For members


What can I do if I’ve booked a French skiing holiday and there’s no snow?

Nearly half of France's ski resorts are currently closed because of a lack of snow following an unseasonably warm New Year - so what should you do if you have a skiing holiday booked? And will travel insurance cover no snow?

What can I do if I've booked a French skiing holiday and there's no snow?
A stopped chairlift at Le Semnoz ski resort, near Annecy, as the resort had to close temporarily due to the lack of snow. Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP

Resorts in the Alps, Pyrenees and Jura have been forced to close over the past week as unseasonably warm temperatures melted the snow.

Historically, people who want to ensure good snow have been advised to book in the coldest months of January and February, with the February school holidays a peak time for ski resorts and school ski trips.

So does this advice still hold up as the planet warms and the Alps see less and less snow?


There’s no doubt that the long-term trend is towards many snow-free Alpine areas – over the past century the average temperature in the Alps has risen by 2C, almost double the global temperature rise.

Rising temperatures mean melting glaciers, a rising snow level (meaning, snow falls only at higher altitudes) and a shorter ski season.

In the long term, National Geographic predicts a 50 percent reduction in snow in the Alps by 2100.

In addition to closures because of a lack of snow, rising temperatures also mean a higher risk of avalanches, so even resorts that do have snow see more temporary closures due to avalanche risk.

READ ALSO How climate change left French ski resorts fighting for survival

Short term

But what about the rest of the 2023 season?

French weather forecaster Météo France predicts that temperatures will fall again by the middle of January, and ski resorts are pinning their hopes on more snow which will allow them to reopen and take advantage of the February bookings. 

The European long-range forecast suggests that spring will be warmer than normal, so the ski season is likely to end early.


As temperatures rise so does the snow level, and so the altitude of the resort becomes increasingly important.

With the current average winter temperatures snowfall becomes erratic at below 2,000 metres and of the resorts that have closed their doors permanently, almost all are below 1,500 metres. Since 1951 a total of 169 resorts have closed for good, according to a study by the University of Grenoble – half of them because of a lack of snow.

Some of France’s biggest resorts including Val Thorens, Tignes and Val d’Isere stand above 2,000 metres altitude and therefore have fewer problems with snowfall (for now).

High altitude to family-friendly – 15 of the best French ski resorts


Back in the 1980s, some of the lower-altitude French resorts began using artificial snow machines in order to boost the snow coverage.

The resort of Montclar was one of the areas that invested big money in ‘snow guns’ that kick in automatically to boost snow coverage on the pistes. However it is increasingly becoming too warm for the snow machines to operate, while there are rising concerns about the environmental impact of the extremely energy-heavy machines.

Instead, faced with an increasingly unreliable snowfall, many French ski resorts are diversifying and offering alternative activities for days when skiing is not possible – from snowshoeing, luge and paragliding to spas and shopping.

In some areas, ski lifts have been opened to hikers and many resorts are promoting the year-round joys of Alps and their attractions for hikers, cyclists and extreme sports fans.

Local authorities in the Alps are running an ‘Obsolete Installations’ campaign in which workers dismantle ski lifts that have been left to rust in the closed-down lower-altitude resorts. Twenty old ski lifts have been dismantled since 2001.


But if you had your heart set on skiing, can you get your money back if you cancel?

As ever, it’s all in the small print of your travel insurance policy but in most cases the answer is no.

Some specialist travel insurance policies have ‘piste closure coverage’ that kicks in if the piste in your resort is closed for any reason – too little snow, avalanche risk, etc. However this is a small daily payment (usually between €10 and €50 a day) that is intended to cover the cost of travelling to a neighbouring resort to ski or snowboard.

Some policies will also refund specific things like the cost of ski passes or ski lessons if slopes are closed.

However virtually no policies cover the cost of cancelling that holiday altogether – including flights or accommodation – due to a lack of snow.  

Since the pandemic, some tourism operators – especially small businesses like chalet hire – still offer free cancellation or postponement, so check the details of your booking.

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For members


Protests, flight cancellations and fuel: What to expect this weekend in France

As citizens across France express their anger over pension reform, the country has grappled with more protests and rolling strikes, impacting key sectors like waste collection and fuel. Here's what to expect over the next week.

Protests, flight cancellations and fuel: What to expect this weekend in France

Protests have erupted across France in recent days, after French president Emmanuel Macron’s government pushed pension reform through parliament, using the controversial Article 49.3 tool to bypass a vote in the Assemblée Nationale.

Hundreds of protesters have been arrested, as some protests have turned violent and there have also been allegations of police violence.

Unions and opposition leaders have promised more action in the coming days, with hopes of pushing the government to withdraw the unpopular reform.

Here is what you can expect for the days ahead in France:


There are no mass demos planned on Saturday but smaller, sporadic demos are likely across France.

Trains – In terms of transport, France’s national rail service, SNCF, has announced that rail travel will continue to be disrupted throughout the country due to strike action. On Friday, three out of four high-speed TGV trains ran according to normal schedules.

READ MORE: Calendar: The latest French pension strike dates to remember

Those who plan to travel by rail on Saturday should received a text message or email from SNCF by Friday evening if their train is affected by delays or cancellations.

Paris public transport has been largely running as normal outside the planned strike days, but police do sometimes close stations for security reasons if there are protests ongoing. To keep up to date, you can download apps such as Bonjour RATP or Citymapper.

International lines, such as Eurostar, have not yet announced any cancellations for the weekend. Only one train was cancelled on Friday. Eurostar has said they will update this page if any new cancellations are to be announced.

Flights – France’s civil aviation authority (DGAC) has asked airlines to pre-emptively cancel 15 percent flights arriving and departing from the Paris-Orly airport, and 20 percent from the Marseille-Provence, Bordeaux, and Lyon airports in the face of possible weekend strike action. Typically, flights cancelled are primarily domestic, rather than long-haul. 

Fuel and driving – oil refinery workers are continuing their strikes and blockades and about 15 percent of French fuel stations were short at least one type of fuel on Friday morning. However, the situation varies geographically – France’s south, southeast and west have been the most impacted so far, while the south-west and north-eastern parts of the country have been less affected.

READ MORE: MAP: Where in France are blockades causing fuel shortages?

Union representatives have said they hope to “hold out until the reform is withdrawn”, meaning action is likely to continue through the weekend.

To keep track of traffic forecasts in France, you can use the country’s traffic watchdog, Bison Futé. On Friday, forecasts for the weekend were ‘green’ (for normal).

If you are driving in the Paris area, the government site Sytadin also updates with real-time estimations.

Waste collection – Members of the union representing public garbage collectors for the city of Paris voted to renew their rolling strike until at least Monday, March 27th.

As of Friday, there were still around 9,000 tonnes of refuse on the cities’ streets, which represents a slight decrease from the previous figure of 10,000 tonnes. Local authorities have begun requisitioning workers, but progress has been slow and Paris officials estimate that it may take up to two weeks to clear the garbage off the streets.


On Sunday, similar disruptions can be expected on French national rail services. If your train is cancelled or delayed, you should receive information from SNCF at least 24 hours in advance. 

As for flights, the DGAC has asked airlines to cancel 33 percent of flights at the Paris-Orly airport, and 20 percent at the Lyon-Saint-Exupéry and Marseille-Provence airports.

READ MORE: Should you cancel a trip to France because of strikes and demos?


France’s Civil Aviation authority (DGAC) asked airlines to cancel 20 percent of flights at the Paris-Orly airport and the Marseille-Provence airport on Monday. Trains may also see some disruption but other services such as city public transport are likely to run as normal.

There are no large demos or marches scheduled for Monday.


The eight main union federations announced a new day of mobilisation on Tuesday, March 28th. As such, you can expect demos across French cities, and that national rail services and city public transport will be disrupted. During the last day of action, on March 23rd, at least one million people across France took to the streets, according to estimations by the French government.

Precise details of disruptions will be released on Monday – check HERE for the latest information.

READ MORE: Reader Question: Can I take a taxi during a French strike?

Wednesday – Friday

Depending on the outcome of strike action on Tuesday, there may be continued spontaneous protests across the country later in the week. 

As several unions have announced that they will continue action until the reform is withdrawn, rolling strikes in oil refineries, waste collection, and transport could continue, should striking workers vote to do so.

Keep an eye on our strike section for all the latest developments.