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TRAVELLING TO FRANCE

What are the rules in French ski resorts for the February holidays?

During the February school holidays many will be considering a ski holiday in France.

Skiers in France no longer need to wear masks to use lifts.
Skiers in France no longer need to wear masks. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

Travel

If you’re coming from outside France, you first need to know if the border is open to you.

France operates a traffic light system of travel.

If you are coming from a green country you can travel for any reason. Fully vaccinated people need only proof of vaccination at the border, while unvaccinated people also need a negative Covid test. Green countries include all EU and Schengen zone countries and New Zealand.

If you’re coming from an orange or red country, you can only travel for a ski holiday (which is classed as non-essential for travel purposes, no matter how much you have missed whizzing down the slopes) if you are vaccinated. This covers the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA. Negative Covid tests are no longer required for fully-vaccinated travellers.

Find the full explanation on travel rules here.

Resort rules

Masks – the government has decreed that masks are no longer compulsory in the queues for ski lifts, on the lifts themselves or during your descent down the slopes.

Some local authorities may have their own rules in place, so it is worth enquiring with your resort. 

Queuing 

Resorts will likely make more space available for queuing to try to maintain social distancing measures between those waiting in line.

Vaccine pass – the vaccine pass is required to access ski lifts, as well as many other venues.

Ski resort chiefs say that in general, people will be asked to show the pass at the moment they buy the ski pass for the resort. Random checks will also be carried out at lifts and cable cars.

Children

If your children are aged between 12 years and two months and 15 years, then they will need a health pass to access venues like bars, cafés and ski lifts.

Slightly different to the vaccine pass, the health pass requires one of three things; proof of full Covid vaccination, proof of recent recovery from Covid or a negative Covid test taken within the previous 24 hours.

‘Full vaccination’ here means two doses of either Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson. A single dose of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca is not accepted as full vaccination and kids who have only had one dose will have to follow the rules for unvaccinated people. The child must be at least seven days after their second dose.

If the child is not fully vaccinated by French standards, they face taking a Covid test every 24 hours in order to maintain the pass – at a cost of up to €22 a time for antigen tests – or avoiding using ski lifts while on holiday.

Children aged 16 to 18 require a vaccine pass, with no option for testing for those who are not fully vaccinated.

Under 12s do not require any type of pass.

Full details HERE for children.

National rules

Ski resorts are of course also covered by the nationwide French health rules, as well as those specific to skiing.

Masks – masks are required in all indoor public spaces and on all public transport until February 28th, after which they will no longer be required in vaccine pass venues (bars, cafés etc) but will still be compulsory on public transport and in shops. There are no exemptions to the mask rules in France and failure to wear one correctly can net you a €135 fine.

Bars and restaurants – Unlike last winter bars and restaurants are open in France and there are no capacity limits placed on them. Nightclubs reopened on February 16th and bars are also now permitted to offer standing space, as opposed to table service only. Dancing in bars is again allowed.

Vaccine pass – the vaccine pass is required to enter a wide range of venues including cafés, bars, restaurants, leisure centres and long-distance train travel – full details here

Visitors from the UK and EU can use the QR code on their vaccination certificate to access the health pass via the TousAntiCovid app, but other non-EU visitors need to acquire a European code – find out how here.

Booster shots

Depending on when you had your vaccine, you may also need a booster in order to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ – full details here.

Other restrictions – ski businesses have been very hard hit by first the early end of the 2019/20 season and then the cancellation of most of the 2020/21 season, so are desperate to remain open throughout this season.

Some have therefore imposed their own extra restrictions in the hope of keeping case numbers down, from limitations on group size to extra cleaning protocols, so make sure you check in advance the conditions of stay in accommodation. 

Member comments

  1. I am in a French ski resort at the moment and the use and enforcement of use of masks and the checking of health passes has been very erratic. We are based a Orelle in the Maurienne Valley and whilst we mainly ski the Trois Vallees we have away days at other resorts. The staff at the gondola have checked our passes each day (a good mixture of various forms, including the NHS travel one) and about half the restaurants have done so. Mask usage is spasmodic. However, nobody checked anything in Valmorel and Val Cenis only spot checked at some of the base stations, catching out a number of people who had got into the system without showing a pass (the gendames were being threatened when two ladies were saying they must be allowed on because their car was at the other end of the resort).

  2. Just back from 12 days in the Alps (resort name withheld on purpose). One check on lift in 10 days of skiing and probably only 40% of restaurants! 13 year old grandson from the UK ever refused entry anywhere and we didn’t do 24 hour tests! It’s all very laid back to say the least. The resorts need the revenue, not the hassle!

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For members

SKIING

‘Slower lifts’: What ski resorts in France will do to save energy this winter

Skiers in France may have to contend with higher prices this winter season, as resorts take measures to deal with rising energy prices.

'Slower lifts': What ski resorts in France will do to save energy this winter

French ski resorts, like most industries are not exempt from the energy crisis, as they attempt to plan for the winter season amid rising prices and potential shortages. 

Called upon to reduce their energy consumption by 10 percent, the resorts are looking into ways they can cut down on energy consumption. 

As a result, skiers may have to accept things from slower chairlifts to pricier tickets as stations attempt to save energy.

How the resorts will be affected

For over a third of ski operators, the energy issue is even more pressing, because they are in the midst of renegotiating their energy supply contracts. Normally signed every three years, some resorts have found themselves at the end of their contracts with rates reaching record highs. 

For the SATA group, which manages the lifts of Alpe-d’Huez, Deux-Alpes and La Grave resorts, current rates, depending on the resort, could double, a group spokesperson told AFP. So a resort with a €10 million energy bill could find it having to pay €20 million this winter.

Meanwhile the Domaines skiables de France (DSF) – the umbrella group in charge of French ski resorts – told AFP that electricity bills, which normally accounts for three to five percent of their costs, could triple or quadruple. 

How skiers could be impacted?

Slower chairlifts and some closures

According to BFMTV, several resorts are considering slowing down their ski lifts, as well as closing others if there is already another lift that serves that slope. The head of DSF, Alexandre Maulin, told BFMTV that this proposal would only “add one minute of climbing time for the skier” and that it would likely “not be noticeable.”

Adjusting opening hours

Resorts are considering opening later in the morning and closing earlier in the evening to cut back on energy usage.

Christmas lights, water temperature and hot tubs

In total, the ski area only accounts for about 20 percent of the resort’s energy, so cuts will be necessary beyond just the slopes themselves. Resort-goers may have to make due without Christmas lights in some resorts, like Avoriaz near Chamonix. As for indoor pools, temperatures could be lowered by up to 3C, and hotels and private chalets may be asked to turn off some exterior lighting and make jacuzzis optional. 

Increased prices:

Finally, several stations are preparing to increase the prices of ski passes. “We are lucky because our energy contract is still running, but we have to face a global increase of our expenses,” explained the head of communications for the La Clusaz resort to BFMTV. For Avoriaz, the price of a day pass will go from €43.5 to €47. France bleu reported that other resorts – including the Val Thorens station and several Vosges resorts in Alsace will also increase prices.

Will there be ski resort closures?

Skiers can rest assured that the sport will still be possible, and that stations are set to remain open all winter, according to Alexandre Maulin. 

“We are not going to reduce services,” Maulin told BFMTV. 

The DSF head explained that that measures impacting opening hours would mostly be activated during off-peak times and outside of school vacations, with the overarching goal of “limiting inconveniences.” 

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