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History, art & architecture

Flaine’s history

Eric and Sylvie Boissonnas - creator of Flaine

The site was discovered in 1959 by the geophysicist Eric Boissonnas and the Swiss architect Gérard Chervaz, who challenged themselves to create an example of urbanism, contemporary architecture and design, and for which immediate profitability would be dependent on  aesthetic choices and respect for the environment.

The architect... Marcel BreuerMarcel Breuer - architect of Flaine

Éric and Sylvie Boissonnas entrusted the resort design to Bauhaus master, Marcel Breuer, well known for his many prestigious creations: the Palais de l'Unesco in Paris, the Whitney Museum in New-York...
Today, Flaine is the only ski resort built in the 1960’s to be listed in the French Historical Monuments Survey.

Functional and integrated

Right from the early design stages, Éric Boissonnas and Marcel Breuer were determined to respect nature. They were careful not to disturb the natural surroundings and to integrate the resort into the mountains. In doing so, the general layout was able to blend in with the environment’s contours, and the different resort levels cannot be seen from one to the other. The result is a feeling of privacy and tranquility.

Forward-thinking with your comfort in mind

Marcel Breuer used his imagination, as well as the best and most innovative techniques of the time:
o             Technical tunnel network : not a single electric cable is visible from the exterior;
o             Installation of a  cable television network showing Flaine television programmes from  1981 to 1986.
o             Snow making facilities guaranteeing artificial snow cover from 1973 (the first in Europe).
o             Cable car and gondola lift stations on the same level as the ski runs.
o             "Car-free" resort centre with exterior links between the different levels of the resort.
o             A non-polluting gas heating plant (the first one in the mountains).

Click here to download the guide to Flaine’s history, architecture and design!

Art & Architecture in Flaine

A prestigious architectural heritage
The resort of Flaine was created in the 60’s by arts and classical music lovers Éric and Sylvie Boissonnas.
Flaine’s primary vocation was to create a French prototype of architecture, urbanism and design, based on aesthetic choices and respect for the environment.
The architect entrusted with the design of Flaine was Marcel Breuer, Bauhaus master. Born in Pécs, Hungary in 1902, he died in 1981 in New York. Marcel Breuer is known throughout the world for his architectural creations, including the Palais de l'Unesco in Paris and the Whitney Museum in New York; as well as for his furniture designs, such as the «Wassily» chair made of metal tubes.
«Flaine’s architecture is an example of the light and shadow principle that I adopted. The building façades are cut like diamonds. The sun’s rays shine on them at different angles, making them glitter; their reflection creates contrasts of light.» Marcel Breuer

The resort’s architectural forefathers, the emblematic «Le Flaine» hotel, with its sun terrace overlooking the precipice, and the «Bételgeuse» building were inagurated in 1969 and listed in the French Historical Monuments Survey in 1991.

The ecumenical chapel is listed on French Historical Monuments since December 2014.

Marcel Breuer’s Flaine was awarded the «Architectural Heritage of the 20th century» label by the Ministry of Culture in 2008.
Tête de Femme of Picasso - FlaineAn open-air museum
Flaine is home to an exceptional array of art and architecture, thanks to its creators, Éric and Sylvie Boissonnas.
The resort boasts a wealth of monumental works of art "Le Boqueteau" by Jean Dubuffet, "La Tête de Femme" by Pablo Picasso and "Les Trois Hexagones" Victor Vasarely. The auditorium is home to a Pol Bury fountain.
Art Centre
Sylvie Boissonnas created the «Centre d’Art de Flaine» right from the resort’s early days, where contemporary art exhibitions could be held. Today, this cultural and recreational area open to all, comprises:
- An exhibition gallery presenting contemporary artists.
- A bilingual library (French and English), with a children’s section and reading areas. Novels, crime novels, cartoon books, kids albums, art books…
- Video area with projections of films about Flaine’s history, its works of art, interviews with artists… available on request.
- A multimedia area with computer.
Open from Sunday to Friday, from 4pm to 7pm
Guided visit of the resort
Flaine’s Art Centre offers you the chance to discover Flaine as you have never seen it before. Take a walk to discover the history of the resort and its creators, Éric and Sylvie Boissonnas; understand and appreciate Marcel Breuer’s architecture; see modern works of art by Picasso, Dubuffet, Vasarely and Bury up close.
Weekly visit free of charge. Please sign up beforehand. Meet at the Art Centre.

Discover through this film (15min), the creation of Flaine: