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Ski Touring, Cross Country & Snowshoeing Allowed in France

The lifts are set to be closed across Xmas and New Year but the authorities are allowing resorts to offer other forms of skiing and travelling in the snow. You just can’t use a lift.

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The French authorities will allow people to go cross-country skiing, ski touring and snowshoeing from Saturday – as long as it doesn’t prompt big gatherings of people.

Ski lifts are shut for lift-assisted downhill skiing and are set to remain so into the New Year, but some other forms of enjoying the snow are allowed.

On Thursday the Prime Minister confirmed that resorts could open and welcome guests, but their lifts had to remain shut down.

Resorts in France can open in December but lifts must remain shut

There is disappointment, but it has been done for the health of the nation rather than individual skiers and resorts, according to the authorities.

“Whatever the importance of the resorts it would not be prudent to allow very large flows of population to come together with activities likely to call upon hospital services,” said the Prime Minister,  Jean Castex.

Intensive care beds are becoming worryingly full in the Alps.

The ski areas have some of the highest levels of Covid-19 across France.

The resort of Les Menuires, in Les3Vallees, says it intends to open as planned on 15th December, albeit without the ski lifts running.

“Other activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, ski touring, cinemas and museums will be permitted,” said the resort to PlanetSKI.

Shops will be open but bars and restaurants stay closed, though take away and delivery are permitted.

Some other resorts are likely to follow suit and we will be reporting on other resorts as we receive the details.

We understand that the sports will not be allowed in Val d’Isere and Meribel as the local authorities  wish to ban winter sports before the holiday period, to ensure no accidents and increased pressure on already busy hospitals.

Ski touring

Ski touring. Photo credit – PlanetSKI

For those that like ski touring and cross-country skiing it will be welcome.

However it remains to be seen how many ‘holiday skiers’ will be interested and if it will just be the preserve of locals.

There are fewer cross-country skiing tracks in France compared to Austria and Switzerland, where there is also a long tradition of the sport.

Early season snow conditions at the moment are not favourable either, with cross-country routes mostly on the valley floor.

There is precious little snow as November ends, but that of course may change.

Ski touring and skinning uphill is another matter altogether – it is a boom sport and there is more snow at altitude.

Here at PlanetSKI we have been ski touring in France many a time.

Touring in Le Tour

Ski touring in Le Tour. Photo credit – PlanetSKI

And taken it to the next level.

Ski Touring: Just an Uphill Slog?

PlanetSKI goes ski touring

PlanetSKI goes ski touring. Photo credit – PlanetSKI

The news that at least these activities are allowed on snow will be welcome by many resorts in France.

See here for our earlier coverage on the subject of Xmas opening in France:

Cross-country skiing is a favourite of ours at PlanetSKI and a chance to get away from busy slopes.

Perhaps we’ll be doing more of it this winter.

You don’t have to be an expert.

PlanetSKI goes cross-country skiing

PlanetSKI goes cross-country skiing

PlanetSKI goes cross-country skiing. Photo credit – PlanetSKI

And yes we have stepped into snow shoes too.

Check out as we did a pretty decent hike in Park City in Utah, USA, last winter.

Snow shoeing in Utah

Snow shoeing in Utah. Photo credit – PlanetSKI

Snow shoeing in Utah

Snow shoeing in Utah. Photo credit – PlanetSKI

In North America resorts say there is growing interest in cross-country, or Nordic skiing, as a result of the pandemic.

Aspen in the USA reports a large increase.

The Canmore Nordic Centre, near Banff in Alberta Canada, reports a year-on-year rise in season ski passes.

The Centre has also seen 20% more people registering for its biathlon and cross-country skiing programs than last year.

Hire shops also predict there will be a rise in people renting the equipment.

And if you want to find out a bit about touring skis we have put the ones offered by Decathlon through their paces in a special ski test out in the French Alps.

PlanetSKI Puts Decathlon Touring Skis Through their paces

Touring skis from Decathlon

Touring skis from Decathlon. Photo credit – PlanetSKI

Or if you prefer to rent, Intersport has seen a sharp rise in interest in touring.

Our editor, James Cove, recently spoke to Thierry Durand from the Intersport shop in Argentiere about its rise in popularity:

James goes touring

James goes touring. Photo credit – PlanetSKI

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