The woman behind the radical design of Les Arcs

Charlotte Perriand was “not bound by conventional expectations of what women could do”.

Working as an architect at a time when many women were barred from the workplace, Perriand worked on the creation of the various villages of Les Arcs for nearly 20 years.

Charlotte Perriand

Making skiing more accessible

After the devastation of World War II the French government wanted to bring leisure activities back to the their population, with winter sports a key part of that plan.

Commissioned to create a new ski resort above the town of Bourg St Maurice, Perriand saw an opportunity to make skiing more democratic and available to all.

Her plans were radical for the era: despite the scale of the project, her belief was that the mountain should be the focus, not the buildings. Hence, her architecture was designed to align with the contours of the slopes in a minimalist style.

Open plan apartments

Central to Perriand’s vision were open plan apartments, to stop women being shut away preparing meals while the rest of the family put their feet up and enjoyed themselves. This was a groundbreakingly progressive approach for the time.

Affordability was also vital, as she wanted skiing to be accessible to lower-income families. This meant that her apartment designs were “identical, prefabricated, modular and small” to make them easy to reproduce at low cost.

Ahead of her time

Charlotte Perriand was ahead of her time in terms of design, equality and also in her approach to sustainability: all furniture, she stipulated, had to be locally made.

No doubt she would have approved of the latest measures introduced by Les Arcs, with their goal of zero plastic bottles, free funicular trips to train travellers and their recent ‘Flocon Vert’ award.

Les Arcs continues to be radical, over 50 years after Charlotte Perriand first started that journey.

Accommodation in Les Arcs

If you’d like to visit Les Arcs, then please contact the Chaletline team on 01822 617761.

We offer catered chalets, hotels and self-catering apartments across Les Arcs and Paradiski ski area. Get in contact and let us know the size and mix of your group and we can recommend the best option for you.

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