The first skiers hit the slopes of Val Thorens in Savoie and Porté-Puymorens in the Pyrénées-Orientales early Saturday morning, savoring their return after two seasons marred by the Covid-19 epidemic.
“Excellent! It’s the first! A little cold but it’s going to be fine”, says a group of skiers from Perpignan to take advantage, under the sun, of the first day of opening of the slopes in Val Thorens, the highest sports resort. winter of Europe.
“We are delighted to be able to restart the ski lifts and then to redo our job 100%,” Emmanuel Laissus, ski patroller and rescuer told AFP.
All week long, the staff was busy with the final preparations: the slopes were marked out, the protective foams were checked and the final adjustments to the ski lifts were made to welcome the first customers.
“It still makes a lot of people work and we were impatient to see customers here again”, says Franck Feyeux, funitel (ski lift system) driver in Val Thorens.
The small resort of Porté-Puymorens takes pride in being the first to open in the Pyrenees even on a single track. The other resorts in the massif will launch their season between November 27 for the firsts and December 4.
“I have been the resort manager for 10 years and we have been able to open at least eight seasons from November. We owe it to our site which culminates at 2,500 m [élevé pour les Pyrénées], it’s a cold place and we have a very good orientation “, launches the director of the estate Eric Charre according to which” there is a terrible craze “.
“It restarts the economic engine of the valley. We have withstood (the Covid crisis) the professionals, the seasonal workers live on site and are reactive,” he said.
After their closure last winter due to the covid-19 pandemic, the French resorts are betting on this new season which they hope will be promising despite the constraint of the mask in the ski lifts.
“This year is very important and even essential for us. We know that if there is not this year, our future is at stake and we cannot imagine that there will not be a season winter, so we did everything to make it happen, “explained Olivier Simonin director of Val d’Isère Téléphériques.
Upscale and popular with the British, the station is due to open on November 27.
The stakes are high for France, which is just behind the United States and Austria on the podium of the most popular ski destinations in the world.