There’s plenty of snow still and yet most French ski resorts are closing as planned. Why?
There are two reasons I keep hearing – one is that the French school holidays are too late this year, so the slopes are quiet anyway and it’s not profitable to stay open. The other is contracts: season workers’ contracts are up and it is just not possible to change things.
Fair enough, I thought, that sounds plausible – I know a thing or two about French paperwork myself after a couple of years of living here.
But then earlier this week French Pyrenees resort Piau Engaly announces it is extending its opening and will open again, exceptionally, this weekend, 20-21 April.
Huh? How do they manage it when others can’t? So I asked them.
“The decision was taken based on the skier numbers last weekend, the weather forecast which showed good weather expected for this weekend and sufficiently low temperatures to maintain the snow quality in the meantime,” said Blandine Vernardet, director of SEML Piau Engaly. “It required a rapid reorganisation of season contracts that would normally be up already to allow us to properly prepare the ski area and re-open Saturday and Sunday.”
And to prepare the waterslide that they will be putting in place again this weekend.
“To be profitable, we will need around 1,500 skiers per day,” Ms Vernadet added.
Well, I hope they get that – and more. Judging by the likes Piau got when they announced it on Facebook and the comments on this article about other Pyrenees resorts closing on time despite the record snowfall, there are still plenty of keen skiers out there who don’t want the season to end yet.
So if you’re in the area this weekend, go ski at Piau Engaly. And bring a towel for the waterslide!