Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Frozen: wolves, chairlifts and half-term holidays
The weather is changing at Les Arcs. It's been sunny and cold for the last few days, perfect winter weather. A new depression is on the way and it looks certain to snow down to all levels by the end of the weekend. We still do have plenty of snow, and the cold conditions have preserved it well, but a new layer is always welcome.
We're getting ready to say goodbye to our Russian guests at the end of the week, with a 'gala fondue night' planned for Friday. We shall be sad to see them go, they have been perfect for the chalet. The next week, the third week of January, is often a very quiet time both in the chalet and on the slopes. So a chance for us to recharge the batteries after a hectic start to the season and get ready for the February holiday onslaught. But if you fancy a cheap few days skiing, do get in touch.
For children in French schools, the half-term vacation starts on 11th February and goes on to 11th March; the country is split into three geographical regions (A, B and C), each of which gets two weeks holiday. These 2 week periods are staggered, and overlap by a week. So unlike in Britain and Holland, who both tend to have the same one-week holiday (this year beginning 16th February), there is less strain on the roads, airports, railways and, of course, ski resorts.
Perhaps if more people in Britain were skiers (France has about 5 million 'active' skiers as opposed to less than 1 million in the UK) the British authorities would take the same approach. Once again we expect the 8 hour traffic jams in and out of the valley on 16th and 23rd February, to say nothing of crowded pistes and inflated prices.
A few years ago there did at least seem to be a 'north/south divide' over 2 weeks, but that doesn't seem to happen anymore. If the Minister of Education was a skier, (although Michael Gove is a scot, so he should be!) maybe he would find a fairer way to encourage young people and their families to enjoy skiing holiday at a reasonable cost and in easier circumstances introducing a staggered system á la francaise.