Prefect says stop to Les Houches shenanigans

At 9 million € the new gondola lift at les Houches Prarion is the biggest investment in the French Alps this winter but its opening has been threatened by a series of legal actions. This time it is not the eco-warriors of the FRAPNA or Mountain Wilderness who are objecting to the new cable car but a local lift operator. For historic reasons the ski lifts at les Houches are run by two rival companies. The THP (Télécabine Les Houches Prarion) which has recently changed its name to LHSG (Les Houches Saint Gervais) and the SEPP. Think Dallas and the Ewings and the Barnes.

les houches / prarion cable car

The new lift replaces an old 4 cabin lift dating from the early 1970s. It has 77 eight person cabins and offers ground level access. No more scaling slippery metal stairs in plastic ski boots. It whisks skiers over 800 vertical meters in 7 minutes compared to 12 for the old lift. It is also specially designed to transport handicapped people and les Houches hope it will serve as an example for other resorts. In the basement there are secure, heated lockers for skis and boots. The lift is the result of 6 years of planning and design followed by 18 months construction. It apparently has the longest cable in the world: 5,240 meters long and weighing 60 tonnes. On the 8th of November the lift underwent its electrical tests and it should open on the 7th of December, snow permitting.

However rival lift operators SEPP, who run the Belleville cable car, have launched a number of legal challenges to the new lift in the Bonneville court. The most recent action started earlier this month. Now the Haute-Savoie prefect, a kind of government appointed departmental governor has taken action. In an unusual move he has issued an “arrêté déclinatoire de compétence”. This says that the Bonneville court is not competent to judge the legal actions. The court must immediately suspend any deliberations pending a decision by the the Tribunal des conflits. This should be heard during the next 3 months.

The resort has also extended its snow making for the coming winter. In a project costing 460 000 € the Aillouds blue on the north of the ski area which is heavily used by intermediate skiers and one of the nicest runs in the domain will have 13 extra snow canons.

Further Information

Posted by davidof on Saturday, 11 November, 2006 at 09:09 PM

It really is the Hatfields and the McCoys. Crazy stuff. They waited until the construction was starting of course to file most of these claims.

The real reason of course is money - the families split the income generated at the resort based on number of people who take each of their lifts. The uplift rate of the new lift promises to take away significant business from the Bellevue (not Belleville) car and therefore, €€€€€ .

The one nice thing about Les Houches compared to the other Cham ski areas is that it actually has retained some savoyarde character, with it’s independent restaurants (rather than the bland institutionalized and expensive meals served at the Compagnie owned restaurants at all the other stations in the valley) and tree lined slopes.

I just wish these 2 families could get on better, and not risk losing the soul of the resort due to their own blindness.

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 15 November, 2006  at 12:42 AM

I notice that you had talked of the feud over in the ski wiki. Maybe they can settle it with a gunfight in Chamonix square.... at least they would go down in history!

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 15 November, 2006  at 04:28 PM
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