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French ski stations celebrate snowfall: Opening dates and rules

After a dry October, this week’s snowfall is expected to stick and comes days before some stations open for the season. A decision on health pass rules is now awaited

Many ski stations plan to open in the coming weeks. Ski lifts have been closed to the general public for two years due to the health crisis Pic: Olga Gavrilova / Shutterstock

The first snowfall arrived in southwest France last night (November 2) after an area of low pressure brought cool temperatures and precipitation to Haute-Garonne.

Today (November 3) at altitudes over 1,500 metres, wet weather is forecast to turn into snowfall of 10-20cm, increasing to 25-30cm in Béarn and Bigorre.

This could be accompanied by more snowfall at heights of 1,200 metres by Friday although forecaster Météo Pyrénées said quantities would be low.

Snow is also forecast in the Alps this week with depths of 40-50cm at 1,800 metres.

The Auron ski station Berchia webcam, at an altitude of 2,219 metres, showed a blanket of white covering the ground this morning.

Pic: Auron ski station Berchia webcam / Screenshot

This has been greeted as good news by winter sports enthusiasts after an unusually dry October with little mountain snowfall in France.

Light snowfall in the past few weeks has not lasted and depths of 30-50cm have only been recorded at altitudes of around 3,000 metres.

But the change in weather conditions this week is expected to stick with snow forecast to reach depths of 1.5 metres at 3,000 metres’ altitude, and up to 1 metre at 2,000-2,500 metres’ altitude in the Alps by the end of the week.

Snowfall is expected to continue through November, meaning good conditions for skiers as ski stations reopen in the coming weeks.

After two years of ski lift closures for the general public due to the health crisis, the 2021-22 French ski season is eagerly awaited by winter sports fans.

Ski station operators are still waiting to find out whether or not skiers will need to show health passes to use ski lifts this winter.

A decision from the government is planned for early November, Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne told France Bleu.

Current rules specify that health passes must be shown for access to some spaces in ski stations, such as bars and restaurants.

At ski stations that are already open or that will open soon, current rules specify that skiers must distance from each other while waiting in queues, but do not have to wear masks while outside.

There are currently no limits relating to the health crisis for the number of skiers that can use stations at one time.

Which ski stations will open in November and December?

Here are the opening dates for some popular ski stations in France:

November 6

Bessans (Nordic walking), Montgenèvre

November 20

Val Thorens, Chamonix

November 27

Les Angles, Auron, Cauterets, Chabanon, Tignes, Les Deux-Alpes, Grand Tourmalet, Puy Saint Vincent, Val d’Isère

December 3

Font Romeu, Gourette

December 4

L’Alpe d’Huez, La Bresse, Chamrousse, Courchevel, Font Romeu, Isola 2000, Luz Ardiden, Les Menuires, Méribel, Montclar, Orelle, Peyragudes, Piau Engaly, Saint-Lary Soulan, Serre Chevalier, Vaujany

December 10

Avoriaz, Ax-les-Thermes 

December 11

Aussois, Les Arcs, Brides-les-Bains, La Féclaz, Le Grand Bornand, Peisey-Vallandry, Orcières Merlette 1850, Les Orres, La Plagne, Risoul, Le Revard, La Rosière, Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, Super Besse, La Tania, Val d’Allos, Valberg, Vars

December 18

Aillons-Margeriaz, Bessans (alpine skiing), Albiez-Montrond, Arêches-Beaufort, Bonneval-sur-Arc, Les Bottières, Champagny, Le Corbier, Crest-Voland Cohennoz, Le Désert d’Entremont, Flumet/Saint-Nicolas-la-Chapelle, La Giettaz, Le Granier, Hauteluce-Les Contamines, Les Karellis, Le Lioran, Megève, Montchavin, Montalbert, Montclar, La Norma, Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe, Pralognan-la-Vanoise, Saint-Colomban-des-Villards, Saint-François-Longchamp, Saint-Jean-d’Arves, Saint-Sorlin-d’Arves, Les Saisies, La Toussuire, Val Cenis, Valfréjus, Valloire, Valmeinier, Valmorel

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