by adminrif on 18-02-2019 in Articles1

The ski season is not over yet! 

With many resorts open well into April (and some into May) and operators cutting prices on last-minute bookings it looks set to be a triumphant end to the season. If you’re tempted to make the most of it, here’s everything you need to know. 

Will there be enough snow?

It was a snowy weekend in the French Alps with the snow starting to fall on Friday for many areas in the Northern Alps and reaching maximum intensity by Sunday.

In the past week forecasts have revealed that in addition to more snow to come in the Alps and North America, temperatures will remain below freezing, even at low elevations. Some resorts are expecting up to half a metre more before the mercury eventually starts to rise and spring arrives in the mountains.

That said, the weather in the mountains can change quickly and it’s uncertain how long these wintery conditions will last, so get cracking!

Is it still safe to head off piste?

Spring is traditionally when the off-piste snowpack is at its most stable, after a long season of snow falling, and, as the weather gets warmer, melting then freezing overnight to create a good, solid base that's less likely to avalanche.

This combined with the longer, sunny days and spring conditions as snow softens during the day mean late-season is popular with ski tourers, who head away from the lifts with the help of climbing skins on skis in search of perfectly preserved powder, whether it's for day tours from ski resorts or on longer hut-to-hut trips. Snowfall has been unusual in the Alps over the last few seasons however, creating a higher than usual risk of weak layers in the snow. 

As with any other time in the season it’s always advisable to venture off piste with a local mountain guide, who will know the best spots of hidden powder (of which there are still many) and know where it is safer and where is more risky.

Before heading out into unpatrolled terrain it’s always best to scrub up on the top tips on how to avoid avalanches, what to do if you get caught in one and the essential kit to take when heading off piste.

If heading to any of the popular French resorts, including Courchevel, Méribel, Val Thorens, Val d'Isère and La Plagne, in the Savoie region, be sure to check out our extensive property directory to find the perfect holiday home for you. 

Is it a good time of year for families and beginners to go skiing too?

The Easter break is often a much more appealing option for families as opposed to the Half-Term break because the warmer weather means there’s less chance parents will have to battle through freezing conditions with their little ones. 

Beginners can also benefit from heading to the slopes for the first time at the end of the season, as there is less risk of being put off by whiteout conditions or getting caught off guard on a particularly chilly chair lift. The spring sunshine can make the whole skiing or snowboarding experience much more enjoyable and clear skies really do showcase the mountains in the best possible way.

Which resorts are best at this time of year?

France has some of the most reliable late season skiing in the Alps. Here are three of the best ski resorts to visit in spring:

1. Val d’Isère/Tignes

Open until May 1st, 2019

Nowhere in the Alps has quite the extent and variety of high altitude skiing as Val d’Isère and Tignes (L’Espace Killy). The home runs can get tricky with the approach of spring, but most of your time will be spent above the mid-stations, where the quality of snow is often good.

Add to that two excellent glaciers, and it’s clear to see why L’Espace Killy is often considered as the top choice for a late season ski holiday.

2. Val Thorens

Open until May 5th, 2019

Val Thorens may not offer quite the same extent of high altitude skiing as Val d’Isère and Tignes, but it is the highest ski resort in the Alps, and does offer very reliable late season snow conditions.
3. Les Arcs 1950/2000
Open until April 27th 2019
At Les Arcs 1950/2000, most of the skiing slopes face North, resulting in a very reliable quality and quantity of snow well into Spring. Many resorts host special events and festivals at the end of the season, as the days are longer and the warmer conditions make outdoor après more appealing.
The late-season sunshine is a popular backdrop for some of the best ski and snowboard festivals, which offer the chance to experience everything from world-famous music acts and comedy to pond skimming competitions and igloo parties.