French ski resorts say they are still hoping to influence the government’s position after President Emmanuel Macron announced that resorts in the country are unlikely to open for Christmas.
A final decision is expected in the coming days, but Macron said he favours reopening in January under good conditions and that he would like to coordinate with the rest of Europe on this issue.
On Thursday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex tried to clarify the situation, by stating that whilst resorts can open at Christmas and New Year, ski lifts would remain closed.
“Of course, it will be open to everyone (…) to go to these resorts to enjoy the pure air of our beautiful mountains, the shops – excluding bars and restaurants – which will be open. Simply, all the ski lifts and public utilities will be closed to the public,” the Prime Minister said at a press conference on Thursday morning.
It’s possible this may lead to a rise in the popularity of ski-touring this season (where instead of using ski lifts you go uphill using ‘skins’, a piece of fabric attached to the base of skis to prevent them from sliding back. Before skiing downhill with skins removed), but resorts such as Morzine and Avoriaz have already been making plans.
“We are obviously saddened by this news, but village resorts such as Morzine have a lot to offer as well as lift-assisted skiing,” Morzine and Avoriaz Tourist Office director, Christophe Mugnier, told Euronews.
“We are currently working on what we can offer to clients who wish to come despite the likely lift closure. Plenty of activities in the fresh open air are still available, a wide range of boutiques and our restaurants have already adapted to offer takeaway meals.”
For many in the ski industry and officials from the regions concerned, there is “no credible reason not to reopen” from the Christmas holidays, which represent between 20 and 25 percent of their revenues.
For the Mayor of the Courchevel, Jean-Yves Pachod, the decision to not open lifts until January is a bombshell.
“It’s a disaster for us. A catastrophe,” he told Euronews. “That’s why since this morning we’ve been stepping up. Because we’ve done everything, everything is in place for the opening.”
“For example in Courchevel, we have our own test laboratory and we are able to test 500 people a day – we are capable of