Look at the black and white pictures proudly framed on the walls and you’ll see La Rosiere’s slope-front bars and restaurants don’t just offer a stunning setting for a drink, but a glimpse into the history of the resort. It was 1954 when the first hostelry was built by local man Jean Arpin. He fought for the resort’s development and finally saw his dream become a reality in 1961. Now, La Rosiere is an 11,000-bed resort with 160km of sunny slopes. Known as a family resort, it’s fitting that Jean’s granddaughter Florence Arpin has just returned to her roots to run bar La Taverne du McKinley, giving up her life as a music promoter in London. She tells us why she gave in to the call of the mountains…
“My grandfather, Jean Arpin, had a crazy dream and – through grit and determination – turned it into reality. Looking up at the virgin white snow on the slopes leading to the Col du Petit St Bernard, my grandparents decided to build a bar. They called it Le Relais du Petit Saint Bernard. These were the modest beginnings of what turned into the ski resort of La Rosiere. Later, one of Jean’s sons – my father – developed the chalet bar/restaurant complex Le McKinley.
As for me, I was born in the suburbs of Paris but baptised in the church of Montvalezan and spent every winter holiday in La Rosiere. My grandmother, Helene Arpin, was the local schoolteacher. Grandfather Jean was a legend – then and now! He had the vision, the leadership and the drive to create this new resort, as well as being a great ski instructor and a fantastic entertainer. It was exciting to hang out with them as a kid, but my adult life took me travelling around the world before settling in London, with employment in the music business and the serious task of raising two children.
Then, 2015 presented me with a sudden and unexpected opportunity – the chance to take over management of Le McKinley. I decided to go for it and within weeks I said goodbye to London and the rock concerts, settled in La Rosiere, and opened La Taverne du McKinley. Now,
I pinch myself each morning. Can this be true? The sheer beauty of the landscape, those snow-capped summits, the stunning sunsets…. La Rosiere is a gem!
So, I am back! It is about time I reconnected with my Alpine roots. I am extremely lucky to follow in the steps of such an inspiring family and to run a bar/restaurant with so much history attached to it. It was in my genes, it is now in my heart!”