How are the Covid-19 Rules Being Interpreted in French Ski Resorts?

It is a complex yet simple situation in reality out in the mountains. PlanetSKI has reporters in Les3Vallees and Les Arcs in the Paradiski area this final week of people from the UK being able to ski in France. NEW

PlanetSKI’s Chris Moran and Tashie Cove are out in the resorts seeing for themselves what it is like in resort and up on the slopes in these Covid-19 times.

They have skied in La Tania, Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens and Les Menuires in Les3Vallees + all the resorts in the Les Arcs sector of Paradiski.

Here are the official Covid-19 rules as detailed on the web site of Les Menuires.

Val Thorens, Image c/o Chris Moran/PlanetSKI

Chris Moran, Val Thorens. Image c/o Chris Moran/PlanetSKI

Tashie Cove, Les Menuires. Image © PlanetSKI

Tashie Cove, Les Menuires. Image © PlanetSKI

It is the final week for people from the UK being able to ski and snowboard in France  as the French government announced tough new entry requirements that come into force on Saturday 18th December.

Words, Tashie Cove and Chris Moran.

With plenty of myths flying around we are looking at the reality on the ground for skiers and snowboarders – children and adults.

A Pass Sanitaire or Covid pass QR code is required to ski.

The French government has said that all children between 12 and 17 without a pass must take a Covid test every 24-hours in order to ski on the mountain.

Chris went to the pharmacy in Bozel on the way up to Courchevel where self-tests are available.

The general consensus is that if you bring your own daily tests then that would work, but “official confirmation was hard to come by,” said Chris.

In terms of buying a lift pass only a small number of people are actually checked for their Health Pass.

Chris bought 5 lift passes on Saturday for his group – only one person was asked for their QR code.

Buying a lift pass. Image © PlanetSKI

Buying a lift pass. Image © PlanetSKI

The NHS app works fine and is completely valid for this, as is a printed out QR code.

The reality is that few people seem to be asked for their QR code.

There is a myth that this situation is somehow political and that the French people are trying to frustrate the Brits.

Talking to the tourism office in Courchevel, it seems that they dislike these regulations.

They want British people to come skiing and they really want Brits with kids to come skiing and they are working to make this a reality.

There is some hope for later in the season as we have reported elsewhere on PlanetSKI.

Once on the mountain there are restrictions in place, but none of them stop the enjoyment of simply being back on snow.

PlanetSKI in the powder. Image © PlanetSKI

Tashie in the powder. Image © PlanetSKI

Tashie reports from Les Menuires that there are plenty of signs to inform people of the rules.

Covid-19 rules for ski Covid-19 rules for ski slopes.Image © PlanetSKI

Covid-19 rules for ski slopes.Image © PlanetSKI

Some people are observing the rules and see them as a necessary evil, while others are ignoring them wherever they can as they think they are unnecessary.

People make their choice, and we make ours.

Sanitizer is available in many locations.

Les Menuires. Image © PlanetSKI

Les Menuires. Image © PlanetSKI

In Les Menuires, Tashie and her group were checked for valid Health Passes on Wednesday.

Image © PlanetSKI

Checking Health Pass. Image © PlanetSKI

It was a simple procedure and the official was doing random sport checks as they are required to do.

Over in Les Arcs at the bottom of the ski area there were self-service machines for passes, where a health pass was not required to be scanned in order to purchase a lift ticket.

According to Chris in Les Arcs 1650 there was a person checking Health Passes but he was checking perhaps one in every 20 people.

One of our readers in Les Arcs last weekend was checked.

Arc1950. Image c/o VIP SKI

Arc1950. Image c/o VIP SKI

In Courchevel last Saturday there was one person checking QR codes at the bottom of the gondola up to Courchevel 1850.

This person checked every 15 to 20 people because the queue was so long, and most people were simply filing past him.

There was no-one checking on the actual gondola or at the top.

We spoke with resort staff around the lift and they confirmed that they would not be checking children’s QR codes because of the logistical difficulties.

So, what happens if your phone runs out of battery?

This has happened to some people and Chris was told they have said “Sorry, I can’t show you the pass because I’ve run out of battery, but my pass was checked earlier and I produced it to buy a lift pass.”

It seems that the person checking accepts this as a valid reason for not being able to produce a Health Pass.

Official this is not the case as the rules state “Not having a battery will not be an acceptable argument at the controls.” The rules advise all people to carry a paper version.

Bars and restaurants on the slopes are open.

“In the past few days every restaurant has asked for a pass, but on the first few days they didn’t,” said Tashie on Thursday,

Tashie visited the Folie Douce in Val Thorens.

It looked busy at first glance, but in reality people are keeping a distance, and they are outside.

La Folie Douce. Image © PlanetSKI

La Folie Douce. Image © PlanetSKI

Chris went to eat at a restaurant in La Tania and the restaurant owner confirmed that they would not be asking any children for proof of certificates, because logistically it just wouldn’t work.

So, what about masks?

They are needed in lift queues and on gondolas and cable cars, but not on chairlifts or T-bars.

Lift queue in Courchevel. Image © PlanetSKI

Lift queue in Courchevel. Image © PlanetSKI

In Courchevel neck-warmers seem to be accepted as a valid mask.

Chris says that at a rough estimate 60% of the people in a lift queue in Courchevel wore their masks all the way to the gondola.

Some people took them off in the gondolas and others made themselves more comfortable.

Gondola in Courchevel. Image © PlanetSKI

Gondola in Courchevel. Image © PlanetSKI

Masks are required indoors in most settings in ski resorts.

Outside it is just a matter of social distancing.

Image © PlanetSKI

Tashie & her ski guide. Image © PlanetSKI

In the resorts themselves the Health Pass is required in shops, bars, restaurants and ski hire outlets.

Masks are pretty much compulsory in all indoor settings.

So, what about getting tested to come back to the UK?

Currently it can be a lateral flow or PCR test.

In Courchevel it seems there are only three possible test centres available.

There are perhaps not enough testing kits to deal with the potential of having all children, and all travellers heading back to the UK, sufficiently tested.

Tashie has booked her test for this Friday in Les Menuires and we’ll be letting you know how that goes.

In the meantime it is a matter of following the rules.

They really don’t get in the way of having a fabulous time back on the snow and there is certainly some interpretation of them on the ground.

The powder remains as good as ever, Covid-19 rules or not.

PlanetSKI in the powder. Image © PlanetSKI

PlanetSKI in the powder. Image © PlanetSKI

Les3Vallees. Image © PlanetSKI

Les3Vallees. Image © PlanetSKI

We do our very best at PlanetSKI to ensure the information provided here is as complete and up-to-date as possible. However, please be aware that we assume no liability in this respect. Information provided by PlanetSKI should be checked with the official information provided by the authorities. The situation regarding travel warnings and local rules changes quickly.

Image © PlanetSKI