Bad news for skiers and snowboarders: Several of France’s biggest ski resorts have delayed their opening as the French Alps suffer from a lack of early season snow. The early snow that fell in November has since melted as temperatures recently rose.
Méribel and Courchevel, both part of the renowned Trois Vallées ski area, were due to open on Saturday, December 6th, but will remain closed till Saturday, December 13th. Meanwhile, Les Menuires, part of the same ski area, has also postponed its opening to next weekend; Montgenevre, which is situated further south by Italy, has postponed its seasonal launch indefinitely.
“We opened on the weekend of November 22nd. Then the rain and thaw damaged the snow at the bottom of the slopes,” said a spokeswoman for Montgenevre.
According to the National Weather Service, the area boasts less than average amounts of snow – below 2,000m – for this time of year. But as winter imminently approaches, the Alps are subsequently getting colder and fresh snowfall is now expected by the end of the week.
“S3V [the ski area’s lift company] teams are doing their best to ensure artificial snowmaking will be added to the expected snowfall this weekend,” said a spokesperson for Courchevel.
In the southwestern Pyrenees mountain range, resorts like Grand Tourmalet are also considering pushing back their official openings due to a lack of snow, Jean Canal, head of the local tourist office, reported to France’s The Local. On the other hand, Serre Chevalier, also in the south, is set to open as planned this weekend with 70cm of base at 2,735m.
A spokesperson for Atout France, which promotes tourism to France, said: “The delayed openings should not impact upon the UK market too heavily with most tour operators starting their seasons next weekend. With more snow in the forecast, there’s plenty of time for the resorts to morph from green to white in time for the UK ski holiday season proper to get underway.”
Val Thorens – the highest resort in Europe – currently has half its lifts open and a quarter of its pistes, with 80cm of snow at 3,200m.