The municipalities of Bsharri, Lebanon, and Val d’Isère, France just inked an agreement to promote cultural exchange between the two towns.
On March 22nd, the mayor of Val d’Isère, Marc Bauer, led a French delegation to Lebanon to inaugurate a program aimed at promoting cultural and athletic exchange between the two famous ski locations.
The delegation was recieved by Freddie Kairouz, Bsharri's Head of Municipality, and Remone Succar, member of the Lebanese Olympic Committee, as well as Christina Baroudi who mediated the visit.
Eager to see the famed Bsharri slopes of Al-Arz (The Cedar), the delegation then went on a tour of the serene village, admiring its awe-inspiring scenic landscapes.
Baroudi, who is a social activist and a member of Lebanon's National Skiing Team, is also a trainer and senior athlete at the Louise Wegmann high school in Val d’Isère.
Addressing participants, Baroudi voiced hope for further cultural, social, sport and economic development initiatives between the two countries.
Also in attendance at the three-day high profile inauguration ceremony was the French Ambassador Bruno Foucher, Bsharri MP Setrida Geagea, a number of Lebanese political leaders, and the respective mayors of the two municipalities.
Mayor Bauer, who later met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, elaborated on the mutual benefits that the program can bring to both Bsharri and Val d’Isère.
Last June, ten Lebanese athletes were invited for a week-long, all-expenses-paid trip to train and ski in Val d’Isère. This June, the program's success tripled that number with 30 more scheduled to travel to the French nation soon.
The cultural exchange program aims to build bridges for French and Lebanese youth that want to experience the unique cultural relationship and similarities the two countries possess.
Val d’Isère is a 1,800 m (5,900 ft) -high ski town in the French Alps, near the Italian border. It is located in the Savoie region, with ample ski slopes and close connections to Lyon, Geneva, and Chambéry.
Bsharri is a scenic town in northern Lebanon at an altitude of about 1,500 m (4,900 ft).
In addition to holding the only remaining and preserved Cedars of Lebanon (Cedrus Libani), it is also the birthplace of our most famous poet, painter, and sculptor Gibran Khalil Gibran. His museum in his hometown honors him and his many outstanding works.
Bsharri is also home to the oldest skiing area, The Cedar's Ski Resort, and to Lebanon’s first ski lift, built in 1953.
The Bsharri district is also the site of the Levant's highest peak, Qornet El-Sawda, (the Black Peak) as well as the touristic and spiritual retreat of the awe-striking Qadisha Valley (featured in a previous article).