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All the latest news from around the Three Valleys from the La Tania locals. A real blog since 2006, not just endless re-posts for search engine optimisaton! Photos, gossip, snow reports, what's on and all the latest on the Apres Ski scene... Now fully optimised for iPhone, Touch and Android Mobiles - just go to latania.co.uk/blog and view on your phone. Our other past blogs & favourites here

 


 

French PM: “Early Feb” Ski Resort opening possible, Bars/Restaurants closed to mid-Feb, UK border remains closed & more…

There will be no reopening of bars and restaurants before “at least mid-February” . There will be a point on January 20 to see if an “early February” reopening of theaters, cinemas, ski resorts and ski lifts is possible. The Prime Minister also announced that the border with the United Kingdom will remain closed “until further notice” and that the incredibly slow vaccination roll out will be sorted out.

From France 24 tonightFull auto-translation below
Curfews, vaccines, prospects for cultivation, catering or even ski resorts … Prime Minister Jean Castex has drawn up an inventory of health measures, while the Covid-19 epidemic is still circulating actively in France. Follow his press conference alongside the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran.

While more than 25,000 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in 24 hours in France, the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, in a press conference with the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, defended the government’s vaccine strategy and attempted to “give as much visibility as possible” to the most affected sectors, including catering, culture and tourism.

Details were also provided on France’s vaccine strategy, which is the subject of criticism, as well as on the new health measures put in place to fight against the spread of the virus.

There will be no reopening of bars and restaurants until “at least mid-February”. Ten more departments could see the curfew pass to 6 p.m. The decision will be made on Friday.

There will be a point on January 20 to see if a reopening “early February” of ski resorts and ski lifts is possible.

The vaccine is our “main source of hope” to emerge from this crisis, said Jean Castex. The objective of the French campaign remains to vaccinate as a priority and as quickly as possible the 15 million elderly or chronically ill people, announced the Prime Minister, while acknowledging that it had started more slowly than elsewhere. . “We have ordered a lot more than necessary” to have “a margin of safety”, he explained, specifying nevertheless that “Not everyone can be vaccinated immediately in France”. “We will be able to immunize a million people by the end of January.”

The Prime Minister underlined the gravity of the situation in France which is “far from having returned to normal” and which even “tends to progress with an average of 15,000 daily cases”. “We are seeing very strong pressure on our hospital system,” he continued, saying that the situation in the east of the country as well as in Guyana was particularly worrying.

All laboratories are mobilized in France to track down the variant of the coronavirus discovered in the United Kingdom and which is “up to 70% more contagious”, said Olivier Véran. Health Minister Olivier Véran explained that the English variant is “more contagious” and responsible for “a significant worsening of the epidemic in England”. It is also believed to be more contagious in children. The Prime Minister announced that the border with the United Kingdom will remain closed “until further notice”.

Ski Area access rules until lifts open – Ski Touring now restricted on Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri

There are new ski area access rules from 5 Jan 2021 until the ski lifts are allowed to open (no further information is available on when that might be – there could be an announcement on Thursday 7 Jan but still quite a few weeks away we expect).

The full decree from the Mairie de Courchevel can be downloaded here

In summary there are changes to the ski touring routes that were available on the Chenus, Signal and Biollay areas. Ski Touring will now only be available on the Signal and Chenus routes on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday.

Access to the ski slopes is forbidden to all except authorised workers, guides, instructors, race training, Club des Sports, coaches and those under instruction/being guided.

The exceptions are the uphill Millets and KV Plum touring routes, cross country routes and on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday the marked touring routes with ascents and descents around the Chenus and Signal areas. Map available here

Also allowed every day are the following authorised and organised activities on designated sites.

Fatbike / Mountain Biking

Snow Mobile

Sledging

Hiking / Snowshoes on 47km of tracks

Horse riding

Note that PIDA alerts will close the mountain to all but authorised workers when avalanche safety work is underway.

A few Brexit Deal notes: EHIC Still Valid, IDP Not Required & Mobile Roaming Continues

Christmas Morning at the Ski Lodge

As things begin to unravel…

From the BBC:
The deal on the future relationship between the EU and the UK was announced on 24 December. It says that all EHIC cards issued before the end of 2020 will be valid until their expiry date. After that, the UK will issue a new card. The UK government says the new card will be called the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Remember though that the EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance and never has been. Travel insurance has always been recommended for trips abroad with comprehensive Winter Sports cover for those going skiing.

Note however, that the existing EHIC does not cover you in Switzerland from 01 Jan 2021. More information at the NHS EHIC Page – note references to EHIC and GHIC will be changing from 4/1/21 but this site does have updated post Brexit Deal information – there’s a lot that don’t!

From the BBC:
In another development following the deal announcement, the UK Mission to the EU said people with a (photo card) driving licence issued in the UK would not need to use an International Drivers Licence (or International Driving Permit IDP) in the EU. No specific mention of Switzerland for those hiring cars from Geneva airport although we would expect the same rules as the EU.

From the BBC:
The four main operators in the UK declined to comment on the specifics of the commercial deals they have done with other operators, but said they did not plan to reintroduce roaming charges. Three, for example, has free roaming in over 70 countries including Australia and the USA so the commercials and competition mean that roaming charges wouldn’t return anyway.

Current Travel to France – “Essential Travel Only”:
The Attestation Document for International travel to France is available here (in English too!). We noted that there is a tick box for Season Workers among the many exclusions (or maybe inclusions as it’s for those who are allowed to travel). A negative test is required and rules apply until 6 January so far but may well be extended.

Update 28 Dec 2020:
Thanks to DW. “Update from Dover this morning: they are rapid testing everyone (for free) before entering the port. They wouldn’t even look at my previous negative test result. Almost nobody here so testing took barely half an hour and no queues at border control. French border control asked for a piece of paper with my name and french address on but did not ask for the formal Attestation.”

Qualifications etc:
Reciprocal professional qualifications will not be automatically recognised although it looks like previous ones will be and it’s now up to trade/professional bodies in the individual countries to sort out (it never applied to UK / France Ski Instruction qualifications anyway!).

Green Card:
The requirement to carry a “Green Card” (neither green or a card, just a print out of proof of EU insurance) looks like it is mandatory from 1/1/21 although it’s very unlikely it will be checked at the border. Some UK Insurance Companies are now offering the option for a simple download and print of your Green Card to meet these requirements.

Visas:
The 90/180 day long stay rules or long stay visa requirements will now apply but could be changed on a country by country basis (eg Cyprus / Croatia stays don’t apply). Short term visits to member states are mentioned in the agreement and it’s clear they will remain visa free for now although a visa waiver scheme ETIAS (€7 for 3 years) is already planned for 2022.

Air Travel:
Air travel is largely as is with current agreements continuing. A different passport queue at some airports for UK nationals but in reality queues are managed on a demand basis at most airports. You must make sure you have a least 6 months left to the expiry date on your UK passport for entry to all EU countries (except Ireland).

Pets Travelling to EU:
Pets can still travel to the EU although a different process / system has been put in place. An Animal Health Certificate (AHC) will now be required – more info at the gov.uk site here

Road Transportation of Passengers
There is a section in the agreement on the rules for road transportation of passengers (the effect on Ski Transfers / Coach Trips maybe?) but to be honest we didn’t really understand what the outcome would be. It may be that the UK CPC for transfer companies will not be valid from 1/1/21 even for existing holders – more to come on that no doubt.

Hopefully more will become clear in the next few days and weeks with probably a lot more details on other areas too – but life will go on…

Update 07 Jan 2021
The UK border to France remains closed. Castex update here
Only EU residents living in France or essential workers / hauliers etc allowed in – and all requiring a negative approved test within 72 hours prior to arrival. Airlines performing more rigorous checks than border forces or Ferries / Eurotunnel is what we’ve heard so far.

UK TV in France
With satellite footprints getting smaller and the advent of internet based TV services becoming the norm there are some new hurdles to jump come 01 Jan 2021. Services such as Sky Go, NOW TV and BBC iPlayer were authorised on UK roaming phone internet while in France. Some broadband providers would also allow UK TV to work without a VPN being required when EU made the change a couple of years ago.

The rise in VPN services available on all device such as Smart TVs and Amazon Firesticks used to be a simple way of circumnavigating any location restrictions however App based services (such as the iPlayer and NOW TV player) started to detect VPN traffic and block access – even if it was a legit work based VPN. A work around for the iPlayer is to simply use a browser at bbc.co.uk/iplayer when the App based service fails.

From 1/1/21 the location based blocking is back and a VPN is required. For App based services even tethering a UK roaming phone to a Smart TV doesn’t work – the full solution is to get a VPN installed on your router then devices with App based serves connecting to the router will continue to work.

Speeding Tickets
Back in 2015 an agreement was made to exchange information on drivers across the EU so triggering a speed camera in France would mean getting a letter to your home address in the UK.

Hire car firms sometime pay up straight away and then charge your credit card (plus an admin fee) or sometimes just give your address details to the relevant authorities.

It was never that clear what would happen if you didn’t pay when a foreign police force was trying to fine you. They didn’t get your passport details apparently so you wouldn’t be stopped at the border if you had outstanding fines. Whether they all would chase the fine was uncertain but being stopped abroad and asked for your licence would be another matter however…

From 1/1/21 however the French have confirmed that cross-border exchanges of information relating to traffic offences will no longer occur. On the spot penalties can still be issued however (and yes, they do give you a police escort to a cash machine if needed – from personal experience!).

France stands to lose up to €60 million per year in unpaid tickets according to some sources.

Update on pistes for ski touring & access rules for activities on the Courchevel ski area 19 Jan – 03 Jan

From 19 December 2020 until 03 January 2021 the following regulations control the access to the Alpine and Nordic ski areas across the Courchevel ski area.

These new regulations are to allow activities to go ahead during the closure of the ski lifts in a safe Covid secure manner. Personal responsibility, respect for other people and adhering to the safety measures in place is requested and required.

From 09:00 – 16:30 access to the ski area is prohibited except for the following:

  • S3V & Municipal staff
  • Rescue personnel
  • Instructors & Guides in supervision or training (at their own risk)
  • Users of permanent or temporary ski touring routes
  • Users of Nordic tracks
  • Users of groomed footpaths crossing ski slopes
  • Mountain Bikers in designated areas (including Cospilot and Plan Fontaine pistes).
  • Snowmobiles in designated areas (Combe de Praméruel with Courchevel Adventure & Ski Vol).
  • Authorised and licensed competitors, coaches and training personnel on Emile Allais and Loze Stades.

Ski touring is authorised from 09:00 to 1630 on 3 temporary areas which will be groomed and secure for access to all on the Chenus, Biollay and Signal areas. The Millet Ski Touring and PLUM KV slopes are also open to all for ascent only. Everywhere else is prohibited.

Cross-country skiing is authorised on the 52km of marked and maintained tracks from 09:00 to 1630.

There are also 47km of open and maintained footpaths again open from 09:00 to 16:30. Some will have dog-sledding too!

Sledging is authorised from 09:00 to 16:30 on the Courchevel 1850 to Courchevel Village 1550 with return by the free ski bus shuttle service that runs about every 20 minutes.

  • Horse riding is permitted on the Ferme de Pralong route, ZEN Pralong, Cospillot, Sandraz, Plan du Vah and Pralong pistes.
  • A ski joëring slope may also be set up around the Ferme de Pralong, in Courchevel 1850, depending on snow conditions.
  • The ski school kindergartens will be open.

From 16:30 to 09:00 only authorised staff working on the preparation of pistes, beginners and racing areas will be allowed on the ski area.

In addition altitude restaurateurs and their staff operating snowcats and snowmobiles for access will be allowed from 07:00 to 09:00 and 17:00 to 19:00 whose route to/from work is not subject to PIDA (avalanche control work).

Update: Hotel Montana La Tania will open this Winter & more on Alpine Elements Administration

Hotel Montana WILL be opening this Winter and bookings are being taken, starting from around £100 per night for a double room inc breakfast. Looks like flexible booking periods will be allowed as they are no longer tied to weekend flights & transfer packages like Alpine Elements operated.

Alpine Elements called in the Administrators yesterday, they had been leasing the hotel since 2012. They blamed the French Government keeping the ski lifts closed over the holidays for tipping them over the edge.

The property was run/owned by the Eurogroup / Ski France / Madame Vacance setup and founders Richard Green and Roger Borne were involved too. We hear it’s being run by the Borne family this Winter (Roger used to be an airport Rep for Crystal when a certain Tim Wall did the same for Neilson – wonder if he’ll run the bar & restaurant again???).

Alpine Elements were one of the largest independent tour ops in the UK and were started by James Hardiman back in 1997. It’s reported a pre-pack administration is in place with an investor on board and the brand (which includes iGOSKI & Ocean Elements) will be brought back by Hardiman who stated that ABTA & ATOL protection should mean everyone will get their money back.

So maybe not as bad news for La Tania as we first thought when the news broke yesterday but devastating for the 350 employees of Alpine Elements across the Alps and beyond, our thoughts are with them. We’ve got some great memories of end of season Charity Balls, Comedy Nights and staff parties over the years, they will be missed.

The AE package deals to La Tania with flights, transfers and half board accommodation were pretty hard to beat least Winter (although they were a bit Gatwick centric) and with no cheap Crystal packages to La Tania hopefully the smaller independent chalet companies, transfer operators and private apartment rentals will be supported.

The new Hotel Montana website is at:
www.lemontanahotel.com

More La Tania Accommodation: www.latania.co.uk/resort/accomm

La Tania Transfer Companies:
www.latania.co.uk/resort/transfers


Latest Outdoormaster Goggles with easy Magnetic Lens change (and 25% off)

Outdoormaster have a new upgraded Goggle Pro Plus with super high definition, colour optimised, wide angle, anti-fog lenses. But the special part is the easy magnetic lens changing for those sunny mornings and the cloudy late afternoons when flat light descends and a change of lens is required (but 90% of the time you can’t be bothered with the hassle and just put up with poor visibility until you get home).

It really is this fast and simple to swap lenses, no need to even take your gloves off when on the mountain!

The Pro Ski Goggles start at only £35 (even cheaper with the discount code below) and can be customised with up to 30 different lenses…

The goggles come with a protective case, carrying pouch and a one year warranty.
Get 25% off with code LATANIA25

Even the strap has been thought of with an anti-slip coating to grip helmets and a triple layer of micro-fibre foam for comfort and maximising venting to prevent fogging.

As well as the enhanced optics, the lens offers 100% UV400 protection and is made using impact-resistant anti-scratch materials to put up with après ski too! Outdoormaster have 30+ different lenses to offer exceptional clarity in a wide range of different light conditions.

We look forward to trying these in the worst (and best) of weather this Winter! There’s no such thing as bad weather – just inadequate equipment…

The high tech ski gear worth buying ahead of your trip to La Tania

(Image via https://twitter.com/PopSci)

Whether you’re a family looking to have some fun or a young couple desperate for a getaway on the slopes, La Tania is capable of giving you the ski holiday of a lifetime. Like with most of the modern world, though, technology can help make your trip go even better.

Like with many other aspects of life in 2020, technological advancements have made an impact on many outdoor activities, with skiing getting a technological facelift in recent times. It’s no different to advancements made in other areas, where one quick look at the gaming landscape will tell you just how far it has progressed with licensed online mansioncasino.com in the UK adding more and more games, alongside introductions such as augmented reality and virtual reality headsets. Skiing has had a similar makeover, with numerous gadgets proving particularly popular of late.

With more and more skiers investing in new forms of technology, we thought we’d go through some of the best high tech ski gear well worth considering before you venture out to La Tania.

GoPro Hero8 Black
One of the major appeals of going skiing is the ability to capture some amazing pictures and footage when you’re doing it, which is why many skiers like to invest in gadgets ideal for capturing the best snaps like the GoPro Hero8 Black. The device is easy to use, it’s light, and it comes with a much better camera than previous versions. Overall, if you’re looking to capture some memories from your ski trip, then you really can’t go wrong with the GoPro Hero8 Black.

Glade Adapt goggles with photochromic lens
The Glade Adapt goggles with a photochromic lens are the perfect pair of goggles to purchase if you’re wanting to enjoy your skiing to its maximum potential. The photochromic lens allows you to take in all the colours you experience in the best way possible as it changes colours according to the lighting conditions. These type of goggles can be incredibly expensive, but for around £100 at the time of writing, you’d be getting a fantastic product.

Smith 4D MAG Goggles
A pair of goggles that have received rave reviews, the Smith 4D MAG goggles are worth considering. They come with a wider field of view, a 5x antifog inner lens with AirEvac Integration Technology that essentially gets to work on stopping your goggles from fogging up, alongside two levers that easily release the lens. It’s a product that is hard to describe in reality but try it on and give it a go on the slopes and you’ll really see for yourself just how good it is.

Seirus HeatTouch Hellfire
(Image via https://twitter.com/TheGearJunkie)
Skiing is cold, which is why investing in a good pair of gloves with proven heated technology fitted inside is needed. The HeatTouch Hellfire glove comes with a strong battery that can keep them heated for up to 12 hours, allowing you to get some serious time in on the slopes before your hands start to feel the cold.

Smith Level Helmet
A helmet like no other, the Smith Level Helmet is lighter than previous models and offers excellent protection, which is obviously vital when skiing. Equipped with a state of the art MIPS brain-protection system alongside a whole host of other impressive and protective features, this a helmet that also offers a lot of comfort. It’s easily adjustable and you won’t get too hot and sweaty in it thanks to its impressive ventilation either. If you’re after a solid helmet for you or a loved one, then the Level helmet by Smith is a brilliant option.

Pomme de Pin (PdP) becomes Hotel La Pomme – Not another 1850 rip off is it?

Hotel Pomme de Pin was one of the few value for money places in Courchevel 1850 with Pizza from €11, Stella from €5.50 a pint and a great full on buffet meal deal too. Even the Veuve Cliquot Champagne at €50 a bottle (€55 for Rosé) was an unbelievable bargain for an on piste restaurant in Courchevel 1850.

The Aussie owners previously ran the Hotel Courcheneige with similar prices and both became popular with Seasonaires and those in the know.

With the brand new competition Stade and race HQ (helped with €17m of funding from Britain’s richest man, Monaco based, Jim Ratcliffe, CEO of the INEOS Petrochemicals group ) right in front of the terrace it looks like the owners or management have decided to bail out and things are set to change.

Rebranded to Hotel La Pomme with Chef Mathieu Hericotte running the restaurant the hotel announced in September that it is now under the management of Maison Tournier group.

Maison Tournier run the 5 star hotels Saint Roch & Saint Joseph in Courchevel and Saint Amour La Tartanne in Saint Tropez as well as restaurant in Courchevel including the Cap Horn, La Casserole, San Marco, L’Èquipe, La Cantine and L’Aventure – get the picture? Let’s hope for not too many changes…

Courchevel Plans for Outdoor Activities, Ski Area Access & Services during lift closure

La Tania Gondola top station and the new beginners area on the right

Courchevel is making additional plans to welcome visitors until the French government allow ski lifts to re-open. This includes a total of 85 outdoor activities, ski touring arrangements, resort entertainments and a coordination of all the restaurants offering takeaways and click & collect options.

The Tourist Office, Mairee and Activity Providers all coming together and ensuring optimal safety for all as a priority. Resort entertainments are currently being discussed to make sure there can be some events in a Covid secure environment.

The free resort shuttle buses commence on 14 December. See timetables here

Les P’tits Pralins crêche and day care centre in Courchevel 1650 Moriond starts up from 13 December.

The 87 km of footpaths and snowshoes will be groomed and the Nordic ski trails will be maintained and accessible.

Ski Touring on certain routes selected in consultation with S3V will be allowed. This is so their work on maintenance and piste grooming can be carried out safely without endangering skiers. Certain slopes on the ski area, in addition to the Millet /Ski Touring tracks (below), will therefore be authorised while others will remain strictly prohibited.

Ski Touring Track from Le Praz to Col de la Loze is marked as an orange dashed line on the 2021 map

From 23 December, the Millet Ski Touring will have additional opening every day from 10:00 to 15:00 until the opening of the ski lifts.

Animations and activities are being adapted to be Covid secure to include the following:

• Santa Claus appearance on 22 December in La Tania, Le Praz, 1550 & 1650 on 23rd and 1850 on 24th.
• Fireworks display on New Year’s Eve with the theme “Disney Orchestra” from the summit of Plantrey.
• A Treasure Hunt downloadable on your SmartPhone.
• Plus further activities offered on the snow fronts to be confirmed.

The following activities are being discussed and are awaiting authorisation:

• Opening of the Ice Rink.
• 1850 Toboggan run (between Courchevel 1850 and Courchevel Village) accessible with more shuttles.
• Courchevel 1850 and Courchevel Moriond ESF Crêches.
• Guided non-skiing activities such as Snow Shoeing, Cross Country Skiing, Organised Mountain Hikes etc.

Well done to all involved, trying their best to make something of this awful situation.

No December First Tracks on Saulire (yet) – More Snow Pics

Update: Two skiers did make it up today, just in time for Sunset…

UPDATE: Spotted at 16:39 – two skiers made it to the top – tracks below…
UPDATE: First December tracks…
No tracks on Saulire yet following yesterday’s snow – a sign of lockdown being obeyed?
Skiers on 21 November 2020
Turns Earned
La Tania resort at lunchtime today after the 1st December Snow
View from the Bouc Blanc today with the new beginners area
Close up of the new beginners area – the giraffe is back!
Looking up to Col de la Loze and Folyères from La Tania this morning