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La Plagne

The history of the ski resort of La Plagne

Situated in the Tarentaise valley with spectacular views of Mont Blanc, the resort of La Plagne has a rich and varied history, and it is these past events that have shaped the resort over the years, giving it the international reputation that it has today. Let's go back in time to discover La Plagne's fascinating past.

The Birth of a World Famous Ski Resort

As with many mountain villages, La Plagne has had to deal with many of its young generation leaving the valley in search of work when the traditional livelihoods of agriculture and mining were no longer able to support the local population. Today, La Plagne is a large multi-centre destination made up of traditional villages and modern resorts purpose-built for winter sports.

Built in the heart of a natural mountain landscape, and with a diverse range of atmospheres, La Plagne has a wide appeal, and attracts visitors from around the world who come to enjoy this dynamic and lively resort.

1961 - A Symbolic Year

La Plagne's history as a ski destination began in 1961 with the building of a new access road to what  had until then been a tiny, inaccessible resort. On 24 December of the same year, La Plagne opened for the winter with a modest ski area with two drag lifts and four pistes. Skiers came to the resort after hearing about it through word of mouth and the media.

From 1963 Onwards - A Phenomenal Growth in Tourism

1963 saw the opening of the first shopping arcade in la Plagne, followed by rapid development of accommodation. Over the years, the ski area and the resort itself grew in size to accommodate the ever-growing number of visitors. France's national "Plan Neige" (Snow Plan) for the development of winter sports tourism shaped the evolution of La Plagne and contributed to its emergence as a major international ski destination.


Did you know ? La Plagne is one of the Alps' largest resorts with 55,000 tourist beds, and is now one of the most popular ski resorts in the world.


La Plagne was the venue for the bobsleigh and luge events during the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics and has France's only bobsleigh run. Since the 1950s, bobsledding has been a big part of the local tradition and is one of La Plagne's most popular attractions.


In 2018, La Plagne was the winner of the Travel d'Or "French Tourist Destination" award.


Determined Pioneers

La Plagne's pioneering founders shared a vision of a purpose-built resort. And over the years, this vision has become a reality.

  • It was Pierre Borrione, the highly-respected local doctor and mayor of Aime, who, in response to the closure of the local mines, founded the ski resort as a way of creating between 500 and 600 jobs and breathe new life into La Plagne. Without him, and his fellow pioneers, La Plagne would not exist as we know it today.
  • No history of La Plagne would be complete without mention of architect Michael Bezançon and his vision of a purpose-built resort.
  • Maurice Michaud, an engineer responsible for the development of winter sports tourism through "Plan Neige", shaped the identity and development of La Plagne.
  • Émile Allais, a renowned ski champion and founder of Ecole de Ski Français, became technical director for the La Plagne ski area.

Satellite Villages that Shape the Resort's Character

La Plagne has certainly kept an eye on the bigger picture throughout its development. The 'original' resort of Plagne Centre has continued to grow, and now has eleven satellite villages, each with its own distinct atmosphere.

  • Champagny-en-Vanoise is a charming Savoyard village made up of hamlets with traditional buildings in wood and stone. This south-facing, sunny resort is popular with families.
  • La Plagne 1800 is an old mining village characterised by its traditional wooden chalets and locally mined 'blue lauze' slate roofs. It is perfect for those looking for peace and tranquility.
  • Plagne Villages opened in 1972 and saw a new type of urban planning - a modern, purpose-built resort built on a greenfield site. It is ideal for families.
  • Plagne Bellecôte was created in 1974 under the guidance of La Plagne's architect, Michel Bezançon. Designed to be the hub of the resort's lift system, its modern construction is typical of a purpose-built ski resort.
  • La Plagne Montalbert was opened in 1980.
  • The architecture of the various villages ranges from modern to traditional. For example, Belle Plagne, which opened in 1981, saw a return to traditional construction methods for its accommodation.
  • Finally, Plagne Aime 2000 is a perfect example of a purpose-built resort.

A Breathtaking Ski Area

Since 2003, La Plagne has been linked to the neighbouring resort of Les Arcs to create the famous Paradiski area. The infrastructure has been continuously developed over the years to create a modern lift system using the latest technology.

The first two drag lifts at Les Borseliers were built in 1970 and 1977 respectively. The Les Alloets drag lift came into service in 1972.

Did you know ? Two years after the start of construction, the Bellecôte gondola lift was opened by the minister of Tourism in 1978.

The bobsleigh run was completed in 1991. Since then, it has been used for numerous competitions, including the World Cup and Olympic Games.

pistes-ski © Office de tourisme de La Plagne

A Rich Heritage

Aime La Plagne is one of the oldest villages in the French Alps, and was inhabited as far back as 1000 BC, and its architectural heritage includes buildings and artifacts dating as far back as the Roman and Baroque eras.

So, are you ready for a stay in the mountains? Cimalpes will make your dreams of a stay in La Plagne a reality thanks to our extensive rental portfolio.

Cimalpes was born in the French Alps from the dream of two entrepreneurs passionate about their Alpine lifestyle. Today, Cimalpes’ mission is to share this passion with its guests by hosting them in the most charming chalets and apartments, and by accompanying them to organize a memorable holiday in our ski resorts. The Cimalpes teams will be delighted to meet your every need; let us treat you to the Cimalpes promise.


With more than 3,000 reservations per year, Cimalpes enables more than 25,000 holidaymakers to benefit from hotel comfort in their own accommodation each winter.