Lonely Planet Writer

Want an early ski holiday? These French resorts have already opened

Drag your skis out of the cupboard and stuff your salopettes into your suitcase because a number of ski resorts in France have announced that they’re opening up to three weeks earlier than expected thanks to heavy snowfall in the Alps.

French resorts open early after heavy snow.
French resorts open early after heavy snow. Image by OT Val Thorens

Alpe d’Huez, which was originally set to welcome skiers on Saturday 3 December, has already begun preparing pistes and will give skiers their first taste of powder from Saturday 12 November. Initially, only three runs will be used but the resort has reduced the daily ski pass rate to just €18 (down from €51) to compensate for this. Those with a 2016/17 season lift will be granted access as usual. Speaking about the news, Francois Badjily, Director of the Alpe d’Huez Tourist Office, said: “the snow conditions are excellent. It’s rare that we have such great conditions in order to open as early as this.” The five kilometre runs will only open on weekends until the resort opens fully on Saturday 3 December.

Ski season comes early to the Alps.
Ski season comes early to the Alps. Image by OT Val Thorens

The highest ski resort in Europe, Val Thorens, also confirmed that 70% of their ski lifts will whirl into action from Saturday 19 November. With 130 cm of snow up the mountain, the piste bashers have already been sent out to shape the slopes. Early birds will be able to bag lift passes from €40. Les Trois Vallées village will then officially launch on Saturday 26 November with some 15,000 skiers expected to arrive in the resort. Frédéric Bonnevie, the director of the snow patrol team at Val Thorens, was excited about the early snow.

He said: “Val Thorens has always been able to adapt to weather conditions to open early when possible. And the 2016-17 season is starting well! To be able to open the ski area with good snow conditions from 19 November is very good news. The weather in the last days and the forecast for the next days looks very favourable for Val Thorens. We are benefiting from regular snowfalls and the cold temperature enables us to make artificial snow, which is essential for keeping a good snow base until May. We are preparing the ski area to open on 19 November with 70 cm of snow on the slopes and an access to three summits at 3000 m. It will be a beautiful rehearsal for the Grande Première on the 26th.”