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French ski resorts announce opening dates despite lack of snow

France’s ski resorts have announced their opening dates amid worries over unseasonably warm temperatures and a lack of snow.

French ski resorts announce opening dates despite lack of snow

The unseasonably warm October, on the heels of a meltingly hot summer in France, and after a mild spring has left ski resort bosses looking nervously at the weather forecasts ahead of the start of the ski season.

Glacier skiing during the Toussaint holiday period has been off the table this year after Tignes and Deux-Alpes resorts decided to remain closed because of a lack of snow.

Frédéric Porte, director of the Tignes ski resort, told Le Figaro that “below-average snowfall last winter, a mild spring and a scorching summer” were to blame for the decision not to open the glaciers for skiing in late October.  “Snowfalls at the end of September were not enough,” he added. 

But resorts still intend to open for the main ski season – with Chamonix expected to open from December 3rd, Val Thorens on November 19th and Tignes on November 26th.

Stations in the Pyrenees, meanwhile, are set to start opening from the end of the month, with Cauterets partially opening from the weekend of November 26th. 

Other resorts – including a number of Pyreneean ‘heavyweights’ plan to open by the first weekend of December – Luz-Ardiden, Peyragudes, Piau-Engaly, Grand Tourmalet, Pic du Midi, and Ax 3 Domaines all plan to open around December 2nd or 3rd.

Several resorts are also changing their ski lift operations as part of France’s winter energy-saving plan. The Puigmal 2900 station in the Pyrénées-Orientales, has already announced a drop in speed of its ski lifts this year, which will also close three times a week.

According to Météo France’s long-range forecast, the winter of 2022-2023 should remain within seasonal expectations, while the south of the country can expect a relatively dry three months between November and January.

“The most likely scenario for the November-December 2022-January 2023 quarter is the predominance of anticyclonic conditions, with calm and dry weather, over the European continent,” Météo-France said in its quarterly report.

“Disturbances will tend to be further north of Europe or southwest of the Mediterranean.”

Météo-France’s climate models suggest there’s a one-in-five “chance” of a colder-than-normal winter, compared to a 30 percent chance of a “warmer” winter. And, a 50 percent chance that the next three months will follow seasonal norms.

Winter 2021 was one of the wettest in history, but the forecaster said that it was unlikely the next three months would follow the same pattern, especially in the south of the country.

“A drier-than-normal scenario is likely from the eastern Mediterranean to central Europe and northeastern France, while a wet scenario is more likely over northern Europe and the western Mediterranean,” forecasters explain, with the usual warnings that they are unable to predict daily or weekly weather conditions in a 90-day trends forecast.

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For members


9 new train routes in France in 2024

There will be several new offers for both domestic and international train trips in France in 2024. 

9 new train routes in France in 2024

SNCF lower-speed trains

France’s national rail service plans to offer three new low-cost, slower speed trains – not to exceed 160 km/h – in parallel with their high-speed, TGV offerings. These are expected to be put into service in the final months of 2024.

Paris-Rennes –  About four hours, in comparison to the usual 1 hour and thirty minutes on TGV lines. It will pass through Massy-Palaiseau, Versailles, Chartres, Le Mans and Laval.

Paris-Bordeaux – About five hours (compared to a little over two hours on a high-speed line). It will also pass through Juvisy, Les Aubrais, Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, Futuroscope, Poitiers and Angoulême stations.

Paris-Brussels  – Approximately three hours (just under 1 hour and 30 minutes for the TGV). As of August 2023, the proposed stops for this line were Creil and Aulnoye-Aymeries in France, and Mons in Belgium. However, this may still be subject to change, according to Geo.Fr

Tickets will range from €10 to a €49 maximum for adults.

High-speed trains

Paris-Madrid – Italy’s Trenitalia already runs a route between Barcelona and Madrid, but in 2024 it wants to add a Paris-Barcelona route that would create a direct connection between Paris and Madrid.

It’s scheduled to be in operation by the end of 2024. 

READ MORE: Train travel from France to Spain: Everything you need to know

Paris-Berlin – France and Germany are collaborating to put a new TGV route between the capital cities. The journey would take around seven hours, and it is expected to launch sometime in 2024, according to Forbes. A direct night train route between Paris and Berlin launches on December 11th 2023, and the daytime service is expected towards the end of 2024. 

Paris-Bourg Saint Maurice – the low-cost rail service Ouigo launches on December 10th a new budget-friendly line running from the capital to Bourg Saint Maurice (popularly known as Bourg), which is located in Savoie. This is expected to run daily during the winter season.

Paris Roissy-Toulon – Another low-cost offer, Ouigo will launch on December 10th 2023 a high-speed low-cost route going between the Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport and the port city on the Mediterranean. It will pass through Marne La-Vallée Chessy, Lyon Saint-Exupéry, and Aix-en-Provence TGV before arriving in Toulon.

Night trains

Paris-Berlin – The Paris-Berlin night train begins on December 11th 2023. It will initially be a three-train-a-week service before becoming daily in October 2024. It will stop at Strasbourg, Mannheim, Erfurt and Halle.

Paris-Aurillac – This Intercités line will also be introduced on December 10th 2023 and will be available in 2024. It will run from the capital city to the Auvergne region, and it will pass through the following stations: Saint-Denis-Près-Martel, Bretenoux-Biars, Laroquebrou and Aurillac.

Other transport plans for 2024

In a December interview with Franceinfo, the French transport minister, Clément Beaune, repeated his interest in creating France’s version of the German €49-a-month train ticket. This would allow users to have unlimited use of TER and Intercités trains, and would be similarly priced to the German plan.

Beaune said this would be created “by the summer of 2024”.

He also announced that train ticket prices for Intercités (classic, non-high speed lines connecting cities) and Ouigo (the low-cost high speed rail service) would not increase in price in 2024.

READ MORE: France to freeze ticket prices on some rail services in 2024

What about 2025?

TGV M – Hailed the train of the future, the fifth-generation high-speed train, TGV M, will have a maximum capacity of 740 seats (compared to the 630 on current TGV models). It will consume 20 percent less energy than current TGVS, according to Ouest France. It is set to be introduced in early 2025.

Paris-Venice – Initially, the rail company Midnight Trains, which plans to offer new ‘hotels on rails’ (eg, night trains with more luxurious features, such as real beds and sound proof walls), was hoping to launch its Paris-Venice night train in 2024. However, according to Euronews, this is now set for 2025. It is expected to go through Milan.

In the coming years, France is hoping to expand its internal night train network to a total of 10 lines, according to French transport minister Clément Beaune.

Paris-London – a rail startup named Evolyn says it plans to bid to run a London-Paris service to rival Eurostar, with 2025 as a desired start date. However, the bid is in the very early stages.