I am writing this post on the 20th of January and there is supposed to be an announcement made regarding the openings of ski resorts, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues so there will be an update that I will add at the end of this post.
Currently there are no ski resorts that are open in France and there are so many rumours flying around about the date when the ski resorts can open that it is hard to follow all of them. We have heard dates such as the 6th of January, 20th of January (both of which did not happen, obviously), beginning and middle of February and also beginning of March. However there is not a single definitive answer.
The mood in the town of Val d’Isere is very split. Some people are very optimistic and believe that ski resorts will have a possibility of opening this winter and some believe that the season is done and dusted. However, from what I have heard, the general consensus is that most people are getting more and more frustrated about not having any clear information. Right now all businesses are in a bit of a limbo state where they need to make sure that their premises are ready if the announcement made is positive and therefore they need to hire staff. However if the resorts do not open, all this work is for nothing.
There is also a big economic restraint for the Compagnie des Alpes. They operate all the ski lifts in the area and it is not a cheap procedure. If they were to open all the ski lifts and keep them running, employ all the staff and be able to maintain that, it would cost a lot of money and I am sure they will need to be certain that they will be able to recuperate the costs that they will have to endure. This may cause the lifts not being open even though the French government gives the green light to go ahead with the opening.
The rules in Val d’Isere are along those that are set out in the whole of France. We have to be indoors between the hours of 18.00 and 6.00, with a few exceptions like walking your dog or work purposes. Masks need to be worn on the streets and inside all the establishments that are open.
There are a few bars and restaurants open as takeaways like Chez Jules, Bamboo, Le Petit Danois, Underground and a few others and those delivering food are able to have longer opening hours, which includes Flash Pizza and Pizz’n’love. The supermarket Sherpa is now shut for the time being, so the only one in the centre of town is the Spar supermarket under the hotel Victors and is from 8.30 to 13.30 and from 15.00 to 18.00 (both of the other Spars are also open, I am just not 100% sure on their opening hours). Pharmacy has the lunch break from 12.30 until 16.00 and is open until 19.00. There are also some equipment shops open that are renting out snowshoes, touring equipment and all the gear you may need for your tours up the mountains.
Overall, everyone in town is trying to keep themselves as busy as possible and trying to find any work that is available. This makes it look like there is a bit of life in town and that is a great sight. However at the same time everyone is very careful with keeping their distance between each other and respecting the rules set out by the government in order to tackle the virus. I am sure this is also the case in all ski resorts in the world as all of us are just dreaming of lifts being open again.
For now, please stay safe, support your friends and respect the rules. There will be a time where we will get a chance to get on a chairlift or a gondola again and be able to shred like never before!
* UPDATE: The announcement made on the 20th of January stated that the ski resorts will not be opening at the beginning of February, with an opening in mid -to-late February improbable, and the winter season seems to be over before it even started. It is possible to visit ski resorts in France but restaurants and ski lifts remain shut. The businesses that are affected by not having an ability to open are going to receive economic support measures, which will be decided in the upcoming days after a meeting between the industry players and the Prime Minister Jean Castex. (Source: France24)