Top French ski resorts on Facebook (1 Oct ’14)

With skiing possible in France as of this Saturday, thoughts are starting to turn towards winter: on social media and in my head, for sure, as I sit here at my desk.

Among the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook, those that saw the most action are starting to talk – and picture – SNOW.

More specifically, the top three by fan growth in September all had something else in common:

La Plagne (+12%)…

Le Lioran (+3%)…

La Clusaz (+3%)…

La Clusaz lift building video

(no luck embedding the post so here’s a link: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=736997273042240 )

Yes, we love to see our resorts making improvements for our skiing pleasure.

Average fan growth for the whole top 50 in September was just 1%, down from 1.7% this time last year, so let it snow and let’s get some more buzz going!

Here’s the ranking in full, as recorded on 1 October 2014:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 115,507 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 48,042
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 41,044
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 25,012
  5. Grand Massif – 12,598

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 162,912 fans
  2. Megève – 114,955
  3. Chamonix – 73,044
  4. Tignes – 55,762
  5. Les Menuires – 50,853
  6. Courchevel – 49,847
  7. La Clusaz – 49,419
  8. Les Arcs – 47,649
  9. Val d’Isère – 47,196
  10. Alpe d’Huez – 40,519
  11. Cauterets – 38,895
  12. Les 2 Alpes – 38,183
  13. La Plagne – 36,441
  14. Serre Chevalier – 31,031
  15. Le Grand Bornand – 29,399
  16. Avoriaz – 28,151
  17. Saint Lary – 27,956
  18. Vars – 25,060
  19. Méribel – 21,175
  20. La Norma – 17,470
  21. Orcières – 17,379
  22. Ax 3 Domaines – 17,106
  23. Les Gets – 16,925
  24. Le Dévoluy – 14,230
  25. Les Sept Laux – 13,138
  26. Lac Blanc – 13,113
  27. Les Contamines – 12,879
  28. Peyragudes – 12,809
  29. Châtel – 12,409
  30. Les Orres – 12,365
  31. Morzine – 11,923
  32. Montgenèvre – 10,632
  33. Aussois – 9,924
  34. Valloire – 9,861
  35. Grand Tourmalet – 9,604
  36. Piau-Engaly – 9,220
  37. Sainte Foy – 9,210
  38. Les Saisies – 8,617
  39. Le Lioran – 8,208
  40. Les Angles – 8,018
  41. Chamrousse – 7,077
  42. Gourette – 7,056
  43. Praloup – 6,403
  44. La Pierre St Martin – 6,270
  45. Le Corbier – 5,462
  46. Samoëns – 5,253
  47. Arêches Beaufort – 4,998
  48. Les Carroz – 4,950
  49. Metabief – 4,909
  50. Villard de Lans – 4,908

Please note: these are official pages only and only those resorts are included that have at least some alpine ski uplift capacity, ie a ski lift. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone and please let me know so this list can be improved for next month. Linked resorts/domains like the 3 Valleys are ranked separately and the count was done on 1 October.

Top French ski resorts on Facebook this summer

It’s back to school time – la rentrée in France – and some welcome calm is returning to the mountains. The shopkeepers and hoteliers are taking a well-earned breather and, for the rest of us, there’s still plenty of hiking and cycling to be done, but without the crowds.

It will also – very soon – be time to turn our thoughts to the approaching winter. But before that, let’s take stock of how the summer season went.

This has not been a great summer, it must be said, at least partly due to some dreadful weather. Three out of five professionals in mountain and lake areas in Rhone Alpes judged the frequentation of their establishments insufficient, Rhone Alpes Tourism reports.

On social media, the numbers were down too. The average fan growth of the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook June through August was 3.7% (excluding special case, Orcières, see below), which compares to 6% for the same period last year (excluding another special case, Alpe d’Huez, which merged pages last July).

That said, a few resorts did rather well this summer, despite the challenging conditions. Check out the top five by Facebook fan growth June-August:

  1. Chamonix (+25%)
  2. Cauterets (+18%)
  3. Le Grand Bornand (+17%)
  4. La Clusaz (+17%)
  5. Les 2 Alpes (+9%)

No surprise to see Chamonix up there and Cauterets in the Pyrenees also always does well. The Aravis resorts, La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand, seem to be making a strong play – and a successful one – for summer business, with family festivals, summer press trips and more. And Les 2 Alpes has amazing summer skiing on its glacier of course.

Here are a few of the most engaging posts from around the French mountains this summer:

Meanwhile Orcières has rebranded from Orcières 1850 to Orcières Merlette 1850, taking back the Merlette name it used to be also known by. In so doing it has merged two Facebook pages and jumped up to  21 in the rankings (from 31).

And now for the numbers… Here are all the scores, as recorded on 1 September 2014:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 115,392 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 47,885
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 40,865
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 24,547
  5. Grand Massif – 12,524

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 162,022 fans
  2. Megève – 114,988
  3. Chamonix – 71,164
  4. Tignes – 55,244
  5. Les Menuires – 50,575
  6. Courchevel – 49,554
  7. La Clusaz – 47,968
  8. Les Arcs – 47,393
  9. Val d’Isère – 46,733
  10. Alpe d’Huez – 40,387
  11. Cauterets – 38,287
  12. Les 2 Alpes – 37,626
  13. La Plagne – 32,488
  14. Serre Chevalier – 30,787
  15. Le Grand Bornand – 28,605
  16. Avoriaz – 27,851
  17. Saint Lary – 27,848
  18. Vars – 24,923
  19. Méribel – 20,857
  20. La Norma – 17,449
  21. Orcières – 17,278
  22. Ax 3 Domaines – 17,047
  23. Les Gets – 16,747
  24. Le Dévoluy – 14,205
  25. Les Sept Laux – 13,009
  26. Lac Blanc – 12,964
  27. Les Contamines – 12,691
  28. Peyragudes – 12,680
  29. Châtel – 12,376
  30. Les Orres – 12,270
  31. Morzine – 11,845
  32. Montgenèvre – 10,595
  33. Aussois – 9,883
  34. Valloire – 9,837
  35. Grand Tourmalet – 9,586
  36. Sainte Foy – 9,201
  37. Piau-Engaly – 9,157
  38. Les Saisies – 8,483
  39. Les Angles – 8,019
  40. Le Lioran – 7,944
  41. Gourette – 7,060
  42. Praloup – 6,364
  43. La Pierre St Martin – 6,235
  44. Le Corbier – 5,462
  45. Samoëns – 5,219
  46. Arêches Beaufort – 4,999
  47. Metabief – 4,908
  48. Les Carroz – 4,896
  49. Villard de Lans – 4,892
  50. Luz Ardiden – 4,856

Please note: these are official pages only and only those resorts are included that have at least some alpine ski uplift capacity, ie a ski lift. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone and please let me know so this list can be improved for next month. Linked resorts/domains like the 3 Valleys are ranked separately and the count was done on 1 September.

Top French ski resorts on Facebook (on 4 August ’14)

It has been an odd summer so far weather-wise, and it seems to have cast a bit of a damper on social media activity around the major French mountain resorts.

Fan growth of the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook averaged just 1.6% in July, compared to 3.1% in July last year.

Only four resorts grew their likes by more than 5% in the month.

Cauterets (+12%) showed off its sunshine at every opportunity:

In Chamonix (+11%), if it’s cloudy, you can always climb a bit higher:

Meanwhile the two main Aravis resorts, La Clusaz (+6.5%) and Le Grand Bornand (+6.2%) continue to pursue the family summer market and hosted the Aravis & Cies family festival:

Here is the ranking in full, as recorded on 4 August 2014:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 115,364 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 47,830
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 40,724
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 24,330
  5. Grand Massif – 12,472

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 161,790 fans
  2. Megève – 114,993
  3. Chamonix – 69,747
  4. Tignes – 54,870
  5. Les Menuires – 50,502
  6. Courchevel – 49,486
  7. Les Arcs – 47,290
  8. Val d’Isère – 46,569
  9. La Clusaz – 45,919
  10. Alpe d’Huez – 40,415
  11. Les 2 Alpes – 37,045
  12. Cauterets – 36,372
  13. La Plagne – 32,346
  14. Serre Chevalier – 30,615
  15. Saint Lary – 27,767
  16. Avoriaz – 27,721
  17. Le Grand Bornand – 27,421
  18. Vars – 24,813
  19. Méribel – 20,491
  20. La Norma – 17,425
  21. Ax 3 Domaines – 16,983
  22. Les Gets – 16,488
  23. Le Dévoluy – 14,172
  24. Les Sept Laux – 12,970
  25. Lac Blanc – 12,618
  26. Peyragudes – 12,561
  27. Les Contamines – 12,543
  28. Châtel – 12,359
  29. Les Orres – 12,178
  30. Morzine – 11,723
  31. Orcières1850 – 11,415
  32. Montgenèvre – 10,572
  33. Aussois – 9,847
  34. Valloire – 9,746
  35. Grand Tourmalet – 9,611
  36. Sainte Foy – 9,194
  37. Piau-Engaly – 8,928
  38. Les Saisies – 8,335
  39. Les Angles – 8,003
  40. Le Lioran – 7,868
  41. Gourette – 7,071
  42. Praloup – 6,347
  43. La Pierre St Martin – 6,197
  44. Le Corbier – 5,440
  45. Samoëns – 5,158
  46. Arêches Beaufort – 5,000
  47. Metabief – 4,895
  48. Villard de Lans – 4,872
  49. Les Carroz – 4,844
  50. Luz Ardiden – 4,841

Please note: these are official pages only and only those resorts are included that have at least some alpine ski uplift capacity, ie a ski lift. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone and please let me know so this list can be improved for next month. Linked resorts/domains like the 3 Valleys are ranked separately and the count was done on 4 August.

Top French ski resorts on Facebook (on 1 July ’14)

Midsummer’s eve has been and gone, so the nights are drawing in and we are heading towards next winter already.

In the meantime, mountain resorts are in full-up summer mode and for some, it shows on Facebook more than for others.

The top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook grew their fans just 1.1% on average in June, up slightly from 0.9% in May. But a few resorts did a lot better.

Chamonix (+10%) hit 60k fans this month, helped by a competition sponsored by Asics to promote its Outrun The Sun event. The following weekend, the Skyrunning World Championships came to town:

Chamonix FB photo

The Aravis resorts seem have got off to a good start this summer, with both La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand up just over 5% in June:

Lac des Confins La Clusaz

Le Grand Bornand FB post

Les Arcs (+5%) was the only other resort up by 5% or more in June.

Les Arcs fb pic june

Here are all the scores, as recorded on 1 July 2014:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 115,242 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 47,660
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 40,389
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 23,927
  5. Grand Massif – 12,420

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 161,550 fans
  2. Megève – 114,969
  3. Chamonix – 62,948
  4. Tignes – 54,208
  5. Les Menuires – 49,625
  6. Courchevel – 49,321
  7. Les Arcs – 47,113
  8. Val d’Isère – 46,256
  9. La Clusaz – 43,135
  10. Alpe d’Huez – 40,193
  11. Les 2 Alpes – 35,610
  12. Cauterets – 32,568
  13. La Plagne – 32,011
  14. Serre Chevalier – 30,330
  15. Saint Lary – 27,585
  16. Avoriaz – 27,470
  17. Le Grand Bornand – 25,812
  18. Vars – 24,683
  19. Méribel – 20,313
  20. La Norma – 17,376
  21. Ax 3 Domaines – 16,595
  22. Les Gets – 16,066
  23. Le Dévoluy – 14,077
  24. Les Sept Laux – 12,925
  25. Peyragudes – 12,472
  26. Les Contamines – 12,392
  27. Lac Blanc – 12,341
  28. Châtel – 12,312
  29. Les Orres – 12,046
  30. Morzine – 11,512
  31. Orcières1850 – 11,264
  32. Montgenèvre – 10,556
  33. Aussois – 9,723
  34. Valloire – 9,693
  35. Grand Tourmalet – 9,562
  36. Sainte Foy – 9,187
  37. Piau-Engaly – 8,861
  38. Les Saisies – 8,184
  39. Les Angles – 7,969
  40. Le Lioran – 7,800
  41. Gourette – 7,062
  42. Praloup – 6,262
  43. La Pierre St Martin – 6,162
  44. Le Corbier – 5,414
  45. Samoëns – 5,081
  46. Arêches Beaufort – 4,992
  47. Metabief – 4,836
  48. Valmorel – 4,805
  49. Les Carroz – 4,777
  50. Villard de Lans – 4,775

Please note: these are official pages only and only those resorts are included that have at least some alpine ski uplift capacity, ie a ski lift. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone and please let me know so this list can be improved for next month. Linked resorts/domains like the 3 Valleys are ranked separately and the count was done on 1 July.

Top French ski resorts on Facebook (on 1 June ’14)

Mountain resorts like the one I live in are quite literally buzzing in May with building work and general preparations for summer. But tourism-wise, it is a low point and that showed on social media: the average fan growth of the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook dropped to 0.9%, almost the same as this time last year.

Among those that generated above-average activity, the common theme was getting ready for summer which, in the case of Le Grand Bornand (+6.3%), meant driving the cows up to the alpage…

…for La Clusaz (+3.5%) meant opening its Via Ferrata…

La Clusaz via ferrata

…and for Les 2 Alpes (+3.3%) meant getting its glacier ready for summer skiing:

Meanwhile Les Carroz merged two pages and jumped 56% to 51st place in the rankings:

Here is the ranking in full, as recorded on 1 June 2014:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 115,118 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 47,585
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 40,093
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 23,598
  5. Grand Massif – 12,379

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 161,550 fans
  2. Megève – 114,948
  3. Chamonix – 57,035
  4. Tignes – 53,731
  5. Courchevel – 49,243
  6. Les Menuires – 48,385
  7. Val d’Isère – 46,096
  8. Les Arcs – 44,769
  9. La Clusaz – 41,078
  10. Alpe d’Huez – 40,169
  11. Les 2 Alpes – 33,446
  12. Cauterets – 32,443
  13. La Plagne – 31,950
  14. Serre Chevalier – 30,219
  15. Saint Lary – 27,522
  16. Avoriaz – 27,273
  17. Vars – 24,605
  18. Le Grand Bornand – 24,487
  19. Méribel – 20,187
  20. La Norma – 17,340
  21. Ax 3 Domaines – 16,501
  22. Les Gets – 15,970
  23. Le Dévoluy – 14,084
  24. Les Sept Laux – 12,860
  25. Peyragudes – 12,393
  26. Les Contamines – 12,313
  27. Châtel – 12,312
  28. Lac Blanc – 12,074
  29. Les Orres – 11,910
  30. Morzine – 11,418
  31. Orcières1850 – 11,153
  32. Montgenèvre – 10,533
  33. Aussois – 9,606
  34. Grand Tourmalet – 9,585
  35. Valloire – 9,545
  36. Sainte Foy – 9,192
  37. Piau-Engaly – 8,812
  38. Les Saisies – 8,098
  39. Les Angles – 7,949
  40. Le Lioran – 7,756
  41. Gourette – 7,062
  42. Praloup – 6,228
  43. La Pierre St Martin – 6,142
  44. Le Corbier – 5,410
  45. Samoëns – 5,028
  46. Arêches Beaufort – 4,978
  47. Valmorel – 4,803
  48. Metabief – 4,799
  49. Villard de Lans – 4,763
  50. Luz Ardiden – 4,742

Please note: these are official pages only and only those resorts are included that have at least some alpine ski uplift capacity, ie a ski lift. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone and please let me know so this list can be improved for next month. Linked resorts/domains like the 3 Valleys are ranked separately and the count was done on 1 June.

‘Tis the season for season passes… or is it?

It’s that time of year again. Trailers to the new crop of ski movies are coming out, Eurostar ski train tickets have just gone on sale and the other morning we woke up to a fresh dusting of snow on the peaks.

Am I the only one starting to think about winter already? Clearly not. Right on cue, last week the post lady delivered our Evasion Mont Blanc season pass renewal forms.

So I spent a few hours recently not just watching ski movie trailers but also researching what other French resorts are doing about marketing next seasons’s passes, timing-wise.

What I found was a huge variation.

Early birds do catch the skiers

In the US, marketing next year’s seasons passes starts even before the last season has finished. Some early bird incentives have deadlines as early as April. And they seem to work, as a piece of analysis by Ryan Solutions shows.

In France, some but by no means all resorts have early bird offers, and the amount of incentive to commit early varies considerably.

First off, Les 7 Laux had a early bird offer for season passes valid up until 15 August allowing you to spread the payments over three instalments but that’s now over and, at the time of writing, there was no other special offer up on the site. Its rates for 2013-2014 are listed here.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 8.30.45 AM

Banner ad on Les 7 Laux’s home page earlier this summer

Montgenèvre has been offering a discount since mid-June if you buy before 15 September with – among other things – the added benefit that you get free access to the lifts this summer, which seems like a very decent incentive to buy early.

Serre Chevalier, conversely, has its season pass rates up and, if you order before October 31st, you get next summer’s lift pass included.

(Unfortunately, for both Montgenèvre and Serre Chevalier, the English version of the relevant website pages was not fully updated when I just checked; no doubt that will be corrected soon.)

Orcières 1850 also has an offer running, in place since the 1st of August, and with a deadline of 30 September. The pass includes 6 days skiing at other LaBelleMontagne resorts.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 8.35.33 AM

Orcières’ early bird offer

Alpe d’Huez meanwhile has two different discount offers: buy before 15 September and you get €250 off the full adult price of €790; buy after that and before 15 November and you get €125 off.

The season pass includes several days free skiing also at other Grande Galaxie resorts (Les 2 Alpes, Serre Chevalier, Puy St Vincent, Montgenèvre and the Italian Milky Way), with an interesting twist in that, if you buy at the cheaper rate before 15 September, you get 5 free days in Les 2 Alpes and, if you choose to buy after that, you get 10 free days there.

For the rest, it is a very mixed bag. The Evasion Mont Blanc early bird discount is valid until 15 November so, although it is good to know the rates, I don’t really see any reason to buy much before then. La Clusaz, similarly, has its new rates up and a decent discount if you buy before 1 December.

What is the best timing?

To what extent French resorts’ early bird season pass offers are successful in lifting overall sales is something I hope to research and report on later in the year.

It certainly seems like a good idea to engage with a resort’s summer holiday clientele before the end of their holiday while they are still in the mountains and starting to look forward to when they might next come back… or not.

It would also seem to make sense for the resorts with a big international clientele to allow them to plan ahead in a timely way. In the UK, the annual frenzy to snag ski train tickets to the Alps got underway recently and Easyjet flights have been on sale for a while. Yet, at the time of writing this, Val d’Isère was still showing last year’s rates on its website and it was by no means the only one.

Others, including La Plagne, have their rates up but also a message saying online purchase will be possible from this autumn.

Competition is increasingly global

Meanwhile, in the US, you have been able to buy the Epic Pass for 2013-14 since spring, which has 5 days in Verbier included and announced in May that 5 free consecutive days in the Austrian Arlberg (St Anton, St Christoph, Stuben, Zürs, and Lech) are now also included.

The Epic pass

Recent banner for the Epic Pass

That’s globalisation for you, and it will be interesting to see how the marketing of season passes by ski areas in France and, indeed, across Europe, reacts.

Sitting comfortably? A look at chair lift safety

early chairlift
I am not a ski lift spotter. Like most skiers I suppose, I tend to see lifts as a means to an end and don’t pay much attention to their finer points. But a spate of nasty chair lift accidents recently got me wondering about what is being done about enhancing uplift safety.

Quite a bit it turns out. Chair lift safety is not a new issue (check out this French article about it almost two years ago to the day) and the major ski lift manufacturers have been working on it for a lot longer than that.

So here’s what I found out about some of the innovations to be aware of and look out for:

Automatic safety barriers

Plan du Moulin Express chair at St Sorlin d'Arvescredit: http://www.remontees-mecaniques.net/bdd/reportage-4013.html

Plan du Moulin Express chair at St Sorlin d’Arves, made by Leitner
credit: http://www.remontees-mecaniques.net/bdd/reportage-4013.html 

I’ve come across a few new chairlifts where the safety bar comes down automatically, stays locked for the journey and opens by itself just before you disembark. The first time I rode one, it was a bit disconcerting because you get to the top and you think it’s not going to open in time to let you off. That was the Plan du Moulin Express chair in Saint Sorlin d’Arves, part of the Les Sybelles ski area. The chairs also have kid stopper fittings (see below).

I hear La Toussuire, also in Les Sybelles, is putting in a new detachable chair with automatic safety barriers next year as well, to replace its Ravières chair which is often used by ski school classes.

Kid stopper fittings

These are the plastic flap type things attached to the bar that close the gap between the bar and your legs, so they won’t let a little kid slip down.

Individual foot rests

Individual foot restscredit: Garaventa Doppelmayr

Individual foot rests
credit: Garaventa Doppelmayr

Individual foot rests mean each person on the chair sits with their legs on either side of a vertical foot rest bar so, again, you can’t slip down. It didn’t occur to me that that was the reason why when I first rode the new Grand Conche chair in Les Crosets in the Portes du Soleil that has them (and automatic barriers as well), but it seems like a simple solution… as long as you sit in the right place on the chair.

Telemix lifts

Telemix Etale La Clusaz credit: Poma

Telemix Etale La Clusaz
credit: Poma

Telemix or combi lifts can be seen in a handful of French ski resorts now and are gaining in popularity because of the flexibility they offer. Basically you can have both chairs and cabins on the same lift so families and ski school kids, pedestrians and beginners can easily take the cabins and more experienced skiers and boarders can choose to save time and take the chairs. Here’s what Doppelmayr, one of the big three manufacturers (the others are Poma and Leitner), says about them:

“Thanks to its high flexibility, this system is the ideal choice for tourism areas with winter and summer operation. Depending on the season, weather conditions or the customer requirements, the ‘mixing ratio’ of the carriers can be flexibly modified. In the summer, cabins can be used to transport wheelchairs, pushchairs and bicycles. In the winter, families highly appreciate the comfort of the cabins, while swift winter sports enthusiasts prefer to use the chairs where they do not have to take off their skis and snowboards.”

Les 7 Laux has one of the first combi lifts – Le Grand Cerf – which has been in operation since 2004, winter and summer.

Montgenèvre and Orcières both have two telemix lifts each and La Clusaz has one and is obviously happy with it as they are planning to put in another one next year.

Stick ’em on

All this new technology is great stuff, but there’s no way every resort can whip out all their older chair lifts and replace them with brand spanking new ones overnight – not at double figure millions of euros a pop. So another option is to retrofit existing chairs with magnetic fittings.

Magnet fastener systemcredit: photo Fabien Lamborot on magnestick.net

Magnet fastener system
credit: photo Fabien Lamborot on magnestick.net

Every single chair lift in the 3 Valleys reportedly now has a magnetic closure that keeps the safety bar locked closed for the duration of the trip, only releasing just before you disembark. You still have to lower the bar yourself when you get on but there is a safety shutdown mechanism if you don’t lower it, and the lift stops.

Quite a few resorts now also have one or two seats per chair with a magnet in the back rest and all little kids in ski school classes wear magnetic vests (that double as a back protector) that stick them to the back rest so they are held in place for the journey and cannot come loose. The mechanism automatically releases them at the top.

Damien Laymond of Sommital, the company that sells this Magnestick® system (and is a subsidiary of 3 Valleys lift company S3V), told me you can retrofit a chairlift with the magnetic bar locking device for 1800 euros a chair – still not exactly cheap, when you consider an average chairlift has 70 chairs, but a heck of a lot less than installing a new chair.

Be aware

Besides upgrading where possible, my view is probably the most important thing resorts and ski lift companies can do – and are doing – is train their staff and raise awareness among lift users. Domaines Skiables de France, which represents French ski resort operators, issued a statement last week reiterating the safety regulations for children on chairlifts and good practice guidelines for all chairlift users. The basics are no kids 1.25m or smaller on chair lifts, a kid should always ride right next to an adult and, of course, lower the safety bar and keep it lowered till just before you arrive.

Several times I have had a small kid from a ski class shoved in next to me on the chairlift, and it can definitely be a worry. You yank them as far back into the seat as you can, but their little legs don’t reach to the foot rest and they look like they could easily slip under the bar, so you watch them like a hawk all the way up and hang on to them as much as possible.

We live in a society that increasingly seems to try to regulate and soothe us into thinking we’re safe, and some people end up abdicating responsibility. But, as these accidents have so tragically reminded us, there is no such thing as zero risk.