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Lac des Moutons, close to the Grand Col ski piste

Saturday, 26 April 2014

MEGEVE

Megeve is of course a very different beast to Les Arcs: a traditional village, much lower down, closer to  Mont Blanc, with mostly French visitors.

It is, apparently, France's first purpose-built ski resort, having been conceived in the 1920s as an alternative to St Moritz.

The resort has been in the news recently, following the arrest of British ski instructor Simon Butler earlier in the season.

For Tarentaise-bound skiers, it's a good option for a day's exploration on the way to or from Geneva.  There are various ski areas to choose from.  La Princesse gondola is deemed to be one of the most convenient, with a big car park just off the road from Sallanches. 

We missed the turning, however, and ended up at Rochebrune, just above the town. There is a handy car park there, with direct access to the pistes.  Although I wouldn't fancy my chances of getting a space there during peak holiday periods.

There's enough on Rochebrune to occupy yourself for a day - the runs are reasonably long, and the restaurants numerous.  We had a good welcome at La Babouche, where the prices (€19.90 for an entrecote frites) are a little higher than Tarentaise levels, but certainly not Courchevel-like.

No ski resort has bad views, but those in Megeve are, I think it's fair to say, some way above average:

The view from Rochebrune

LA PLAGNE: Bellecote can breathe again

Perso La Plagne reports that we now have some more clarity re the new lifts planned for the resort.

There is confirmation that the Colosses chairlift will be replaced for December 2014 by a new mega 8 person lift.  This should revolutionise Bellecote, currently a queue blackspot.

The new lift will take 4,400 skiers an hour, 400 more than the neighbouring lift, and 3,000 more than the current Colosses chair.  It will be "la plus efficace de France".

Two draglifts will be taken down, with one of them likely to find a new home in Plagne Soleil.

Meanwhile, the new Montalbert telecabine will have to wait until December 2015, in the wake of environmental concerns and the subsequent public enquiry.  More on the background to all this can be found here.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

BOURG ST MAURICE: Latest News

Following the local elections, Michel Giraudy is the new mayor, although it was hardly a landslide (or avalanche, as they say in these parts).

For a detailed briefing on the challenges the new mayor faces in developing the former chasseurs alpins army base, see the Ski Adventures site.

The parking set-up at the funiculaire remains a shambles.  It's basically cheaper now to park in resort.  So much for park & ride, environmental credentials, etc.  Let's see what happens next season.

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Here's the official blurb on Bourg St Maurice, via the Les Arcs website.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

NOT-SO-HAPPY EASTER: Late School Holidays

Update 4 May 2013: 

Easter Monday's Le Dauphiné says there has been a 70% fall in the number of skiers present in resorts during the spring holidays - and they now represent just 2% of the total ski season.

Things were slightly better than last year, due to the timing of the Paris school holidays, apparently.

Some 50/300 resorts were open over Easter - with 1.6m on average at the top of the mountain.  

For season 2014/15, things may not be quite as bad, given that Easter is earlier, but it's clearly THE time to go for cheap deals.

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It may not have quite been a bumper season, but snow depths are holding up well for mid April.

Only problem is, France isn't on holiday yet.

Easter has never been a peak time for skiing, but recent changes to the school holiday calendar mean that the first tranche of holidays don't even start until this weekend.

And Zone A will have to wait until 26th April, the day Les Arcs closes.

The French ski resort association is really, really unhappy about this.  It, together with representatives of the seasonal workers, has been campaigning for a reform ever since the calendar changed in 2010.  Although they have been successful in achieving a small change to the Christmas holiday dates for 2016-17, the problem remains.  "To wait until 2015 for a more profound reform, it's just too long."


For more on French school holidays click here

According to their press release, skiers numbers during April are down 10-20%, and jobs are on the line.  "This benefits neither the mountain nor the coastal resorts".

Meanwhile, the only hope for Zone A skiers seems to be Val d'Isere (open until 4 May), Tignes and Val Thorens (open until 11 May).  A full guide to closure dates can be found here.

Too late: only 3 resorts will be open for the Zone A holidays

Saturday, 5 April 2014

ANOTHER VIEW ON LES ARCS: Ski Adventures

I've only just spotted this gem of a blog about Les Arcs, run by the Ski Adventures team.

Ski Adventures run two chalets below Arc 1600 (at Courbaton and Les Granges), and the blog gives us a running commentary on some of the big issues facing the resort.

For example:


For more, follow Ski Adventures on Twitter.