British tour operators organising ski holidays to the French Alps, as well as representatives of French ski resorts themselves, have expressed surprise at recent reports in The Times and The Telegraph.
The reports both give the impression that skiing in the French Alps is currently highly dangerous. One of the reports describes French pistes as “death traps” and the other says that many slopes are closed because the snow surface is too hard and dangerous after a few weeks with no fresh snowfall.
(All images are from Val d’Isere in the past week)
“We’ve had a great Christmas and New Year in France, with strong booking figures, and this is partly down to the better snow conditions at this time of year, compared to in some previous years,” said Frankie Gibson of Inghams, adding, “We’re receiving reports from our staff and guests out in our French resorts that conditions are very good: there is a lot open, the cold temperatures make it brilliant for extra snowmaking and, unusual for this time of year are the beautiful, sunny blue skies, which many guests are thoroughly enjoying. In fact one of our Marketing Executives is out in La Rosiere at the moment and she’s just told me “absolutely cracking conditions!”
Nick Morgan, Managing Director of Le Ski, agreed, saying, “We do not recognise the snow situation as portrayed in these lazy articles and can only assume they are written by someone who has not recently skied in the French Alps resorts of Courchevel, La Tania and Val d’Isère where we operate 33 catered chalets. I was there last week and skied from Courchevel Moriond to St.Martin de Belleville and back with decent snow all the way. The 3 Valleys and Val d’Isère/Tignes ski areas have more than adequate snow cover all the way down to village level. More snow is forecast in the next few weeks and our advice as ever is to stay high.”
Several of the operators contacted pointed out that it’s not unusual, in fact completely normal, for there to be a few weeks without fresh snow in a resort and said that snowmaking and grooming refreshed piste surfaces overnight.
“In my opinion it has been a good start to the season. Over the festive period our guests enjoy our service, comfortable Chalets and great 3 Valleys piste skiing,” said long-time Meribel resident and Chairman and Founder of Meriski, Colin Mathews, who continued, “We have had no complaints about the conditions at all. It’s all about being prudent on the pistes especially when they are busy. I popped out yesterday and although some of the pistes are certainly hard packed they’re quite skiable and of course quiet now the holidays are over.”
The Winter Operations Manager for Neilson commented, “Overall, the snow on the slopes is hard packed but most resorts have areas that remain in good condition. The high-altitude resorts are of course maintaining better conditions. We are expecting a little snow in resorts on Wednesday and Saturday this week so hopefully, the conditions will improve.”
“The conditions are really good. The cover was good enough but then they put the cannons on for a couple of days and topped up the base and had it ready for when it snowed. We’ve had a little bit of snow in the last couple of days but more substantial snow is forecast from tomorrow for a few days,” confirmed Jono Carmichael owner of www.powdermates.com who lives in Manigod in the Aravis mountains.
“Our clients told us that they enjoyed the skiing and the sunshine. Personally, I think this will be old news by the middle of the week as fresh snow is now forecast and for our part we will be concentrating on the conditions going forward,” said Xavier Schouller, boss of specialist French ski tour operators Peak Retreats and Ski Collection.