|Tignes in 1950|
Although the snow's still pretty good in Les Arcs and La Plagne for this stage in the season (and more snow is expected this weekend) I had heard conditions in Tignes were especially good and worth making the journey for.
|L'aguille Percée - yet another photo!|
|Isère bridge clearly visible|
As I sat enjoying my Salade Savoyarde at the excellent La Sachette restuarant in Les Brevières I found myself thinking over the remarkable story of the village of Tignes. Its destruction and subsequent renaissance bear witness to two of the 20th century's greatest industrial achievements, electricity and tourism.
By the 1930s the agricultural community of Tignes had already begun to reap the benefits of the newly emerging winter sports industry; Val d'Isère, a few kilometres further up the valley had already a number of hotels and ski lifts and Tignes begun to follow suit. The Great War had disrupted centuries-old traditions of subsistence farming (based on domestic production of milk, cheese, pork and cereal) as young men sent to fight had seen more of the world and were exposed to new influences.
The outflow from the new reservoir, which was to be fed by a number of diverted mountain streams, would power generators at Les Brevières and Viclaire before emerging from the a tunnel 350m above Bourg St Maurice in two gigantic conduit forcée feeding 5 turbines in the Malgovert power plant. Overall the scheme would produce nearly a thousand megawatts, enough electricity for 150,000 homes (such as city the size of Grenoble).
|Tignes Le Lac|
|Anti-EDF graffiti -' rape and pillage'|
Many of those families who were displaced but chose to stay in the new Tignes have since prospered with the development of the truly world-class ski resort. In the end, when one thinks as all the 'carbon-free' electricity being produced and what a great place it is to ski perhaps that sacrifice was justified.
I'm taking my team to do a 'photographic essay' there tomorrow, as I think this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the old village of Tignes. Hence this is part 1, part 2 will deal with the growth of the ski resort in the 1960s and 70s in comparison to the development of Les Arcs... coming soon.
Meanwhile, here's an excellent short video of the last days of Tignes: TIGNES, L'EAU MONTE
Tignes, la naissance d'un géant [Broché] by
A detailled account of the construction of the barrage and associated works. Strong on technical detail and historical accuracy.
See part 2 of this blog post for an account of my descent into the ruined village