On The Ski Podcast, we’ve lost count of the numbers of times we’ve discussed when or whether ski resorts will open this winter.

It can be hard to keep up with the various European government announcements. Are resorts open or closed? Will they open at all this season?

France Montagnes tackled these questions with a recent true or false blog post that we loosely translate here…

FALSE: “It’s dangerous to come and ski in the mountains”

Coming to the mountains to ski is no more dangerous than doing plenty of other outdoors activities.

The authorities ruled against resorts opening lifts to limit their attractiveness and reduce mixing during the Christmas holidays.

There are state-agreed national protocols in place that ensure skiers’ safety including masks on the ski lifts, regular disinfection and social distancing in queues. Specially designed ‘2in1’ buffs/masks allow skiers to easy protect themselves on the mountain.

FALSE: “Nothing’s open in resort”

As in the rest of France, restaurants and bars are closed, but many have adapted to offer take-out dishes, soups, desserts and drinks.

Outdoor skating rinks, Nordic areas, snowshoe trails and ski touring trails are open, as are sports shops, souvenir shops, pharmacies, grocery stores, boulangeries and medical centres

FALSE: “Ski resorts are closed for health reasons”

This claim is wrong, twice over.

The ski resorts are not closed: the main activity of downhill skiing is made impossible for most thanks to a decree prohibiting ski lifts from operating. This ban may be lifted in February.

In fact, ‘downhill’ skiing is the only individual outdoor ski resort activity that you can’t enjoy right now and ‘non-urban’ ski lifts are the only mode of transport currently subject to an ban (meaning lifts ‘in’ the resort itself can operate).

MAYBE: “Resorts will open for the February holidays”

The French government is working towards ski resort opening for the February ‘vacances scholaires’. The date for any announcement will be 20 January.

TRUE: “There’ll be a lot of snow in the French mountains in February”

This is less easy to guarantee, but as at 08 January there was good cover across the French Alps, with the following snow levels at 1500m, according to Météo France:

Northern Alps                  30-75cm
Southern Alps                  40-80cm
Pyrenees                           55-70cm
Massif Central                  100-140cm (at 1300m)
Jura                                    45-50cm (at 1100m)

TRUE: “There’s plenty more to do than just skiing”

France Montagnes reckon there are more than 50 options on offer, including skating, forest walks, snowshoeing, ice climbing, paragliding, cross-country skiing, hiking, mountaineering, tobogganing, ski touring and way more than you can fit into a week.

FALSE: “If I make a booking I could end up out of pocket”

Most accommodation and local businesses offer special Covid19 cancellation insurance or guarantees. In most cases, you’ll be eligible for a full refund if you can’t travel due to national or local rulings, or if you have to isolate or catch Covid yourself.

FALSE: “You’re more likely to catch Covid while skiing”

This just isn’t true. Ski resorts are large outdoor spaces. The major clusters last season in resorts like Ischgl in Austria were driven by après-ski in bars and not from skiers on lifts.

You can control your own safety by following hygiene advice (mask-wearing, social distancing and regular hand cleaning).

TRUE: “Hygiene protocols in ski resorts have been approved by the State”

A protocol of nearly 60 pages has been agreed with the French State, coordinated by the Savoie prefecture. It takes into account all potential contact points for holidaymakers, from shuttles to ski lifts, including restaurants and accommodation providers.

It has been validated by the state and praised by French prime minister Jean Castex.

FALSE (hopefully): ”There will be no restaurants in the resorts this winter”

As everywhere in France, restaurants and bars will not have the right to host customers indoors or out before at least mid-February. However, there’s plenty of take-away and delivery, evidenced by the ‘vin chaud’ drunk in the streets this Christmas.

UNPROVEN: “Cheese and genepi promote immunity against Covid”

According to France Montagnes, this is currently unproven, but on the other hand, no serious study has yet proved that the qualities of genepi and cheese do not help in the fight against coronavirus!