I’ve just got a copy of local paper Le Dauphine Libere which covers the Abondance closure. Feelings are running very high. A defence association has already recruited 300 members out of the 1300 residents. Once person commented that “the closure is heartbreaking, we have skied here since 1964 but our kids won’t have that chance”. The local council has been accused of incompetence and being bad managers.
Faced with a barage of criticism the mayor, Serge Cettour-Meunier, replied “people have to understand that things change, apart from doubling council tax we couldn’t cover the debts”.
Bad snow last winter was the coup de grace. Running costs were 640,000 euros per year, half the annual budget for the village. An MOT test for the cable car will also cost 175,000 euros.
The department refused to subsidise “a money pit” however they have offered money to reorientate the tourist offer on a more modest scale with a learner ski area on the Plain d’Offaz. The ski resort of Chatel is then just 20 minutes by road.
The future seems to be cultural activities as well as snow shoeing and ski touring. The area is well known to backcountry enthusiasts. The 15th century church with its onion spire has frescos by Giacomo Jacquerio - artist for the court of the Savoy.
A dozen resorts in the Haute-Savoie face bankruptcy. M. Serge Cettour-Meunier predicts “We have made a first step but many will follow us. Or as the Daube puts it, it is like Danton’s last words to Robespierre on the Guillotine “I warn you Maximilien, it will be your turn soon”.
My Goodle news alerts has been pulling in an Associated Press story on Abondance (looks to be largely ripped from this site) that has beern appearing in mainstream media around the world over the past fortnight. It is very much “global warming closes French ski area.” This may or may not be the case but it’s a pity the way global media will focus on somewhere in the Alps and ignore the ski area in marginal locations on other continents that have also closed in recent years. It’s written to make it look like this is a French problem and that skiing in France is under thrreat, whilst the rest of the worlds is fine, apparently.
You are not the only one to tell me about the AP story. The news about Abondance wasn’t exactly a secret although I’ve known for a couple of years that the commune would have to take a tough decision so was checking the council minutes for news. It may be that the AP people used PisteHors for background research (quite a lot of media outlets from the BBC onwards do this). The information about St Pierre de Chartreuse:
was less well known though. The AP article is wrong though. Abondance is not the first French alpine resort to have suffered from climate change. St Honore and Chambon des Neiges being one of a number of precedents
although there are a number of other abandonned resorts built in the euphoria of the 1970s.
Thanks for the comment.
The mayor of Abondance may have had some regrets over the closure of the Essert ski area (note that the Chapelle d’Abondance is still operating) this Christmas with the good conditions but he maintains that the problems which lead to the closure still exist.
However the area has found new life as a sledging center aimed at young kids. There is a carpet lift and center, called the Ludoffaz, offers sledging, tubing, airboards and snake’gliss.
A sad moment for Abonance, last Thursday they finally signed a contract to convert away from alpine skiing with the Haute-Savoie conseil général. It really is the end of the road for the Essert ski area (note la Chapelle d’Abondance is still operating and has recently installed a new six seater chair). Abondance is now focussing on a snow park aimed at children (see comments above). The contract will entitle them to state aid to further this and other none-ski related objectives. Given this year’s poor snow in mid-mountain areas they are probably relieved they have made this difficult step.