POLICE closed the snow gates on the road to Andorra after 60cm to 90cm fell in several hours across the Pyrénées; with Ariège bearing the brunt.
Heavy rains also played a part with 11.2cm at Lavelanet in 24 hours but villagers in Haute-Ariège were surprised to wake to find a cover of around 60cm of heavy wet snow.
In Hospitalet it reached 90cm in places and sparked an avalanche alert as well as the road closure. Several roads were also closed by branches which snapped under the weight of snow and this also led to some power cuts.
The department was placed on orange alert by Météo France for flooding and heavy snow but there were no reported incidents despite heavier river flows. More snow is expected at the end of this week.
It was a late-season boost for skiers with the Massif du Pilat reporting one metre of snow above 1,000m and the Pyrénées Ariégeoise and Orientales reporting one metre of snow above 1,600m.
In the Alps, ski stations reported new snow cover after a mild March, reaching 50cm in some sectors above 1,600m and 1.75m in higher areas.
With the spring holidays in full swing, many resorts, particularly in the north, are offering big discounts in the final days of the season.
Savoie Mont-Blanc promotions manager Vincent Rolland told 20 Minutes conditions were ideal, especially for youngsters. "There's plenty of snow and it's not cold. They can move on to pistes that are less busy than in winter."
At Chamrousse (Isère) skiers are being tempted with a one euro skipass on the day of the first round of voting in the presidential election, Sunday April 22. It will be available for those presenting their stamped carte d'electeur.
Photo: Val Thorens ski station webcam