What to do on Bad Weather Days in the French Alps
16th January 2018 | French Alps
If you’ve been living under a rock recently, then it will have been submerged in the unprecedented amounts of snowfall across the Alps this season, and that would be the only way you won’t have seen the dramatic weather cycles we’ve been experiencing. For the first time in years businesses are coming up with weather contingencies, with the threat of disruption due to snow much more real than it has been the last few winters. The unbelievable part is that the snow just keeps coming. Now you certainly won’t catch me complaining about the snow anytime soon, so instead we’re going to embrace it and give you a little round up of what’s been happening in all of the resorts we cover at Free Spirit Alpine; and, importantly, what to do if the weather does force closure of the lifts. Especially important if travelling with children!
Across all of the resorts you have options which are available all season round. It is worth remembering that resorts will often open certain things, such as the pool or bowling, earlier on in the day than normal if there is extreme weather.
If you’re a group of adults and fancy indulging in a long lunch ensure you book as soon as possible and make sure there isn’t a time limit on your table to stretch it out into the afternoon. To roll this out across the day, choose a restaurant located in the central town area of your resort and take the afternoon to stroll around the shops – remembering most of them will close across lunchtime.
In all resorts there is, of course, somewhere you can venture to with a toboggan or a bumboard. Although some resorts certainly do it better than others, naming Courchevel here with their new luge all the way down to 1550. Of course, in certain weather even the sledging areas will be shut, or the snow will be pelting your face at such a force that you’ll decide venturing outside is not an option.
When the snow does fall one of my favourite things to do is walk. It’s so magical when everything is covered in snow and I’d recommend you hire snowshoes. Most ski hire shops will rent them out for around €15 a day and if there are high winds then hiding in the trees is always a good option. Make sure you take plenty of layers to allow for drastic temperature changes and keep yourself warm!
Snow level at Resort Level 1450m: 109cm
Snow level at Resort Summit 2700m: 262cm
Méribel has seen winds of 73km/h this season, leading to some lift closures, and on one exceptional day, closure of the entire resort.
In Méribel there are a huge variety of options, with the Olympique Centre housing the majority of them. From bowling to a big swimming pool with slides to ice skating, they have it all. They usually adapt opening hours due to weather. There is enough to keep even the most active of children busy. For adults, there is a spa in the centre too, or for a more luxurious experience head to the high-end hotels and use their spa for a premium, which is well worth it!
Snow Level at Resort Level 1850m: 168cm
Snow Level at Resort Summit 2700m: 235cm
Courchevel has been experiencing much the same as Méribel, being of similar height and so close together. Courchevel are brilliant at putting on extra activities for children in case of weather, this winter having been putting on extra movie screenings and opening kids areas throughout the day. One of the big advantages of this area, though, has to be Aquamotion. Purpose built, it’s a fantastic centre housing a huge indoor/outdoor pool, wave machine, surf simulator and full size climbing wall. This is well worth a visit with children both small and large, whether bad weather or not!
St Martin de Belleville
Snow Level at Resort 1450m: 141cm
Snow Level at Summit 2850m: 263cm
St Martin is primarly a fantastic family resort, and so during bad weather they are ready set up. Check out their activities here, including their popular children’s shows which change frequently.
They also host a fabulous museum which holds various themed events, or is good for an afternoon of perusing if you don’t feel like going up the hill. For adults, there is a Spa too, which will smooth away any aches and pains you’ve accumulated from the powder!
Snow Level at Resort 1850m: 208cm
Snow Level at Summit 3000m: 315cm
Storming ahead on snow level is Val d’Isère, and I can honestly say winning by a clear mile. I thought Méribel had a lot of snow until I visited Val d’Isère! Banks higher than your head and whole roundabouts have been submerged in the village alone. With a whole host of activities on offer in this all-round resort, you can’t go far wrong whether you’re skiing or not. Their ice skating rink, however, is outside – so potentially one of the activities to avoid in heavy snowfall! Opt instead for dog sledding, ice diving or ice climbing (maybe not in high winds!) or huddle away in one of their many Michelin star restaurants.
Snow Level at Resort 1800m: 170cm
Snow Level at Summit 2460m: 255cm
Morzine Avoriaz is undeniably the ultimate family resort. I personally holidayed there every year as a child, and absolutely loved every second of it. The resort understands its strengths as a family resort and plays to it well, even winning awards for their family areas and events.
As well as the events catered to family, they also host activities such as yoga classes, which you can dip into on your holiday, and for those fancying something a little bit different, ski-joering (imagine being pulled on a sledge behind a horse!).
I approached each of the above resorts to ask about refunds if the whole resort closes. As it’s such a rarity, each of the resorts said individuals should contact the liftpass office of their area in that eventuality for information about refunds being offered.
Whether the weather is fabulous or stinky. Whether you fancy a day out of your ski boots or the kids are just too tired to ski, there is always plenty on offer. For a day in the chalet, check out our previous blog on how to make the most of home comforts on offer. For up to date events and activities, just keep an eye on the resort’s website or their social media pages.