Controversy as Courchevel Tourist Office Building Set to be Leased to Luxury Jewellery Shop
21st August 2022
Last modified on August 24th, 2022
It has sparked a storm of protest with calls for the legality of the move to be examined and resignation demands. The plan has divided opinion in the up-market French ski resort.
The building in question is a large chalet style building in the resort area of 1850.
The local council wishes lease it to a jeweller who has a franchise to distribute Rolex watches.
The tourist office would move to offices nearby.
It says the new offices are more suitable for current requirements.
A local councillor, Isabelle Monsenego, opposes the move and has called for the resignation of deputy mayor Claude Pinturault, who is in charge of managing the move.
She says “this emblematic location must remain a place that can welcome tourists”.
Councillor Monsenego has written an open-letter to the Mayor, Jean-Yves Pachod, and posted it on Facebook.
We re-produce the full Facebook post at the end of this article.
She claims that “this property was acquired with a clause obliging it to carry out a public service activity”.
She goes on to say that the decision appears to have been made as a result of budget pressures.
For the first time the commune is in a deficit.
The row has now been picked up by the national press in France and is reported in Le Figaro.
Le torchon brûle à l’office de tourisme de Courchevelhttps://t.co/RN48qiEGH6
— Valérie Sasportas (@ValSasportas) August 17, 2022
Councillor Monsenego told Le Figaro: “We don’t sell our family jewels to fix management problems. It’s too much. I am calling for the resignation of Mr Pintaurault.”
The new location for the tourist office is to be at La Croisette where the lift pass office, ski schools and the mountain guides office are located.
It was the location of the tourist office from 1972 – 2005.
The vote to re-locate was approved by 21 votes out of a total of 23.
Some claim the vote was taken without enough background information presented and that the computer system did not allow elected officials to open certain relevant documents.
The deputy mayor, Claude Pinturault, told Le Figaro newspaper: “I don’t understand Ms Monsenego’s comments. She’s suggesting that we are giving away everything. In reality, we are keeping the most prestigious meeting rooms in the building as well as the management offices.”
The row is set to continue and is dividing opinion in the resort.
Here at PlanetSKI we’ll keep you posted.
Here is the Facebook post from Councillor Isabelle Monsenego and her open letter to the Mayor, Jean-Yves Pachod:
Jean Yves Pachod’s team has been at the helm for two years now.
Courchevel is doing badly and I can no longer keep quiet despite the very disparaging and rude behavior towards me, going so far as to have me cited for defamation before the Paris Criminal Court next November.
I invite you to read the letter that I address to the Mayor about the building of the tourist office of 1850.
During the municipal council of August 11, two deliberation projects 207-2022 and 208-2022 were on the agenda containing the modification of the state of division in volume and the downgrading of the public domain of a building complex called “Heart of Courchevel”.
This is the remarkable building of the tourist office from 1850.
Beforehand on the form, we, the elected representatives, were not able to familiarize ourselves before the Council with the documents relating to these decisions because the computer system, we were told, did not allow us to open the explanatory annexes indispensable.
We have not been able to figure out how this building was cut.
You admitted this dysfunction in council.
For this sole reason, the above-mentioned deliberations incur nullity.
On the merits, we only discovered during this council the projects of the Town hall and of Mr. Claude Pinturault, assistant to tourism, at the initiative of this decision as you indicated to us.
If this is the case, the absence of the president of the Tourist Office from the municipal council is regrettable.
The reasons for this downgrading given by your oral explanations during the consultation are as follows:
The Commune needs financial resources for operation and therefore Mr. Claude Pinturault, who considers it useless to have a tourist office of this prestige, would have decided to rent these premises for commercial use.
This emblematic location of the 1850 station must remain the place of welcome for tourists.
You are aware that this land had been acquired with an obligation clause to carry out a public service activity there.
How can you free yourself from this obligation and proceed with the downgrading of this building?
If it is true that the municipal operating budget is in deficit, for the first time in its history I believe, it is up to us to find savings to balance the budget, which Mr. Lucien Cordel and myself have never stopped to request, and not to separate irreversibly from such a location.
Indeed, without any document moreover, without obviously any consultation, you told us orally that it was a chance for the Municipality to lease this site to Rolex with a rent of €250,000 per year and a right of entry of €1,500,000.
Rolex would also become, in your opinion, in addition to a prestigious tenant, an important partner to the tune of €300,000 per year for Courchevel.
On the one hand, on my questioning we discover that the tenant is not the Rolex house, but a jeweler with an authorization to distribute Rolex and that the commitment to a partnership would only be oral.
It’s not the same at all and this jeweler is free to switch brands overnight.
On the other hand, assuming this relevant decision, you considered that it was not useful to make a call for tenders, a healthy and transparent competition, while other applications, and not the least, were in line.
You told us that the commercial lease would be signed on August 16, so tomorrow without any authorization from the municipal council.
Would you have the audacity to sign such a document without waiting for the deliberations of the municipal council to be voted on and final of all appeals?
You who advocate participatory democracy would you not find it appropriate to sound out our fellow citizens on such a decision?
We have seen neither the lease nor the partnership contract …… so no document.
Finally, even if the sum of €1,500,000 seems significant, it is derisory in view of the location granted, the commercial property that the lease will provide to this jeweler but also the amount of the last transactions carried out in the sector.
If you had inquired, you would know that this sum was paid a year ago for a “doorstep” of a less well placed 50 square meter premises.
The tourist office is 140 square meters and is a remarkable location.
Have you asked the Domains service?
Clearly the dismantling of the tourist office is complete and affects both its vital forces, (in the person of its director suspended from his duties since June 7 and on which no precise information apart from the rumors which circulate, on the content of the settlement of this case nor on the cost of this operation are given), and its material resources.
I therefore ask you to postpone any signing of any document whatsoever, to convene a municipal council to discuss the advisability of giving up this location, to present to the council the other offers you have received, to fine-tune the legal acts if necessary and in particular the possibility of renunciation of the commercial property to prevent the merchant from making a fortune on our backs and reselling his right to the lease.
I am sending a copy of this to the Prefect whom I will ask to look at the legality of these two deliberations.
Please, Mr. Mayor, accept my respectful greetings.