Holidays are ending but France’s winter fun is hopefully just starting

Samantha David anticipates a busy ski season ahead – and you do not have to take to the slopes themselves to tap into the entertainment

Subsidised trips to ski resorts are often offered by schools and workplaces
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As the Christmas trees are stripped of their glitter and the tinsel is packed away, it’s tempting to give in to a gloomy day-after-the-party feeling.

It is easy to see only a vista of endless grey winter skies with no more bank holidays until Easter. But that’s a mistake.

Here in France, before you can say ‘snowman’, it’ll be the spring school holidays and time to go skiing.* Youpi!

Visitor numbers

The government has thoughtfully spread the dates of the holidays across February and March to avoid too much of a peak season on the peaks – if you’ll excuse the pun – which is a good thing because last season there were more than 30 million French ‘skier visits’ to the country’s ski resorts.

And that’s not counting another 14 million ‘skier visits’ by foreigners.

A ‘skier visit’ is a person who spends all or part of the day skiing at a resort. Pre-Covid the combined figures were around 55 million.

Read more: Updated: French ski resorts opening and closing dates 2022-2023

Cheese fondue and scenery

French ski resorts really are winter wonderlands, complete with twinkly lights and snow-covered slopes.

At high altitudes, it’s often beautifully sunny, and who said you actually have to ski?

Interestingly enough, statistics show that skiing is not always the main reason for squeezing into a ski suit.

Half of people aged 15-25 go skiing to enjoy the scenery. Another 8% said their main motivation was cheese fondue, with only 16% saying they wanted to learn to ski.

Other attractions

Resorts have cottoned on to this, offering all kinds of other attractions.

As well as the traditional hot chocolate and après-ski indulgences, you can explore a snow maze or build an igloo, ice skate under the stars, watch the ski slopes from an open-air Jacuzzi, go to the gym, or get a massage at the spa.

There are rides on dog sleds, horse-drawn carriages, and snowmobiles.

You can go swimming, watch a movie, or shop. There are also endless film and music festivals to enjoy, none of which require you to strap your feet on to a pair of slidey planks.

Skiing holidays are great for families, too, because resorts offer nursery facilities, and children of all ages can be enrolled in ski school – even tiny tots.

You can see them in crocodile formation scooting along behind their instructor on teeny-weeny little skis.

School and work trips

Seeing as this is France, schools organise subsidised ski trips, and in companies employing more than 50 people, so does the comité d’entreprise.

For those lucky employees, a skiing weekend including transport, accommodation, meals and ski passes can start at less than €100 per person.

People living within a couple of hours’ drive can take a coach and go skiing for the day with prices starting at around €50 for transport, a snack and a ski pass.

Ah yes, when you live in France, January is not the end of winter wonderland, but just a chance to draw breath and prepare for more glittering, sparkling winterland fun!

* Note that mild weather and rain over Christmas have severely disrupted France's ski resorts, particularly those located in low-lying mountains, with half of the country's slopes shut down at present

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