With Record Snowfall and Skiing Still Banned, the Pressure is Mounting from Ski Instructors and… Snow Shoes!
In the Alpes-Maritimes department, not only have the residents been struggling with the immense damage incurred by September storms, they have also seen their ski resorts being forced to remain closed to skiers. It’s a blow that’s difficult to take, particularly when the Southern Alps (unlike their counterparts farther north who get a more guaranteed yearly fall) are not always guaranteed a full season. This year, the snow is just wonderful and both those who profit from the season and those who love the snow have been doing their best to make it happen.
Last weekend, the cross-country ski resort of Gréolières-les Neiges was choked with traffic, with thousands of locals making a break to play in the snow in one of the only ways left for them to do so – with snow shoes. It became so chaotic that the police had to close roads.
Already, shops in the area have been running short of supplies as they struggle to keep up with the demand for the only permissible equipment that will allow them to enjoy the mountains.
For residents of Nice, Gréolières-les Neiges is just an hour and a half away by car and for many, being forced into the snowshoe scene is first:
“I had never done snowshoe-ing before,” admits Niçois Séverine Lanseman. ” When I saw that it was going to be nice this weekend, we got together with a few friends to head up the mountains. We really wanted to walk, get some fresh air and take advantage of the natural resources that we have just an hour and a half from our home. I went out and bought ski pants, a puffy winter jacket and a pair of ski shoes. It was a hard job to get a hold of snow shoes because places in Nice were out of them but we managed to make a few calls and get sorted.”
On Saturday evening, meanwhile, the deserted ski resorts of France were the scene of a scenic protest from members of the ESF (Ecole du Ski Français), who were calling on the Government to allow the ski-lifts to re-open to salvage something of the remainder of the ski season.
Thousands of ski instructors from France’s largest ski school took part in the event that consisted of a torchlit descent. Representing the 220 schools in the country who employ some 17,000 ski instructors, the symbolic action was “our mountainy way of bringing our difficulties to the attention of the government.” So said Eric Brèche, President of the French Union of Ski Instructors.
Meanwhile, according to a report in a recent edition of Le Figaro newspaper, a group of approximately 60 people gathered in the main square in the ski resort of Auron last Saturday (photo above), partying and listening to music in direct contravention of Covid regulations in the country. Tut-tut!