French Ski Resorts Prepare for Xmas Without Lifts Running
17th December 2020
Last modified on December 21st, 2020
The lifts may not be running but hotels can open and ski touring, cross-country and snowshoeing are allowed. It’s all looking very different in these Covid-19 times.
The resort of Les2Alpes in the Isere region of the southern French Alps is welcoming welcome visitors from Saturday 19th December.
“They can come for a relaxing holiday in the mountains and enjoy an array of activities in the snow,” said the resort to PlanetSKI.
France is pretty much off limits to UK visitors due to quarantine regulations and sensible people may perhaps not want to travel at this time.
Potentially spreading the virus or exposing themselves to it.
It is though interesting to see how Les2Alpes, and other resorts, are reacting.
The slopes in Les2Alpes will be groomed and made safe from avalanches with as many activities on offer as the resort is able to do within all the Covid-19 restrictions.
The ski schools and Bureau des Guides will offer ski touring, snowshoeing, Nordic walking and mountain biking on snow.
Families can go sledging and children can have their first experience on skis in the kindergarden at the bottom of the slopes.
- Adult beginners can take ski lessons as well.
- Dog sledding is on offer
- Children aged between 4 and 10 can drive mini snowmobiles on a dedicated circuit.
- The cross-country skiing tracks will also be open.
Then there is ‘marche yogique’ a combination of walking in the snow and yoga moves.
Those looking for an adrenaline rush can try a tandem paragliding flight, ice climbing jump on a donut-style toboggan over a ramp and onto a big air crash mat.
Restaurants will be closed but they can offer take away meals and all the shops are open.
Hotels and residences offer discounted rates until the ski lifts can open.
The lockdown in France has ended and people seem to be trying to make the most of these difficult times.
The rental chain Intersport reports that there is a huge amount of local interest in touring skis, cross country skis and snowshoes – all activities that are allowed, despite the lifts not turning.
“Our stock of rental snow-shoes, backcountry touring skis, cross country skis, and even sledges, is really being stretched,” said the marketing director of Intersport, Chris Moran, to PlanetSKI.
“We’re meeting demand though and we should have more than enough for the Christmas and New Year weeks – if you can get to the mountains of course.”
Chamonix too is seeing a high level of interest, for what people can do in the mountains during the pandemic.
The ski lifts may not be turning but ski touring, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are allowed.
The areas around Chamonix report a huge increase in interest.
“60cm of fresh snow is good for boosting moral and sports shops are buzzing with customers collecting their gear,” said Claire Burnett from the Chamonix Tourist Office.
“To enjoy the powder it’s uphill first and, if the weekend is anything to go by, then ski touring and split-boarding are most definitely in vogue.
“At Le Tour it was very much a family affair as hundreds skinned (or hitched a ride) up to Charamillon and Balme along the designated ski touring itinerary.”
Here at PlanetSKI we know the area well and were touring there a couple of seasons ago.
The sport is becoming hugely popular.
And it is not just in the Chamonix Valley.
One of our regular readers from France is Nadine Chevalier who lives in the Isere region of the French Alps that we mentioned earlier.
“I did ski touring in Vercors and it was just amazing with sweet deep snow,” said Nadine.
And she sent us these pictures to prove her point.
However, we understand that some municipalities have banned it as it threatens extra pressure on already stretched hospitals through injury and accidents.
Back in Chamonix, cross-country pistes are open in Chamonix, Argentière and Vallorcine.
There are 44km of prepared trails and free night sessions every Thursday.
In the valley there are a number of winter hiking and snowshoeing trails, making a total of 40km for the entire valley.
Hidden gems such as Trélechamp, Les Granges, the Berard Waterfall, the Lac Vert, the Deer Path are a few of the backcountry spots.
With lockdown lifting hotels and self-catered accommodation are open for business, as too are shops, public services and markets.
Restaurants and bars remain shut.
Take-away, home delivery and private chefs are the new norm from many until the restaurants re-open in January.
The standard health recommendations remain in place, – physical distancing, hand-washing and avoiding kissing or handshakes, particularly with people in high-risk groups such as the elderly.
Anyone caught breaking the rules still in place faces a €135 fine.
Here at PlanetSKI we have decided not to head to the Alps from the UK at the moment, and we advise others to do the same until conditions allow.
“Keep safe, don’t be someone that helps the virus spread and wait until vaccines have been administered is our position,” said the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove.
“Skiing and snowboarding can wait and the mountains will be there next season.”
But we have many reporters and readers living in the Alps who will be keeping us informed of developments and reporting for us on what is on offer.
We heard from Chris Moran, the marketing director of Intersport, earlier.
He lives in Les3Vallees in France and has recently been out ski touring.
We’ll be posting a full account shortly so do check back.
The resorts in France are due to open on January 7th.
There are growing concerns that conditions will not be favourable to that happening, and here at PlanetSKI we expect delays as Covid-19 surges across Europe.
In the meantime, if we can’t head to the Alps from the UK we will keep you up to date with accurate and informed news on the situation.
As the resort of Chamonix said to us this week, “Congratulations for bringing the Alps to Britain whilst the Brits can’t come to the Alps.”
“Realistically we can only wait and see how things pan out” and congratulations of the number of people looking at PlanetSKI.
We have 20,000+ people per day looking at the web site and 450,000 in the last month alone.
For a full and detailed round up of the state of play in the ski nations of Europe see this earlier story on PlanetSKI that we posted at the beginning of the week.