Highest ski station in Pyrénées-Orientales to close

Investors had sought to diversify activities but a lack of snow in 2022 ended the plans

A view of the Luchon Superbagnères ski station in the French Pyrenees, with a lack of snow
Ski stations in the French Pyrenees have struggled with a lack of snow in recent years, even at high altitudes - like Puigmal, and this one at Luchon Superbagnères (Occitanie)
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The highest ski station in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France is to close.

A bid from investors to diversify its offerings to make it an attractive destination no matter the weather or level of snowfall appears to have failed.

The Puigmal station in Pyrénées-Orientales peaks at 2,700 metres. It is managed by the Puigmal 2900 association, made up of six investors.

This week it was placed in judicial liquidation by the business tribunal in Perpignan.

The station closed to the public in 2013 due to a debt of €9.2 million. The investors bought it in 2021 with the intention of turning around its fortunes. This included plans to attract visitors whatever the weather.

Ski stations are increasingly struggling due to a lack of snow.

Read more: Climate change: Snow disappearing from Alps, France included

The station struggled after a cable car broke in 2021 and there was a significant lack of snow in 2022.

After the liquidation decision, one of the investors, Eric Matzner-Lober, said: “It is the end of the story; we have no idea what will happen now.”

Isidore Payrato, the mayor of Err - the town to which the station belongs - said: “It is heartbreaking because it is a site which represents a certain amount of economic activity for the area.”

There are four full-time employees and 30 extra seasonal workers every winter. It will now be for the town to decide on the future of the station and whether to search for new investors.

It comes as ski stations in France are planning reopening dates, amid a difficult time for the industry due to a lack of snow and difficult economic conditions, together with continuing issues with visitor numbers following the Covid-19 slump.

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