The nearest major airport is over the border in Italy at Turin. The resort concentrates its efforts on returning clients but still lacks sufficient long stay guest. The Forêt Blanche link with its 180km of pistes is a major marketing tool, especially with Tour Operators who can include Risoul with transfers to Montgènevre and Serre Chevalier.

The resort was an early adopter of snowboarding. The Surfland snowpark existed for over a decade and is now complemented by rails for beginners and experienced users. The snowpark was chosen as a training zone for the 2006 Turin winter Olympics. The resort believes that the concept of black, red and blue run gradings is outdated and is moving to a series of themed areas such as the freeride zone.

The difficult 2004/5 season saw a decrease of 15% in turnover for the ski lifts with a total of half a million skier days. The biggest snowfalls came 3 days after the station closed. Risoul is developing the summer and interseason. It is possible to rent apartments by the night rather than week with all inclusive packages in the style of Club Med. In the summer, which sees many older visitors who stay for more than a week, the woodlands are ideal for mountain biking and walking. Risoul is also targeting the conference and company retreats market.

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