I’d been hearing lots of opinion about the skiing at Avoriaz over the last week. Most people will know that the Northern Alps is really struggling for snow at the moment. So it was a surprise to hear:
“Incredible, I could not believe how good it was”
“Really quiet and loads of runs open”
“I don’t know how they’ve done it”
I went up at the weekend to see for myself. It was all true and very impressive. I skied in Linderets and was sure there must have been over 1m of base on the pistes, all the way back to the carpark. In fact the run back to the carpark at Ardent was the best, I went down it at 11am, totally alone and still skiing the “groomers”. I spoke with one of the restaurant owners and asked where all the water was coming from. “Pumped up from Lac de Montriond during the day” was the response.
It’s not the first time that I’ve been to Avoriaz and been blown away by the work up there. It really does give an impression of being the perfect ski destination. It’s not perfect at the moment but it’s certainly not at all bad.
It made me wonder who is behind this slick operation. I know it’s the Compagnie des Alpes, I’ve heard the name enough but what or who are they?
The most relevant points seem to be the fact they own
Les Arcs, Peisey-Vallandry, La Plagne, Tignes, Val d’Isère, Les Menuires, Méribel, Les 2 Alpes, Serre Chevalier, and all of the Grand Massif (Flaine etc).
They are the main shareholders in Chamonix (37.5%) and Megève and have minority interests in Avoriaz (20%), Valmorel et La Rosière (Sofival)
That’s all quite a mouthful. Basically they are the biggest player in the ski business worldwide. 30% of the worlds ski area revenue goes through them.
Overall they turnover about 700m€, with almost 5000 employees. As far as I can tell from this years 98 page annual report Avoriaz accounted for 37m€ of that and 6m€ in profit.
Further information is available here.
You’ll see that the Compagnie des Alpes is part of Caisse des dépôts et consignations.
This is a bank owned by the French state. Not something I think there is an equivalent of in the Anglo-saxon world. But certainly an interesting circular relationship between the ski industry and the French nation.
The Caisse des Depots is probably worth a book on it’s own. “Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and its subsidiaries constitute a public group in the service of the country’s general interest and economic development. The Group fulfils missions of general interest in support of public policies implemented by the French State and by local authorities, and it can carry out competitive activities.”