France launches ski safety campaign after rising number of accidents

Injuries and even deaths while skiing in France have seen a sharp rise in recent years - leading the French government to create a new ski safety campaign.

France launches ski safety campaign after rising number of accidents
Skiers at La Mauselaine ski area in Gerardmer, eastern France, on January 26, 2023. (Photo by Jean-Christophe Verhaegen / AFP)

The early part of the ski season in France was dominated by headlines over the lack of snow in popular mountain resorts – but, now that climatic conditions have started to improve for skiers and there is at least some snow, the winter sports season is in gearing up to hit full swing.

READ ALSO Snow latest: Have France’s ski resorts reopened?

Heading into the winter holiday season – French schools in ‘Zone A’ break up for two weeks on February 4th, followed on February 11th by schools in ‘Zone B’, while schools in Zone C finish for the vacation on February 18th – the government has launched an awareness campaign highlighting skiing good practice and how to avoid accidents.

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

The Pratiquer l’hiver campaign has advice, posters and videos highlighting safety on the slopes, in an effort to reduce the number of accidents on France’s mountains – where, every year, between 42,000 and 51,000 people have to be rescued, according to the Système National d’Observation de la Sécurité en Montagne (SNOSM)

The campaign, with information in a number of languages including English, covers:

  • on-piste and off-piste safety advice (signalling, avalanche risks, freestyle areas, snowshoes, ski touring, etc.);
  • Help and instructions for children explained in a fun and educational way (educational games, games of the 7 families to be cut out, safety quizzes, advice sheets for sledding, skiing, prevention clips, etc.);
  • physical preparation (warm up before exercise, prepare your muscles and stretch well, also how to adapt the choice of pistes and the speed to your physical condition);
  • equipment and safety (helmet, goggles, sunscreen, etc.);
  • marking and signalling on the slopes (opening and marking of green, blue, red and black slopes, off-piste).

There are 220 ski resorts in France, the world’s second largest ski area, covering more than 26,500 hectares of land, across 30 departements.

In the 2021/22 ski season, totalling 53.9 million ‘ski days’, according to SNOSM, emergency services made 49,622 interventions in France’s ski areas, and 45,985 victims were treated for injuries.

The results show an increase in the number of interventions by ski safety services – a rise of 13 percent compared to the average of the five years prior to the pandemic – and the number of injured, up 8 percent. 

A few incidents on the slopes made the headlines at the time, including the five-year-old British girl who died after an adult skier crashed into her in the Alpine resort of Flaine, and the French actor Gaspard Ulliel, who died at the age of 37 after an accident while skiing in La Rosière, Savoie.

In total, 12 people died as a result of skiing incidents in France in the 2021/22 ski season. Three died following collisions between skiers, two after hitting an obstacle, and seven as a result of a fall or solo injuries. SNOSM also reported “a significant number of non-traumatic deaths, mostly due to cardiac problems” on France’s ski slopes.

The injuries due to solo falls – which represent 95 percent of all injuries –  on the ski slopes increased 2 percent compared to winter 2018/2019. Collisions between users fell, however (4.8 percent against . 5.6 percent) as did collisions between skiers and other people, and obstacles (0.7 percent compared to 0.85 percent).

The number of fatalities caused by avalanches, however, is at a historic low over the period 2011 to 2021, in part because of a relative lack of snow – leading to a drop in the number of avalanches and fewer people going off-piste, while awareness campaigns are hitting their mark, according to SNOSM.

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How and where can I get a flu vaccine in France?

Looking to get a flu shot in France and not sure how to go about it? Here is what you need to know about the autumn 2023 campaign.

How and where can I get a flu vaccine in France?

France will begin its seasonal flu vaccination campaign in mid October. Every year there are sight variations to the practicalities of the campaign, so there’s how things will work in 2023.


In France, health authorities recommend that high-risk groups get the jab – but anyone who wants the shot can get it.

Members of high-risk groups should receive a flu vaccine voucher (bon de prise en charge), which you can take to a pharmacist who will provide you with a vaccine free of charge. 

Previously, the French government has defined high-risk groups as older people (over 65s), people with certain chronic illnesses (list here), pregnant women, obese people and caregivers who work with vulnerable populations.

People who fit the description of ‘high-risk’ ought to receive a voucher, xxxxx but if this is your first time getting a flu shot in France, or you haven’t your voucher yet, you can visit your doctor who can prescribe it for you. Then you can bring that prescription to the pharmacist who will provide you with the vaccine.

For high-risk people, the flu vaccine is free of charge.

What about people who are not ‘high-risk’?

Although not specifically recommended, the vaccine is open to anyone who wants it. In previous years, France instituted ‘priority period’ during the first couple of weeks of the campaign when it was only open to those in high risk groups, before opening up the shots to everyone. 

However, health authorities have indicated that the 2023-2024 season will do away with the ‘prioritisation period’, meaning anyone, regardless of risk level, can get the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

The difference is that those not considered to be in a high-risk group will have to pay for their vaccine, and in previous years, the flu vaccine has not been reimbursed by French social security. Full details of the 2023 campaign are yet to be confirmed, but there is no indication that this will change this year.

During the 2022-2023 season, the cost for a non-priority person varied between €6 and €10 depending on the pharmacy.

Where can I get a flu vaccine?

Doctors, midwives, nurses and pharmacists can administer flu vaccines, and the most common place to get it is at the pharmacy.

Ask your pharmacist if they are available for walk-in vaccine appointments, as many are. If this is not available, they may ask you to make an appointment, which you can likely do on the spot. 

If you want to be vaccinated outside of a pharmacy, you will still have to go to pick up the vaccine. You will then take it with you to your appointment with your doctor, midwife or nurse. If you are not going directly to your appointment after picking up the vaccine, be sure to keep it cool and refrigerated. 

Appointments for flu vaccines can be made online at Doctolib.

When can I get a flu vaccine?

France typically runs its seasonal flu vaccination campaign starting the autumn and running until March. For 2023, it will begin on October 17th for all groups.

Can I get a Covid-19 and flu shot at the same time?

Health authorities recommend that those in at-risk groups get both Covid-19 and flu jabs, and they have specified that there are no health risks of doing both vaccines at the same time.

The Covid vaccination campaign begins on Monday, October 2nd.

READ MORE: France’s autumn 2023 Covid vaccine booster campaign ‘will be open to all’

Like the flu vaccination, it is recommended that high-risk groups get a Covid vaccine booster – but it remains your choice whether you get one, both or neither.

What about children?

The general seasonal flu vaccination campaign is aimed at adults, but the French Haute autorité de santé recommends that all children over the age of 2 with “co-morbidities” get a seasonal influenza vaccine, meaning children in high-risk groups would also receive a voucher to get a flu shot. 

You can also ask your doctor for a prescription for a vaccination if your children are in a high-risk group. 

As for who can vaccinate them, doctors are qualified to vaccinate all minors, including those under the age of 11. Midwives can also vaccinate any minor who is recommended to get a flu vaccine. 

As of August 2023, both nurses and pharmacists in France gained the ability to prescribe and administer 14 different vaccines – including the one against seasonal influenza – to anyone over the age of 11. As such, minors above 11 can get a flu vaccine in a pharmacy, but those under the age of 11 cannot.