La Plagne’s lesson in bravery…

La Plagne RAF memorial

Nineteen weeks and counting…. And no, the schedule is still not finessed to my absolute liking…

By way of an excuse, I’ve been on holiday in out-of-season La Plagne in the French Alps where a) it snowed on 1 June (and really snowed, like 15cm of snowed); and b) I discovered another piece of history while out running.

From the chalet in Crête Coté where we were staying to Plagne Centre is only about 3k or so, but entirely uphill via a series of full-on hairpins so it took me a ridiculously long time to run it.

So ridiculous that I’m not actually going to cough up any stats, but at least I didn’t stop till I reached this fascinating memorial. It commemorates the role played by the RAF during World War 2 when the local Maquis — Resistance fighters — were defending this corner of Savoie against the worst excesses of the Nazis and the malevolent Vichy regime.

During the night of 10/11 March 1944, 12 tonnes of vital arms were dropped by parachute from Allied aircraft under London’s command. They landed not near La Plagne, but in the inhospitable, snow-covered high mountain terrain across the valley, near Le Quermoz, from where they were retrieved by a small group of skilled skiers who risked their lives to first find and then carry back the mix of weapons, equipment and other supplies. By good fortune, their tracks were covered by a fresh fall of snow overnight and their brave mission remained undetected.

The Maquis then hid the arms — and themselves — in the now long-disused network of lead and silver ore mines on which La Plagne relied (along with agriculture) before morphing into a ski resort in the 1960s. They were then distributed across the area to a network of Resistance fighters as the final years of the war drew to a close.

This, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with running marathons but everything to do with being reminded that it’s never, ever wise to subscribe unquestioningly to a stereotype…

There’s much more about this and the rest of La Plagne’s fascinating history here.

And now — back to tweaking my schedule…

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