Flaine is a ski resort which has polarised opinion since its inception in the late 1950s. Derided by some as a concrete montrosity in the mountains, it is loved by others for the extent of its ski area and the range of runs originally laid out by ski star Émile Allais.
Now Flaine is embarking on a multi-year upgrade project for the ski lifts, as well as a massive expansion of the accommodation in conjunction with American resort developers Intrawest.
The original plans for the ski area and the village development in the Giffre range of mountains near Mont Blanc came from Swiss mountaineers and ski touring enthusiasts. But it wasn't until the ideas were adopted by the wealthy Boissanas brothers - also mountain enthusiasts and, more importantly, wealthy bankers - that the ski resort development got under way.
The "modernist" style of architecture proposed by architect Marcel Breuer was considered controversial in its day and now stands diametrically opposed to the current trend of using local materials and styles in ski development. Flaine is however a listed monument, and can boast sculptures by Picasso.
Flaine's development also fell foul of locals (who considered they were being cheated by the compulsory purchase of the land) and government officials (who were opposed to the style of the resort).
Eventually however financial, geological and access problems were finally mastered and the resort opened for the 1968/1969 ski season.
Flaine is part of the Grand Massif ski area, one of the largest interlinked skiing regions in France with around 270km of groomed runs. This also covers and links the neighbouring villages and resorts of Les Carroz, Morillon, Samoëns and Sixt.
Originally, the resort consisted of two levels - Flaine Forêt and Flaine Forum - but a chalet development - Hameau de Flaine - was added later, and a new section called Flaine Montsoleil between the original settlement and the Hameau has now been added. The lift system is also scheduled for some major upgrades to deal with the influx of visitors.