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An architectural ski tour: Les Arcs, 50 years on

The modernist architecture of Les Arcs has not always found favour with skiers but as it marks its half-century, our writer warms to its egalitarian vision

‘Chocolate box” isn’t a term you’d associate with the Les Arcs ski area. Arc 1950, added in 2003, is cute and traditionally Savoyard in design but, in general, the words used to describe France’s purpose-built 1960s and 70s resorts, many constructed with little concern for their natural surroundings, are modernist, brutalist, angular. I had lumped Arc 1600, Arc 1800 and Arc 2000 into that category after my first visit some years ago.

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Oh what fun! 20 of the best Christmas days out around the UK

From the sublime (Handel’s Messiah) to the kitsch (carol karaoke), we round up fun, festive and boozy days out we could only get away with at Christmas

Royal Horticultural Society gardens’ winter sculpture walks, lights and fairs are very popular so book a long way ahead. From 7 Dec to 5 Jan, RHS Wisley, Surrey, has a new light trail with giant floral illuminations for its Glow event and an Enchanted Botanical Christmas in a glasshouse (£11/£7). Near Harrogate, RHS Harlow Carr (£10/£5, Thur-Sat until 28 Dec) has an illuminated walk and sculpture trail; at Essex’s RHS Hyde Hall (£12/£6, weekends until 15 Dec) children can make Christmas crafts and meet the bearded one (£14 extra). In Devon, Rosemoor’s Glow illuminations run through a winter garden (£10.62/£5.31, until 4 Jan) and Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden (free) has a 70-metre “cathedral of light”.

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