It was ‘Groundhog Day’ in the States this week and those who have been staying out in the French Alps for the past month may be getting a feeling of déjà-vu as they look out at the snow and see a familiar picture of sunshine, blue skies and pristine mountain scenery.

Those hungry for powder and indeed those with lower altitude ski runs will be wishing for a big fall of snow, but everyone else will be happy with the hard packed pistes and good weather. Snow depths remain up towards two metres on upper runs in the big resorts so snow shortage is not a problem, only freshness is.

That’s in the Alps, not in the Pyrenees, where resorts did get some big falls of snow – up to 60cm - last week.

The situation was summed up by a spokesman from snow reporting agency www.skiinfo.co.uk’s French office, “It’s only two weeks before the main winter school holiday in Franceand although thinner than usual, the snow cover is still very good at high altitude (up to 215 cm at top of slopes in Isola 2000) and reasonable at medium altitude. At the base of the slopes the average snow depth in the Southern Alps is 48cm and in the Northern Alps and Pyrenees 35cm.”

The big event of the past week was the world cup downhill in Chamonix which attracted 40,000 fans to see the action. Next week its slalom and giant slalom stages of the European Cup taking place in Meribel on February 8 and 9th.

Looking ahead to later in the season, the giant Portes du Soleil have announced a new series of free concerts during the first full week of April which will see skiers and boarders whizzing around the vast area with its 650km of pistes linking up more than a dozen resorts on each side of the French-Swiss border, among them Avoriaz, Morzine, Les Gets and Chatel.

The idea is that you register your mobile number at www.portesdusoleil.com for the Go Wild Music Festival which runs from 2nd to 9th April, and you’ll receive a text message each day saying who’s performing and where. They will mostly be gigs on the piste by French and, we’re promised, international musicians.

“We are really excited. The public are in for an amazing surprise every day. With locations and artists to take your breath away, each concert will be an incredible multi-sensory experience.” promises Bruno Cherblanc, Director of the Association Internationale des Portes du Soleil. Better still, lift pass prices will be down 10% that week.

Posted by Patrick Thorne on Monday 07 Feb 2011

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