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Main ski resort
|• Mayor (2020–2026)||Regis Simond|
|30.34 km2 (11.71 sq mi)|
|• Density||21/km2 (55/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||872–2,573 m (2,861–8,442 ft) |
(avg. 1,174 m or 3,852 ft)
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
Risoul is a commune in the Hautes-Alpes department in southeastern France. It is located in the French Alps between the towns of Briançon and Gap.
Risoul has a ski resort. It partners with neighbour Vars to form the Forêt Blanche ski domain, located between the Queyras and Écrins national parks. It is sometimes called Risoul 1850 because it is 1850m above sea level.
The development of a ski resort at Risoul 1850 dates from the start of the 1970s. The first lift operator (SAPAR), however, went bankrupt in 1974. The local member of parliament put the council in touch with the Société Foncière de la Vallée des Allues (SFVA). The SFVA started a company called Sermont which took over the lifts and runs them to this day.
The reasons for the bankruptcy in 1974 still loom. The Durance valley is remote, the trip from Paris by train or car a long one. The A51 motorway link is still awaiting a financial commitment likewise the Montgenèvre rail tunnel to connect Briançon to the TGV network. The nearest major airport is over the border in Italy at Turin. The resort concentrates its efforts on returning clients but still lacks sufficient long stay guests. The Forêt Blanche link with its 180 km of pistes is a major marketing tool, especially with tour operators who can include Risoul with transfers to Montgènevre and Serre Chevalier.
The resort was an early adopter of snowboarding. The Surfland snowpark existed for over a decade and is now complemented by rails for beginners and experienced users. The snowpark was chosen as a training zone for the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. The resort believes that the concept of black, red and blue run gradings is outdated and is moving to a series of themed areas such as the freeride zone.
The resort has 55 ski lifts including 1 cable car and 14 chairs. These give it an uplift capacity of 57,000 skiers per hour. The resort is linked to Vars through the Forêt Blanche ski area giving a total of 180 km (110 mi) of ski runs situated between 1650 and 2750 metres altitude.
Risoul should be well placed to pick up weather systems from Italy or the Atlantic but has suffered from a lack of snow over the last couple of seasons with skiing on artificial snow at the bottom of the ski domain. 30% of the resort runs are covered by snowmaking. Risoul is looking to increase snow making capacity but there are limits to water resources in the dry Southern Alps.
The resort has earned the ‘’Petit Montagnard’’ label and its tree-lined lower slopes are ideal for family holidays. The ski school has a capacity for 60 children. The area is famed for its southern sunshine with 300 days of sun per year.
Risoul is accessible from Turin airport in Italy but it is also possible to transfer from Grenoble, Chambéry or Marseille airports (all approx 3 hours from the resort).
Risoul has a capacity of 18,600 beds in a mix of 2, 3 and 4 star apartments and chalets. SARA which is owned by SFVA runs 6,000 beds. The resort is not the most attractive but has had refurbishment program since 2003 and there are also a number of wood chalets that give a more traditional feel to the resort.
Apres-ski life encompasses a range of cafes, bars and night clubs within a compact town centre backing onto the main ski school meeting point. Outdoors there are ice-skating facilities at both Risoul and Vars, snow-shoe walks and skidoo rides. The resort also has a cinema.
In 2000 the resort was the first in Europe to host the Snowbombing dance music and winter sports festival.
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