Friday, December 20, 2013

Bending bananas

Coming back to Les Arcs/Bourg St Maurice each year for the winter season always provokes a few emotions: this year it's a mixture of the normal excitement for another winter on this magic mountain (especially now the snow's coming down in serious amounts), and  bit of deja vu touched with a hint of disappointment.

With both chalets filling up this weekend I will have to get ready to answer all those questions the beloved guests always pose: 'How long have you been doing this?', 'What did you do before?' etc. and of course 'What do you do in the Summer?'. Not that I mind answering any of these questions: they can lead to a good conversation and be a way to find out a bit about the guests doing the asking. But it can get a bit tiring sometimes, and some rather cheeky ski instructors of my acquaintance always reply to that last one ' we bend ze bananas'. The guests, not wanting to appear rude suspend disbelief.... 'we bend zem for the European Community so zey have the right amount of bend'. Well I suppose someone has to do it!

The fabulous Cinema Festival  Festival de Cinéma Européen des Arcs film festival is in full swing, featuring many interesting looking films from the countries formerly making up Yugoslavia. It good to see Bourg included as a venue for some of the screenings, at Le Savoy Cinema and the enterprising Super U Culture media shop. Travel between these two venues and you will pass the sad, unfinished multi-screen cinema project at the new  Coeur d'Or complex. Arguments between the lesees Cine-Alpes and the town council have been raging all year, and finally they've agreed to part company.  So back to square one for another of the towns flagship projects, null points to Mde Poletti (the mayor).
The new cinema, still dark

In fact Mde Poletti exudes more than hint of depression in the Petit Borain town magazine: describing last spring as sad and morose in the wake of the cancellation of the CNSHN project and the consequent collapse the Quartier Bulle redevelopment project (the town's two big projects for the future), she fears for Bourg but promises everyday her 'devotion to duty and to work without ceasing for the benefit of the town'. Hollow words, I fear.

To make up for all this doom and gloom the she and the town council have managed to bring off one highly unpopular developments: introducing charging for the Funicular car-park ( at least €3 a day, and no overnight parking).

How it might look once the locals have had their way!
Some readers might remember this happened also happened about 5 years ago, when local distaste for such a stupid idea lead the the various barriers and gates being damaged, removed or destroyed within a few days. They council gave up, but this time they are back with a vengeance!  There's a even a hut for an employee to sit in, presumably to deter night-time expressions of civil distaste.

It may make a few thousand euros for the town, but only in retrospect does anyone seem to be thinking of the disruption that will be caused by parking sauvage (wild parking). Here at Les Granges I expect the small carpark to be regularly overcrowded and gridlocked by those understandably wanting to avoid paying out. How much more noise, green-house gas emissions and visual pollution is justified by this mercenary pettiness?

Craning in the twin towers
I was also hoping to see a nice  new, bright buildings and the footbridge at the foot of the Funiculaire, but instead there's a small building site and not much else. Apparently the long-awaited refurbishment of the first thing most people see when they arrive here in the way to Les Arcs will not be completed until the end of January. A large crane has been lifting two steel towers into place to provide new lift access to the footbridge, but that's about all that has visibly changed.   One wonders why they waited until the middle of winter to do a job which surely would have been easier in good weather, as well as being ready for the start of the season. Perhaps they've been too busy bending those bananas all summer!

Bonne Saison to all my readers!

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