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Watch: Snow and ski joy in Paris as mountain lifts stay shut

Residents in Ile-de-France took to skis and sledges in the city, on the same weekend as ski teachers protested in solidarity against ongoing mountain closures

17 January 2021
By Hannah Thompson

Snow has brought “happiness and laughter” to Paris as residents took to sledges and skis after a rare snowfall in Ile-de-France this weekend - but official ski stations in France still remain closed.

Snow fell in Paris and surrounding areas just before lunchtime yesterday, causing residents to flock outside to enjoy the novelty before the 18:00 curfew.

(Photo: Yartaoui35 / @yartaoui35 / Twitter)

Residents skied and sledded next to the Eiffel Tower, the Valbon park, and the famous hill of Montmartre - whose funicular train is still in operation, in contrast to ski lifts in mountain stations, which remain closed due to Covid-19.

One Twitter user said: “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen people so happy, laughing, photographing - and the children all excited and throwing snowballs! Thank you to the winter and the sky for making this 18:00 curfew and Covid-19 time happier!”

Snow also fell across much of the north and centre of the country, including in Seine-Maritime, and Pas-de-Calais.

In recent days, snow has fallen mainly in the east of the country, but at the time of writing, no serious weather alerts are in place from forecaster Météo France.

Yesterday, Météo France had placed 32 departments in the north and centre of the country on orange alert for snow, but this has now been lifted.

Much of the east and south of the country remain on “yellow” alert (medium-low) for wind, snow, and flooding - but no severe warnings are being issued at this time.

 

Ski stations unite

(Photo: Martial SADDIER / @MartialSaddier / Twitter)

Even as residents across the country enjoy rare city snowfall, workers in mountain ski stations are still waiting to see if they might be able to reopen before the end of the winter season.

Yesterday, ski teachers at national ski school l'Ecole de Ski Français (ESF) organised a “torch descent” - in which teachers lined up to ski down a mountain while holding glowing torches - in a show of solidarity, to “not let the flames of the mountain go out”.

The ESF descents happened in all French ski stations at 17:30.

The goal of the action was to send a clear message of support to all mountain workers, and also to remind the government that workers are still calling for an update on whether ski stations will be allowed to open before the end of the season.

No members of the public were present at the action due to Covid-19, but images began to be published on social media at around 18:00 last night.

National ski teachers’ union, le SNMSF (Syndicat national des moniteurs du ski français); national mountain mayor association l’ANMSM (Association Nationale des Maires des Stations de Montagne) and the ski station group DSF (Domaines Skiables de France) have called for a meeting with Prime Minister Jean Castex on January 19.

They are set to demand more clarity and the reopening of ski fields, “depending on the departmental situation” of the Covid epidemic.

Currently, all ski lifts remain closed to the public, with the exception of essential workers and local ski schools.

The next official government meeting - a defence council meeting - to discuss Covid-19 measures is scheduled for January 20.

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