The winter school holiday period has brought mixed results for French ski areas. The storm Xynthia wiped out the Pyrenean resort of Superbagnères which will not be fully operational until next season. Other resorts in the area either had to close temporarily or were inaccessible. Strong southerly foehn winds also affected slopes below 1200 meters. Some low lying ski resorts struggled to make it through to the end of the holiday period although overall they had good visitor numbers.
According to Protourisme there were far fewer visitors from Paris during their school holiday period at the end of February. They were compensated for by locals attracted by the generally good ski conditions but they often skied half days. Lift operators association the SNTF has said that the big ski areas of the Northern Alps suffered from poor weather and fewer British guests. Typical were Courchevel and Val d’Isère which saw 7% fewer visitors although the free spending Russians are back in Courchevel 1850.
Despite good snow conditions at all altitudes medium size ski resorts saw turnover drop between 7-15% compared to last year (which was a record for France). Skiers are also spending less in bars, restaurants and shops. 2010 has been the year of last minute reservations with online booking proving popular. This has also allowed skiers to follow the snow and weather conditions. The Southern Alps had the best weather and saw turnover increase by 3% compared to 2009.
March and April represent 40% of season turnover but according to the SNTF reservations are well below average. Last year also saw a lot of last minute bookings and high level resorts had a bumper Easter due to good snow at altitude.