Sale of ‘iconic’ tourist office in French ski town sparks controversy

Outrage erupted after it emerged that it would be moving the Tourist Office from its historic chalet building to make room for a jewelery shop in the French mountain town of Courchevel (Savoie), a popular ski resort.

The Tourist Office building is built in a traditional chalet style and occupies a very visible place in the town of 2,500 inhabitants. Opponents of the new plans are now calling for the resignation of Claude Pinturault, the deputy mayor who runs the movement.

In an open letter to mayor Jean-Yves Pachod, local councilor Isabelle Monsenego denounced her plans, calling it “the building of the outstanding tourist office of 1850”.

The number 1850 relates to the elevation of one of the five main slopes of the station.

Ms Monsenego wrote on her Facebook page: “We elected representatives failed to take note of the documents regarding this decision before the council meeting. [of August 11]…this iconic location must remain a welcoming place for tourists.

“Seeing it unnecessary to have this prestigious tourist office, Mr. Claude Pinturault decided to lease these buildings for commercial use. Many of our fellow countrymen, including myself, do not share this view.”

He added that “this property was purchased with a clause mandating it to carry out a public service activity,” which seems to contradict commercial plans.

The legislator claimed that the decision appeared to be the result of budgetary pressures. For the first time in its history, the commune is running a deficit.

However, Ms. Monsenego told Le Figaro: “We don’t sell our family jewelery to solve management problems. This is too much. I demand Mr Pintaurault’s resignation.”

The private jeweler established for the area said that items such as Rolex watches would be sold and claimed that the shop could open before winter.

town hall defense

In his defense, Mairie said that “the work has been going on for two years” and that the motion was “approved by 21 votes out of 23”. He added that major tourism officials are no longer suited to the way people travel today.

Mr Pintaurault said the public can find the nearby tourist office at its “original location” in La Croisette, where the commune’s ski schools, cable car pass offices and guide offices are located.

He told Le Figaro: “I don’t understand Ms. Monsenego’s comments. He suggests that we give everything. In fact, we keep the most prestigious meeting rooms in the building as well as the management offices.

“The public will find the tourist information office in its original location. It was essentially a return to an old setting, as Courchevel Tourisme’s offices and reception were there from 1972 to 2005.”

office discussion

The tourist office itself has been the subject of controversy in recent months. Since June 7 this year, its director, Gilles Delaruelle, has been suspended due to “specific dysfunction.”

Mr Pintaurault said in a statement: “The first call to him in July to report complaints was completed on 16 August as part of the dismissal procedure. An investigation is underway.

“Courchevel Tourism has been the target of failure for seven years in a row. I promised to get it back on its feet.”

The controversy and controversy arose six months before the town hosted the Alpine Ski World Championships in February 2023.

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