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French ski resorts announce opening dates despite lack of snow

France’s ski resorts have announced their opening dates amid worries over unseasonably warm temperatures and a lack of snow.

French ski resorts announce opening dates despite lack of snow

The unseasonably warm October, on the heels of a meltingly hot summer in France, and after a mild spring has left ski resort bosses looking nervously at the weather forecasts ahead of the start of the ski season.

Glacier skiing during the Toussaint holiday period has been off the table this year after Tignes and Deux-Alpes resorts decided to remain closed because of a lack of snow.

Frédéric Porte, director of the Tignes ski resort, told Le Figaro that “below-average snowfall last winter, a mild spring and a scorching summer” were to blame for the decision not to open the glaciers for skiing in late October.  “Snowfalls at the end of September were not enough,” he added. 

But resorts still intend to open for the main ski season – with Chamonix expected to open from December 3rd, Val Thorens on November 19th and Tignes on November 26th.

Stations in the Pyrenees, meanwhile, are set to start opening from the end of the month, with Cauterets partially opening from the weekend of November 26th. 

Other resorts – including a number of Pyreneean ‘heavyweights’ plan to open by the first weekend of December – Luz-Ardiden, Peyragudes, Piau-Engaly, Grand Tourmalet, Pic du Midi, and Ax 3 Domaines all plan to open around December 2nd or 3rd.

Several resorts are also changing their ski lift operations as part of France’s winter energy-saving plan. The Puigmal 2900 station in the Pyrénées-Orientales, has already announced a drop in speed of its ski lifts this year, which will also close three times a week.

According to Météo France’s long-range forecast, the winter of 2022-2023 should remain within seasonal expectations, while the south of the country can expect a relatively dry three months between November and January.

“The most likely scenario for the November-December 2022-January 2023 quarter is the predominance of anticyclonic conditions, with calm and dry weather, over the European continent,” Météo-France said in its quarterly report.

“Disturbances will tend to be further north of Europe or southwest of the Mediterranean.”

Météo-France’s climate models suggest there’s a one-in-five “chance” of a colder-than-normal winter, compared to a 30 percent chance of a “warmer” winter. And, a 50 percent chance that the next three months will follow seasonal norms.

Winter 2021 was one of the wettest in history, but the forecaster said that it was unlikely the next three months would follow the same pattern, especially in the south of the country.

“A drier-than-normal scenario is likely from the eastern Mediterranean to central Europe and northeastern France, while a wet scenario is more likely over northern Europe and the western Mediterranean,” forecasters explain, with the usual warnings that they are unable to predict daily or weekly weather conditions in a 90-day trends forecast.

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France extends Covid tests for travellers from China

France on Saturday said it had extended until February 15th Covid tests for travellers arriving from China due to the "evolving situation".

France extends Covid tests for travellers from China

The tests had initially been decreed until January 31.

Since the start of this year, travellers aged over 11 and coming from China to France have had to present a negative test taken 48 hours before the flight to board the plane.

Random testing will be carried out and anyone testing positive will have to self-isolate, the French authorities said, adding that everyone above six years old would have to wear face masks on the plane.

Several countries had slapped fresh travel regulations on travellers from China after Beijing decided to relax strict virus restrictions.

China has said that the number of daily Covid-19 deaths has fallen by nearly 80 percent since the start of the month.

A wave of virus cases has washed over the world’s most populous nation since Beijing abruptly ended its zero-Covid policy last month.

Beijing’s figures are believed to only represent a fraction of the true toll, given China’s narrow definition of a Covid death and official estimates that swathes of the population have been infected.