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French Season Start Delayed Again And Remains Uncertain

The French ski season is yet to get underway and the hoped for January 7th date the country’s ski areas were working towards has now passed.

Instead, on that day, French ministers announced infection rates remained too high and said at a press conference on Thursday evening that they’d look again at when ski areas might open on January 20th …but that it would not be before February, probably at least mid-February.

Most French resorts are in fact currently open and offering most activities except lift-access to their main runs. As a result most are reporting business levels down 75-95%.

February is another busy period, normally, in French mountain resorts with holiday weeks sold out due to school breaks, so some are questioning whether, following the current line of French government thinking, ski slopes will be allowed to open next month either.

“We are of course disappointed not to be able to open the ski lifts for the time being, but we are ready for when we are given the green light. We understand and we accept the priority given to health. We continue to invest and to innovate in order to welcome our customers in the best way,” said Marlene Giacometti, Director of Les Menuires Tourist Office in the 3 Valleys, who added, “We have had (and we still have) activities running in the resort for the last two weeks such as the slopes for beginners, cross country and ski touring routes, nordic walk, mountain safety workshops, dog sledging, yoga… and although we have not been as busy as we should have been at this time of year, we have had guests enjoying the resort.”

The closure of the border to all but essential travel from the UK also remains in place as France seeks to limit its exposure to the new Covid 19 strain and again there is no end-date set for that ban.

The Le Ski team.

It has led one British chalet holiday operator to decide to pull the plug on its 20-21 ski season.

“We have taken the decision not to run any holidays this winter. There are simply too many obstacles to operating our usual high quality catered chalet holidays this winter so we are skipping a season,” said Nick Morgan, boss of Le Ski (www.leski.com), which operates 32 chalets in Courchevel, Val d’Isère and La Tania, who added,

“With the UK in lockdown until at least February, and French ski resorts currently closed with no firm opening date, we have no option but to be decisive and opt not to run our holidays this winter. For the first time in 38 years Le Ski will not take any guests to the Alps this winter. While this is sad, we felt we had no choice but to display some certainty and clarity for our guests, staff and suppliers. The vast majority of our amazingly loyal guests are happily deferring to next winter, which is already looking busier than ever. We are immensely grateful to our guests and chalet owners for their understanding, which enables Le Ski to remain a strong company.”

Pictured top: Les Menuires credit P Royer

2 Comments
  1. Baz

    11th January 2021 12:24 pm

    Well this is not a surprise. What is a surprise is that anyone thinks there is going to be any end result other than the closure for the whole season this year. From the beginning of December I figured this would be the case particularly in France after the way they went into lockdown last season when I was there. Short notice and draconian would be the way I would describe it. Although, when sitting on a chairlift removed from almost everyone else in a constant 10mph headwind, there is about as low a risk of catching a cold or covid as there could possibly be. Sadly the best reason for closures I heard was on Henry’s Avalanche Talks podcast regarding the covid situation. They made the very salient point that the ICUs in France are already filling or filled with covid patients, and their Docs are already dealing with ICU more than normal. And unfortunately not everyone skis or boards to the same standard as I do, where I can say I could easily ski within limits to ensure I don’t get a trip to an ICU 🙂 A fact not lost on me after watching a mate break his back two seasons ago, and ending up in the Spinal Injury dept of the Grenoble Hospital. Seeing the number of spinal injuries getting wheeled in there in the few days I spent visiting until he was able to get shipped home was an eye opener for sure. I guess the teams there know the likely number of patients that they see every season and how much capacity they need to plan for. Unfortunately this year with covid there isn’t the capacity for skiers and boarders that were careless/reckless/overconfident/incompetent/drunk etc etc to end up taking up space 🙂

  2. Nigel Hawkins

    13th January 2021 1:08 pm

    Skiers like many others, need hope, so regardless of whether any chance to ski it’s nice to dream about it ! Do I think there will be any skiing – no! Do I want to think there is – yes ! I prefer the latter option to focus on. Hospitals cannot afford Ski slopes to open to the masses when they still struggle to deal with volumes of COVID patients. Hospitals are full of skiers in winter for many reasons – including incredible skiers who are skiing within there limits! Many injuries don’t know your such a great skier and hospital staff can’t make a call on whether your unlucky, stupid or incredibly arrogant.

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