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France Now Open to British Skiers & Snowboarders

Travellers from the UK are now welcome in France. It’s a huge relief to the UK ski industry. The decision was announced by the French tourism minister in a tweet. There are still some restrictions in place but it means the remainder of the season looks set to go ahead. UPDATED

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The borders opened to vaccinated travellers from the UK on Friday.

The news was announced on Thursday morning from the French government.

– People do not need an essential reason for travel.

– Travellers will not be required to self-isolate on arrival in France from the UK from Friday 14th if they are fully vaccinated.

– People must produce a negative anti-gen or PCR test taken no longer than 24 hours before travel.

– Unvaccinated adult travellers (or those without a full schedule of approved vaccines) must provide a compelling reason to travel, must complete the passenger EOS form prior to travel and then self-isolate for 10-days on arrival in France.

“We are relaxing the entry conditions in France from UK for vaccinated travelers. end of compelling reasons and isolation on arrival a negative test < 24h will be requested at the start The decree will be published tomorrow morning, with immediate entry into force,” said the French tourism minister, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, on Twitter on Thursday.

The French Prime Minister, Jean Castex,  said the easing of restrictions is because of the ‘predominance of the Omicron variant in both France and the United Kingdom.’

Vaccinated travellers no longer need a compelling reason to enter France or self-isolate when they arrive.

However a negative Covid-19 test, taken 24-hours before leaving the UK, will be required.

The move has been immediately welcomed by ski resorts in France.

“This is the news that we were waiting for since December,” said Vincent Lalanne the director of  the tourist office in Val Thorens as PlanetSKI told him the news.

“We’re so happy to finally welcome back our UK clients, we hope we will see them as soon as this weekend, as the snow conditions are currently exceptional.”

“We are really relieved that this ban is finally being lifted,’ said Sara Burdon from the Morzine tourist office.

“It’s been a long ttme coming and Morzine is ready to welcome back British skiers. We’ve missed you!”

Ski Nyon - credit Domaine Skiable de Morzine

Ski Nyon – credit Domaine Skiable de Morzine

The rental company, Intersport, that has shops across the Alps and the Pyrenees, reports a surge in bookings.

“We are obviously so happy that the French border is now back open, which will give quite a lot of certainty to people whose holidays fall in the rest of January and the remainder of the season,” said the international marketing manager of Intersport, Chris Moran.

“We just hope that this is the end of the travel chaos for both the stress it’s placed on our customers, the uncertainty for our shops, and our own customer service team’s sanity.

“We’ve been talking to thousands of our customers through social media and our customer service platforms and we want to thank everybody for their patience in refunds, or bookings moved to other resorts or other countries.

“Some poor customers have had to move several times and it’s been a headache for us all, but we’ve stuck together and made it work.”

Image c/o Intersport

The change from the French government comes as no great surprise and had been predicted widely in the last few days.

“I confirm that a further easing of the restrictions with the UK will be announced in the coming days. Work is continuing, I hope that the announcement can be made by the end of the week,” said the French government spokesman, Gabriel Attal, on Wednesday 12th January.

He was speaking to the press after the weekly cabinet meeting.

Here at PlanetSKI we have already booked our Eurotunnel crossing for Sunday 16th January and will be heading across France.

We will be based in the Aosta Valley in Italy until the end of February, and will be heading back through the Mont Blanc tunnel to spend time skiing in France.

“We are absolutely delighted to now be preparing for both our Inghams, and Esprit ski holidays to France to recommence from Saturday 22 January 2022,” said the CEO of Hotelplan UK that runs the two companies, Joe Ponte.

“With France being our key Esprit family holiday destination and normally accounting for around a third of Inghams’ winter programme—the French government’s latest update means, finally, the many skiers and snowboarders hoping to enjoy the French slopes with us this winter will be able to do so.

“While we are of course continuing to monitor the situation closely, we’re thrilled for all those now able to look forward to their French ski holiday again and our in-resort teams are excited to welcome guests back to France.

“Super news that UK skiers and boarders can hit the French slopes again,” said the director of All Chalets, Sean O’Leary.

“It’s a welcome relief for the many customers already booked to travel in February and March.

“With excellent snow conditions right across the Alps, we expect strong demand for ski holidays over the next few weeks,” Sean added.

“At last, France reopens for British travellers from Friday,” said the MD of Ski Solutions, Craig Burton.

“Whilst we cannot undo the enormous damage done to the wintersports industry from this entirely illogical closure, it doesn’t stop us jumping for joy that it has been overturned.

“Conditions are fantastic across the Alps right now, and we are delighted we can get our skiers and boarders out to enjoy the French mountains once again.”

SNO has also welcomed the move, but with a note of caution.

“Skiers are jumping at the chance to get back out to France from tomorrow,” said the MD of SNO, Richard Sinclair.

“The only cautionary note today is that there are still unknowns regarding testing, which we may not know until tomorrow, as I’m told they’re still being discussed.

“The best we can hope for is a return to normal rules that other nations must follow from Saturday, which say that everyone aged 12+ must have two jabs.

“Teens can’t rely on one jab plus a test anymore, to get the Pass Sanitaire required for ski lifts, restaurants and other public places,” added Richard.

Jet2 announced it was resuming flights to French ski destinations.

“This is the positive news that skiers and snowboarders have been looking forward to, and the spike in bookings for ski flights has been both sharp and immediate,” it said in a statement.

There has been further reaction from readers on the PlanetSKI Facebook page.

Tracey Hill – I cannot say how excited we are to be able to visit our second home in France again. We have so missed being out there and of course our skiing…already booked for a couple of weeks time and then Easter…YIPPEE.

Freddie Webb – Great news, however rather annoying after I recently moved my trip in 2 weeks to Italy. Should’ve held! Oh well, saved money! Always next year!

Leigh-Anne Davidson – Best news!!!

Susie Sukes – Not boosted so a no for my lot.. USA here we come.

John Barnfield – Too late for us sadly but glad for all the companies, ski instructors, guides who lost a fortune. So sad this season has been ruined for so many people. We had our holiday to La Plagne cancelled and fly to Austria now the day the French restrictions change meant that we could have gone on our original holiday. Politics and skiing should not mix as I suspect Macron will find in the next elections. Glad others will now get their planned hols though.

France

France. Image © PlanetSKI.

There was an easing in the rules last week for travelling to France for those with essential work reasons.

It is defined as “Missions necessary for the pursuit of an economic activity requiring an on-site presence (which cannot be postponed)”.

Under the current rules travellers with essential reasons coming from the UK also have to quarantine at home for ten days.

This can be shortened to 48-hours after a negative test.

This requirement is now going for fully vaccinated travellers.

Vaccine passports remain needed to use the lifts and slopes in French ski resorts.

They are also required at restaurants, bars and leisure facilities.

Now the ban is to be lifted there is some hope to salvage the winter season for UK skiers and snowboarders.

“Thousands of people head there for ski breaks at this time of year, so this will be a huge relief for customers with holidays booked there for the next few weeks, who have been waiting anxiously for news,” said ABTA.

“We are still waiting for more details from the French government on entry requirements such as the rules that will apply for children.

“Travellers should continue to monitor the Foreign Office travel advice,” ABTA added.

“The last few weeks have been very challenging for the ski industry, said the CEO of Travelski Express, Guillaume de Marcillac.

“However, we are now finally looking forward to the departure of the very first Travelski Express, offering our guests a safe, convenient and great value break in clean mountain air.”

Travelski Express. Image © Eurostar

Image © Eurostar

The French travel ban ending has lead to a 300% rise in ski instructor bookings already for Maison Sport.

Ski instructor marketplace enjoyed a record day of sales on Wednesday and expects surge in demand from British snow sports fans from now until the end of the season

“This is more welcome news at long last for the industry, particularly for the many local instructors who have been incredibly frustrated by the protracted lifting of the border restrictions,” said the CEO and founder of Maison Sport, Nick Robinson.

“Morzine has been particularly affected, with large numbers of instructors facing the prospect of no bookings for the next few weeks.

“It may be a case of from rags to riches for many instructors now as we expect an unprecedented surge of bookings from now until the end of the season, as the majority of customers have been holding off as they waited for this news before confirming lessons.”

“Given the commercial ski season runs from mid December to mid April, we’ve only lost a quarter of the French season,” said one UK ski operator to PlanetSKI.

Tashie Cove, Les Menuires. Image © PlanetSKI

PlanetSKI in Les Menuires, France. Image © PlanetSKI

The travel ban was introduced on December 18th and has had a significant impact on the start of the season for many resorts in France that rely on British visitors.

It had a devastating impact on skiing in places as PlanetSKI reported direct from the French Alps at the time.

Some saw the ban as more of a political move.

“We have the impression that our industry is being made to pay the price for the poor relations between both countries right now, whether it’s about Brexit or fishing or whatever,’  said the head of the Alpe d’Huez tourist office, Francois Badjily.

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Image © PlanetSKI

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