There has been plenty of fresh snow on French ski slopes over the past 72 hours, welcome news after conditions became a little too mild at the end of last week. More than 50 top French ski areas have reported at least 30cm (afoot) of new snow since Sunday, dramatically improving conditions with powder everywhere.

La Toussuire  has had the most (60cm) with Chatel in second place with 50cm. La Clusaz, Les Arcs , La Plagne , Serre Chevalier  and Tignes  all report at least 40cm (16 inches).

The deepest snow in the country – 2.1m (seven feet) is to be found at Flaine , La Rosiere  and again Serre Chevalier.

The best skiers in various ski disciplines are in France over the next few weeks competing in world class competition.

 First up are the World Cup Ski Cross Championships underway in Alpe d’Huez, which has decided to create a permanent base for fans of this exciting sport which was the main sensation of the 2010 Olympics last year. The resort has a local star in the shape of the seven time World Champion Ophelie David!

For those not in resort to watch the spectacle you can make an online descent of the course at alpedhuez.com – probably not quite the same thing.

Then next weekend (22nd January) the fourth edition of the Freeride World Tour (www.freerideworldtour.com) kicks off at the planet’s extreme snow sports capital, Chamonix. Along with the thrills and spills in the mountains there’s a whole lot more happening down in resort including a contest village, street fair, prize giving ceremonies, freeride film nights, rider autograph sessions, freeride with a pro and of course the official Freeride World Tour party.

More traditional downhill ski racers are also popping up in France, following Courchevel’s recent re-introduction of World Cup ski racing, its Three Valleys neighbour Meribel will be up next with the Alpine Skiing European Cup on 27th-28th January which it’s preparing for now.

In Flaine next week however the main event is indoors with Flaine Poker Nights running from 15th to 21st January. If you’re in resort you’ll not only be enjoying the country’s deepest snow at present in the famous giant powder bowl, but in the evenings you can come and experience what Flaine describes as, “The thrill of adrenaline-packed fun poker nights!

Along with special tournaments there’ll be a Sit ’n Go, Ladies’ night with a range of prizes (but no cash) to be won including holidays, weekend breaks, ski passes and ski accessories.

In fact Poker seems to be getting ever more popular in France as another resort, Montgenèvre on the Italian border, runs its own Montgenèvre Poker Tour from the 16th to 22nd January on a very similar theme, and there have been several other big French resorts doing the same.

But if you want to just enjoy the fresh snow, now is a really good time to do it. The Western European and now the later Russian New Year holiday periods are behind us, the snow is freshly fallen, the crowds have gone, the prices are as low as they get and in three weeks it all gets busy again when the French school holidays kick off!

Posted by Patrick Thorne on Friday 14 Jan 2011

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