Skiing in France during COVID-19: what you need to know before you go

From the heights of the Nauchets Express chairlift, I am filled with views of the morning rope framed by snow-capped pines. After two wasted winters and months of uncertainty surrounding the opening of ski resorts this winter, it is the perfect antidote to the pandemic.

I am in the postcard village of Les Gets, which is part of the Portes du Soleil ski area in the French Alps, for the resort pre-opening (pre-opening). This in itself is a wonder: Warmer temperatures and rising snow lines mean the mountains in December can still be green. But the Snow Gods have been kind to early bird skiers this year, blessing the Alps and Pyrenees with unprecedented abundance of powder.

Nicola Williams and her daughter Kaya hit the slopes in France © Nicola Williams

COVID-19 prematurely closed ski resorts in France in March 2020 and forced resorts to semi-operate without ski lifts last season. Despite the rapid evolution of travel and entry rules, the winter season in France has got off to a good start, with some key differences brought about by the pandemic. Here is what you need to know.

Have the right pass

This winter, to access the ski lifts of French resorts, anyone over 12 years old needs a pass sanitary. This French health pass⁠ – a QR code, stored in the efficient TousAntiCovid app or printed out – shows that you have been fully vaccinated, that you have recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months, or that you have tested negative for in the last 24 hours.

Most resorts won’t even sell you a ski pass without proof; others rely on the local constable to perform spot checks. Either way, don’t expect a refund on your ski pass if you get caught on the lifts without a sanitary pass.

For families visiting from the UK, single teenagers are not considered fully vaccinated in France, which means daily testing to use the ski lifts. The notable exception is for adolescents vaccinated alone who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months. pass sanitary (36 €).

Tip: Keep a hard copy of your health card QR code in your ski jacket pocket. An essential backup if you forget your mobile device, lose it, or suddenly find that the high altitude cold has destroyed your phone battery.

Book the tests in advance

Ski resort pharmacies are stepping up COVID-19 testing facilities this season to ensure skiers don’t waste a second of premium ski time – and if you plan it right, you shouldn’t need to do the trick. tail.

Pharmacies administer lateral flow tests an antigen test or simply “antigen”) on tours all day. Tests cost € 25 (€ 30 on Sundays) and results usually take between 15 and 30 minutes. If you need to test daily to get a 24 hours pass sanitary, book a block of exam appointments in advance at the same time. The Grande Pharmacie de Morzine in the seaside resort of Morzine and many others take online reservations via the Doctolib platform.

The home side flow kits sold in pharmacies (around € 6) do not generate a QR code and are not valid for a pass sanitary. To obtain a PCR test while traveling (45 to 50 €, result within 48 hours), make an appointment at the resort’s medical center.

Prepare to hide yourself

Even with the faces wrapped in goggles, ski goggles and helmets, the euphoria that emanated from the eerily silent (and orderly – none of the usual pushes forward in a pack) line of skiers lining up for the ride. bubble of Chavannes in Les Gets last weekend was electrifying. The resort’s celebratory motto this season is #CetHiverJeSki (#ThiswinterIski) and clearly wearing a mask – recommended for ages 6 to 11 and mandatory for anyone older – is a small price to pay for skiers.

A sign says masks must be worn in public.
Prepare to hide while skiing in France © Nicola Williams

Face masks are essential this winter on ski lifts, in lift lines and at the start of ski school lessons. Masks are required outdoors on resort streets, outdoor markets and ice rinks, on public transportation, and in all indoor public spaces, including ski rental points, spas , stores, hotels, cinemas and restaurants and bars until they are seated. Only disposable surgical masks (sold in the resort’s pharmacies) and category 1 fabric masks (AFNOR SPEC S76-001) or equivalent certified neck protectors are authorized, even if the controls were non-existent last weekend .

Best Advice: When skiing or snowboarding, throw in a poorly fitted face shield with ear straps for a certified neck – considerably easier to get on and off quickly. Buy in resort at ski schools, tourist offices and sports shops.

The count is still in

As chairlifts gathered dust last winter (or rather heavenly icicles sculpted by the elements into breathtaking art), ski touring has undergone a massive renaissance. Many resorts have marked out routes dedicated to ski touring so that skiers can enjoy a slow, serene and picturesque pace (hurtle down the snowy slopes of Mont Chéry in Les Gets at sunrise and you will immediately understand the magic). Several routes have been maintained this season — none pass sanitary obligatory. Ski shops rent all equipment and ski schools now offer guided ski touring outings.

A skier makes his way through a beautiful winter scene.
Enjoy the landscape in France this year © Nicola Williams

Dance of the ditches for a forest bath after dark

The French government’s decision to close nightclubs and ban dancing in bars and restaurants for four weeks (from December 11 to January 6 inclusive) could have temporarily killed any wild après-ski jigging on tables or dancing up. ‘at dawn. But after two catastrophic winter seasons, French ski resorts are increasing their creative stops. Restaurants, cafes and bars operate normally, but with pass sanitary enter and hide when not seated – and après-ski embraces the great outdoors with photos of Génépi around campfires, torchlight snowshoeing evenings, wigwam fondues and baths of forest after dark.

In an immaculate pine forest above the slopes of Les Gets, Alta Lumina transports visitors to an enchanting nocturnal land of dazzling light, sound and video – once again, pass sanitary is required for entry.

About George Dailey

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