Covid-19: What will France’s ski season look like?

Skiers will be able to ski without masks, but they will be required while on chairlifts, along with other restrictions.

23 October 2020
The ski season should go ahead this year, despite coronavirus case numbers rising in France
By Connexion journalist

Reader question: I am looking for information on what France’s ski season will be like this year with regards to coronavirus. How will ski lifts work? Will bars and shops at resorts be open? Will there be any catered chalets?

Certain big ski stations, such as Tignes and Les Deux-Alpes have already opened for this year’s ski season.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal has said that he expects the season to go ahead, despite concerns over the number of coronavirus cases rising around the country. 

Speaking on October 18, he said: "Today there are no plans at all for the stations to close. You can never exclude anything on principle, but today it is not planned.”

He added that if they should close, establishments should be willing to offer customers reimbursements. 

So, how will the ski season be different this year with coronavirus-related regulations in place?

François Badjily, director of the tourism office at l'Alpe d'Huez, admitted it would be complicated, but he was confident of having a normal season.

“We’ve put everything in place to reassure people: Barrier gestures in shops, ski stations, slopes etc.,” he told The Connexion.

Jean-Marc Silva, the director of France Montagnes, an association that groups French mountain tourism actors, agreed.

“Our mountains can handle the concerns that our clients have in terms of health well.

“We are convinced that the value of the mountains will match the expectations of people. People need to feel good, they need the mountain air.”

France Montagnes has released an infographic (see below), that explains the health protocols that will be in place this year. 

Skiing

Masks will not be mandatory while skiing. 

France Montagnes notes: The practice of snow sports is an outdoor activity, where the equipment (gloves, skis, poles...) favours barrier gestures. 

‘Remarkable’ early snowfall in French mountain ranges

Catered chalets

One big change is that there are likely to be fewer catered chalets this year. This is due to a combination of coronavirus and also Brexit. British staff are often employed to work in catered chalets but this year there are still doubts about how this will work, and the fact there is still no deal in place between the UK and the EU. 

However, certain tour operators will still offer this option. Robert Dixon, marketing manager for British ski holiday company Ski World, said they are still offering around 60 catered chalets for 2020-2021. 

Public transport

The rules on public transport for getting to the ski stations will remain the same as in the rest of the country. Masks will be mandatory. 

The Eurostar Ski Train, which usually runs between December and April and takes roughly 24,000 passengers per year directly from London to the Alps, will not be running this year.

Chairlifts 

Wearing a mask is compulsory while in queues and on the chairlifts. Chairlifts will be disinfected daily. 

Shops / rental shops

Wearing a mask will be mandatory and hydroalcoholic gel should be made available. All rental equipment should be regularly disinfected. 

Restaurants / bars

Bars and restaurants will, in theory, be open. However, in departments where there is a curfew in place, they will have to close by 21:00. 

Bars and restaurants will only be offering seated consumption, and masks will be mandatory when customers are moving around and not at the table. 

Accommodation

Masks will be mandatory when in a communal area. There are no extra requirements if you are in self-catered accommodation. 

Ski schools

Wearing a mask will be mandatory at the beginning and end of each lesson for instructors and anyone aged 11 and over.

Read more about the ski season:

French Alps Mont-Blanc firm releases Chamonix ski open dates

Cancellation of Eurostar Ski Train “big loss for skiers"

‘Remarkable’ early snowfall in French mountain ranges

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