The Portes du Soleil, one of the world’s largest ski areas with 600km of slopes, will have its slopes half-open for Christmas and New Year.
The giant ski region straddles the French / Swiss border with ski runs accessed from around a dozen separate ski resorts on either side.
On Thursday the French Prime Minister appeared to confirm that French ski slopes will definitely be closed until January, whilst Swiss leaders said they expected their slopes to remain open. The result is, what the Portes du Soleil summarise as, “an unprecedented situation.”
“In Switzerland the ski lifts will be open in December above the resorts of Morgins, Champéry, Val d’Illiez Les Crosets Champoussin and Torgon. In France the ski lifts will remain closed,” a statement from the region confirmed.
In common with many French ski areas however the region is stressing its individual resorts on the French side will still be open, but without downhill skiing.
“Access to all stations will however be possible, shops will be open and restaurants will offer delicious take-away meals. The Portes du Soleil resorts are therefore ready to welcome all mountain lovers. Our teams are committed so that you can practice outdoor activities in the best conditions. So come and take a deep breath of fresh air in our wonderful mountains. Thank you for your messages of encouragement in this difficult period, it’s heart-warming!” the statement concludes.
Some skiers have been expressing concerns on social media that with French ski lifts closed, some might be tempted to hike up to ski down runs which made not be being maintained and kept safe by ski lift operators.
There is currently an initiative led by France, Germany and Italy to keep all EU ski areas closed until January 10th but it is unclear if this will be successful. Some EU countries say they are handling the pandemic better than France, Germany and Italy and don’t need to close ski areas where they are. Others say their ski resorts are more essential to their economies than those in France, Germany and Italy are to theirs and that they therefore don’t want to shut them down.