PlanetSKI is in France as finally the snow has begun falling. It follows a dispute about conditions on piste. UPDATED

Our editor, James Cove, is in Serre Chevalier in the southern French Alps.

Our chief reporter, Jane Peel, is in Les Arcs in the Paradiski area of the northern French Alps.

Les Arcs and has the most snow of any French resort and Serre Chevalier takes second spot.

When they arrived earlier in the week there had been no snow since Christmas.

Despite that, they found the pistes in generally good shape, the holiday crowds gone & the sun shining.

On the piste in Serre Chevalier

On the piste in Serre Chevalier. Image © PlanetSKI

On the piste in Serre Chevalier

On the piste in Serre Chevalier. Image © PlanetSKI

After a snow drought there was no deep powder snow and it was hard packed and very icy in places.

A handful of runs were closed and the slopes lower down were bare in parts.

More snow was needed.

Now, at last, it has begun to fall.

It could still do with more, but it’s getting there.

Below we describe the conditions as they were earlier in the week and a dispute in some sections of the media.

But first, here’s the situation as of midweek.

First from Serre Chevalier on Wednesday:

And what about further north in the Paradiski area of France:

Light snow began to fall on Tuesday 8th January, freshening up the pistes.

By Wednesday morning on the slopes around Arc 1950, conditions on piste had improved dramatically.

The snow fell for much of the day.

It remained very cold so it was is super light and fluffy.

Snow condtions in the Les Arcs area

Light and fluffy snow, Wednesday 9th. Image © PlanetSKI

The conditions on piste are now superb with just a few icy patches.

There was even the chance to tackle a little off-piste through the trees in the Peisey-Vallandry area.

Fresh snow in the Les Arcs area

Jane Peel enjoying the fresh snow on Wednesday. Image © PlanetSKI

And then on Thursday 10th the sun returned to the Paradiski area in the morning as Jane headed over to the La Plagne side.

It was, though, bitterly cold.

Later, some clouds returned and with them a few light flurries.

Here’s the view on one of the runs down from La Plagne into Champagny-en-Vanoise.


Champagny-en-Vanoise – Thursday 10th. Image © PlanetSKI


Parts of France are finally back in business.

And so, what about the row?


A rather odd discrepancy has blown up between The Times and The Telegraph newspaper and a specialist UK ski web site, In The Snow.

The newspapers claim some conditions in France are ‘death traps’ while In The Snow has responded by soliciting comments from UK tour operators saying it is ‘brilliant’.

Well, PlanetSKI is actually out on the slopes in France at the moment & here is what we see.

A mix of the two:


James Cove, Serre Chevalier, France

James Cove, Serre Chevalier, France

As I sat at Gate 34 in the South Terminal of Gatwick airport on Sunday night heading to Turin airport I felt frustrated.

At neighbouring Gate 35 the passengers were heading to Innsbruck.

The airport had re-opened and the surrounding resorts in the Tirol have had up to 2m of fresh snow.

Where I was going it hadn’t snowed since before Xmas.

But once out on the slopes on Monday I just appreciated being exactly where I was in the mountains.

Whatever the conditions:

There have been numerous reports in the UK press in recent days about the poor piste conditions.

There certainly are some closures and some thin cover here in the southern French Alps.

Serre Chevalier, France

Serre Chevalier, France. Image © PlanetSKI

But there are also some great conditions too, with no-one around.

Serre Chevalier, France

Serre Chevalier, France. Image © PlanetSKI

And there are some moguls around if you like that sort of skiing.

Serre Chevalier, France

Serre Chevalier, France. Image © PlanetSKI

And here are the views:

Tuesday 8th

What a difference a day makes!

Here, on a very windy day, are the current piste conditions:

And if you can’t hear over the high winds…

I report that there was a very small amount of fresh snow overnight with a slight rise in temperature, but more importantly the air became much drier.

And what do the experts say about the current piste conditions in Serre Chevalier and how dangerous are they at the moment?

“The conditions have been hard packed recently with no fresh snow since before Xmas but we haven’t seen an increased in accidents, ” said Robert Silvestre from the piste patrol.

‘However what we have seen is an increase in their severity.  We have averaged about 15 a day on the slopes here recently and what we have seen is greater injuries that people suffer if they do have an accident.”

“This is because the slopes are harder and they might be travelling faster too.”

Serre Chevalier piste patrol

Robert Silvestre, Serre Chevalier piste patrol. Image © PlanetSKI

JANE PEEL, LES ARCS – Monday 7th

I am usually quite blasé about my annual ski trips to the French Alps at this time of year.

They frequently take me to some of the highest altitude resorts where it’s rare to have to worry too much about snow conditions in January.

I was in Tignes in the first half of December and experienced fabulous powder.

With my next trip planned for Les Arcs just a few weeks later I had hoped for more of the same.

In Les Arcs

Jane Peel, Les Arcs, France. Image © PlanetSKI

Ever the optimist, I brought my off-piste kit with me.

Unfortunately, it last snowed here on 24th December, so I can forget about that.

And I’d been heard that rain combined with large holiday crowds over the Christmas and New Year period had turned the pistes into sheet ice in places.

Seasonaires told me they’d not bothered to go out at all and the piste patrol had reported more accidents than usual.

Up on the mountain, as I ventured out on day one, Sunday 6th January,  there were signs that the rain and lack of snow had done some damage.

Les Arcs

Les Arcs, France. Image © PlanetSKI

Peisey-Vallandry, Les Arcs

Peisey-Vallandry, Les Arcs, France. Image © PlanetSKI

But the good news was that a few days before I arrived the temperatures had plummeted and the extensive network of snow cannons had gone into overdrive.

And the sun had come out.

So what was it like?

On day two, Monday 7th, I decided to venture across on the Vanoise Express cable car to test out the conditions in the other half of the vast Paradiski area, La Plagne.

It was still cold and the artificial stuff was being pumped out.

Snow cannons, La Plagne

Snow cannons in Plagne Montalbert, France. Image © PlanetSKI

Artificial snow in La Plagne

Artificial snow in La Plagne, France. Image © PlanetSKI

Conditions were much the same as in Les Arcs, though there were possibly a few more icy patches on the lower runs.

La Plagne

La Plagne, France. Image © PlanetSKI

The higher pistes were, again, pretty good.

It’s a quiet week with all the holidaymakers gone, which is great for those of us around.

And there’s a little bit more good news…. on Tuesday and Wednesday some snow is forecast.

Not a lot, but I’ll take anything right now.

France does need some more snow.

And ideally soon.

Tuesday 8th January

Finally, some snow.

It’s only a dusting but it’s freshened the pistes up nicely.

The conditions on the marked runs are now the best they’ve been in ages.

We’d had a lot of response on social media from our friends in the mountains:

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