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The view from............ Val d'Isere and the Espace Killy

 Poster: A snowHead
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Old Fartbag - yea I know Aaron of course - top guy. Those are also some incredible memories too!
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Steve Angus wrote:
Old Fartbag - yea I know Aaron of course - top guy.

Did he tell you that he failed his motorbike test first time round - For going too slowly! Laughing
TBF, it was due to slowing down for a funeral.

...but boy can he ski.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Steve Angus wrote:
just be careful in the Cairn - it gets well skied but can be dangerous especially the traverse in!



Wouldn't dream of doing any real off-piste work without a guide or instruction certainly not at my level. By the way do you do off-piste coaching Steve?
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Russeh wrote:
Steve Angus wrote:
just be careful in the Cairn - it gets well skied but can be dangerous especially the traverse in!



Wouldn't dream of doing any real off-piste work without a guide or instruction certainly not at my level. By the way do you do off-piste coaching Steve?


Most definitely - do lots of it!

Old Fartbag - will have to have a chat with him about that!
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Steve Angus wrote:


Old Fartbag - will have to have a chat with him about that!

It'll keep him wondering where you heard it. IIRC. When he was told that he'd failed for going too slow, he said something like, "I've never been accused of that before - I race down mountains on skis for a living".

i haven't seen him for years, as he stopped working full time, joined Progression Ski and only came out for the holidays, as he spent more time at home helping his Father.
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Hi Steve - Just joined this forum on a recommendation - you have some great updates! We're a family of 4 (kids ages nearly 4 and 6) and are beyond excited to spend the ski season in a French Ski resort. I have been to Val D'Isere about 15 years ago pre kids and loved it. Thinking about making it our home for this coming ski season. We'd planned to home school this year but would love to involve our kids in some sort of part time education system both to get them immersed in French and to allow mom and dad some solo ski time Smile Is there anything like that in Val? What do you do for your kids? Thank you in advance!
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Hi @nicole.bates, how are you getting around the 90 day stay rules?

Have you joined the Val seasonaires FB page? It can be quite useful.
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nicole.bates wrote:
Hi Steve - Just joined this forum on a recommendation - you have some great updates! We're a family of 4 (kids ages nearly 4 and 6) and are beyond excited to spend the ski season in a French Ski resort. I have been to Val D'Isere about 15 years ago pre kids and loved it. Thinking about making it our home for this coming ski season. We'd planned to home school this year but would love to involve our kids in some sort of part time education system both to get them immersed in French and to allow mom and dad some solo ski time Smile Is there anything like that in Val? What do you do for your kids? Thank you in advance!


Thanks - have been updating monthly and daily on this thread for years and years now!!!!

So to answer your questions (please ask away if you have more questions or ask more via a pm to me!):

I / we are a family of 4 too.... mine are 3 (yesterday) and 6. We have / do live here year round - mortgages, taxes and everything in between in this country and have done so for about 16 years or so. Val is a good place to live / spend a ski season! Lots of people have the idea to spend a season here especially in these times. So the idea to home school is cool but some things to consider re part time education system here... for a start the only school here in Val is probably fully 'booked' for the Winter but its also a legal requirement to send kids to school here in France from the age of 3! School here is 4 long days, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday! You could look for a private nanny type set up or speak to the Village des Enfants about booking the kids in for some immersive France - thats a sort of kids club! So my kids are both at school year round and full time here! If anything id look into accommodation issues.... finding something to rent for the Winter of a suitable size that doesn't cost say €50,000 for the Winter will be your main concern... larger places with 2/3 bedrooms are hard to find!

Anyway Im not sure what sort of other questions you might have but feel free to contact me if you have more questions! My kids (well my 6 year old girl) often act as the bi-lingual translators in the class! Haha!

But also as bar shaker says the 90 day stay rules could be a major problem!
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From Summer to deep Winter!

Well firstly apologies for long time since I last posted - I am not sure how the last 6 weeks have flown past!

Back in mid August when I last posted and for 99% of the last month it has been hot and sunny... There has been the continuation of the Summer... as I said last time it was a bumper season with tourism levels through the roof! So there was the usual activities wherever possible with social distancing etc etc etc. Sights such as the fishing competition up on the Ouillette:



...have been the order of the day... however it has not all been plain sailing as they have spent much of the last few weeks doing some MAJOR improvement works on the road and tunnels between here and the dam. In essence the tunnels are the lifeblood to the resort but they are in desperate need of modernising and improving for safety and practical reasons so there have been frequent queues and traffic lights as well as night closures etc... its annoying whenever you want to go anywhere!



The place explosives into the ground to blow up the ground in a controlled manor apparently!!!

Of course the schools all went back at the beginning of September and my little man (who was 3 yesterday) started too. They start school by law in France the calendar year they turn 3. So anyway he is chuffed getting on the school bus with his big sister each day. All seems to be going well so far.


Not my son but one of his classmates on day one going to school!!

Of course lots of the goings on in the resort are up in the air or hidden in general. One day we took a family trip up the mountain for a walk and a picnic and on the way down observed the loaded water barrels being loaded on the Village lift to test the weight capacity and the brakes on the lift etc... its quite cool as when they go around at the top station the plug is pulled and they spend the return journey down again emptying. Other work involves managing pistes etc but also making sure the pisteurs fix avalanche barriers etc etc etc. Sometimes by chopper!!!



So after the kids were back at school and with final completion on the sale and purchase of a new flat for my mum (long story!) I headed back for a period of 'sorting' out... basically everything arrived at the flat and I spent my time moving and unpacking furniture etc and eating home delivery meals for a couple of weeks before heading back to Val... an exhausting and boring couple of weeks I have to say! However the flat is now sorted out - yippee!

Talking of houses we are nearly ready to submit our plans to the town council for consideration here in Val for our home improvement works we are seeking. Has been a long road but the architects have been amazing and it looks like we are now ready to submit... so lets really hope that over the next few months it can jump through all the hurdles and get the OK - we just then need to get the monies in place and find a builder and schedule it in - now that could take a long time - arghhhh!

Talking about Val again and in relation to this Winter - the resort have released their plans for the Winter... in a nutshell nothing on the slopes / as far as skiing is concerned will really change. Enclosed lifts face masks needed, more cleaning will happen and there will be some sort of social distancing in place... outside lights such as chair lifts etc will all be a full capacity! Apres ski will be nothing like it normally is though I doubt!!!!! Group ski lessons will run as normal with everyone wearing facemasks all the time etc. However the practicalities might be slightly more complicated than all this. Of course this is all aside to the issues of quarantine / Brexit / travel insurance / tour operators that have gone bust etc etc etc. To put it mildly this could be a difficult season.... Clare and I are bracing ourselves for some serious hardships ahead - I dont know really what we will do as there might not be any / much teaching work about at all and the problem is that there are not many other jobs around as everything is geared towards the ski industry! I suppose the main saving grace at the moment is that this part of France and certainly up here in the mountains is not affected really by Covid in terms of hardly any cases about at all! I have not heard of a 'local' case since about April time! Long may that continue!

So the weather has certainly changed in the last couple of days - it was about 25C only a week or so ago here in the mountains but yesterday morning we had a big snowstorm that came through and it was -9 here in town... we have had about 5-10cm of English wet snow - much of it has melted away of course and it will not last around here in town but the mountain tops should now keep their snow until the season starts! Talking of the start of the season it does look like Val will be getting a month of World Cup ski races - basically all of December! They are going to create a bubble whereby the athletes utilise the funicular and lap around on the OK Orange piste - there will be a couple of weeks of mens races and then the same for the ladies races.... hmmm thats the vague plan anyway! Im sure I will have more info on all that next month!

And the last thing that has been happening as I said above has been my little boys birthday - can't believe he is 3 now! Lots of celebrations and cake etc as well as the obligatory party yesterday - I'm still recovering! Ha ha!

So I think that is all for now! Ill be back in about a months time for the last non Winter monthly update for this year and then dailies again in November.

TTFN
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@Steve Angus, thanks, as always an interesting update.

Only just turned 3 sounds young to start school, so hope that continues to go well.

At least good to learn hardly any Covid 19 cases recently in Val D’Isere. Fingers crossed for the upcoming ski season, maybe including the Pre Season Bash in December??
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Quote:
Fingers crossed for the upcoming ski season, maybe including the Pre Season Bash in December??
On a practical basis, things need to change radically for UK visitors to get to France for a week or two of skiing.... Confused

At the minute we can't get there via GVA due to the need to quarantine for 14 days in Switzerland (Oo er, we have 3 flights booked to there Shocked )...then there's the need to do the same on returning from France... rolling eyes
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@mountainaddict, GVA is only one of the challenges in the meantime but i thought someone had posted in another thread that transitting through en route to France wouldn't incur the quarantine rule
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toyah807 wrote:
@mountainaddict, GVA is only one of the challenges in the meantime but i thought someone had posted in another thread that transitting through en route to France wouldn't incur the quarantine rule


Correct, but obvs F and CH on the UK naughty list
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You know it makes sense.
PeakyB - thank you.

Yes it is quite amazing - 2 when he started school but he seems to have taken to it well!

Yes everything crossed for this season... to be honest as we are about 99.9% dependent on international tourism then its not looking good to be honest! Some more dependent on international arrivals than others but who knows! Yes I am hoping the PSB bash comes off - that would be a good start to the season all round!

mountainaddict - toyah807 - andy from embsay - yes its looking very bleak indeed! If there was reliable instantious (or nearly instantious) testing available at the airports that would help... heck id pay for someone to have a £50 test if it meant they came - ha ha!

Chin up folks!!!!
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Steve Angus wrote:
If there was reliable instantious (or nearly instantious) testing available at the airports that would help... heck id pay for someone to have a £50 test if it meant they came - ha ha!

Chin up folks!!!!

Be careful what you wish for - that could be a lot of £50s, even if only Snowheads took you up on it!
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Kenzie wrote:
Steve Angus wrote:
If there was reliable instantious (or nearly instantious) testing available at the airports that would help... heck id pay for someone to have a £50 test if it meant they came - ha ha!

Chin up folks!!!!

Be careful what you wish for - that could be a lot of £50s, even if only Snowheads took you up on it!


Trust me anything that gets some bookings coming in is worth the expense!!! Blooming quarantine!!!!
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@Steve Angus, I think the pharmacy in Val d’Isere was charging €40 for an antibody test in the summer with quick results but cant remember if they also did Covid tests. Do you know what the testing situation is in town ?
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muppet wrote:
@Steve Angus, I think the pharmacy in Val d’Isere was charging €40 for an antibody test in the summer with quick results but cant remember if they also did Covid tests. Do you know what the testing situation is in town ?


I dont know exactly what the situation is with tests but think you still need referring from a doctor or just turn up at the drop in centre but down in Bourg... antibody tests are available yes in town!
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Interesting to know if antibody tests are positive but how it helps the ski season i do not know. How long does immunity last and was it the Covid-19 Covid or the common cold. So many caveats on that one.

I have had two positive antibody tests probably due to an infection from Austria beginning March. The immunity may have worn off, if at all, and i still need to to do what everyone else is doing.
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Quote:

Interesting to know if antibody tests are positive but how it helps the ski season i do not know. How long does immunity last and was it the Covid-19 Covid or the common cold. So many caveats on that one.

I have had two positive antibody tests probably due to an infection from Austria beginning March. The immunity may have worn off, if at all, and i still need to to do what everyone else is doing.


All antibodies degrade, but the memory B cells that produce antibodies remain. So the immunity continues whether or not antibodies remain.
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I have got an antibody test with BUPA tomorrow. £65. Results 3-5 working days. This is more for me to judge risk than anything else. But will produce for borders or anyone else to prove I am ok. If I have had it the chance of me having it bad I see as slim.
Never displayed symptoms but one or two friends have had it. One uncle lost to it
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We have positive antibody results but they don't currently mean we can avoid quarantine.
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@Mark1863, what was your result?
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Negative. So have never had it. Not the result I was after!!! Got the results the morning after my test. So a good service. BUPA, Solihull.
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@Mark1863, Dont be so sure.

I have access to tests as I wish (antibody). At the end of March I had a very strong positive result, during May it was still positive but weaker, and at the weekend had another and it was negative. The antibodies are all gone!
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Well what a lot has happened in the last month eh!!!!

PeakyB - thank and yes i know 3 is young to start school thats for sure! He is loving it though! There werent and still arent too many cases in Val BUT the Savoie is one of the worst affected areas now in France unfortunately! PSB - well a month ago that was a slim possibility now its not really considered anything other than a million to one long shot (certainly in these parts!!!!)

mountainaddict - quite and now the UK is locked down too............ but at least Switzerland is allowing Brits back in again with the quarantine etc!

toyah807 - quite... but the naughty list as andy from embsay says is still there.

Kenzie - trust me ill take the hit!!!! Desperate times in these parts!

muppet - still not looked into the testing situation in town actually! Sorry

Interesting chat there re antibodies and I think (as demonstrated by Philip1972) that it won't make much difference in the long run if they disappear - bug!

Pretty depressing

Well folks I am writing this just after Boris has delivered the UK the (bad (or good as some people will see it)) news. That of course comes after what Macron said the other day re France.

So here we are once again in lockdown.... to be honest not much difference is happening in inter-season here in town but its looking at the horizon that the real worry comes... but more on "the future' in a moment.

What has happened in the last month then....

Well firstly pretty much straight after posting I picked up some labouring work on a job in town and have done about 3 weeks on that site which was welcome work... a very nice flat in the centre of town. That kept me out of trouble for a few weeks! Ha ha

Then about 2 weeks ago now we headed off to Annecy for a break. Clares uncle and wife own a house (holiday home) just outside Annecy and as part of the grounds there is a little outbuilding / cottage that they rent out. At this time of the year they dont get any takers so they allowed us to have it for a snip which was very kind of them! So we had 10 amazing days 'away from it all' in the cottage. The owners arrived for a few days at the end too so it was nice to see them too... Olivia was able to impress with her French too.

So we had bicycle rides, picnics, time in the park, went to an amazing swimming pool, some takeaways, went shopping and all sorts. I wouldnt say we spoiled ourselves but balanced up a nice time with conserving money. Last weekend (when the others were there too) we also celebrated my birthday too. Luckily having an amazing bakery around the corner meant we could treat ourselves! Yummy!

Looking back on last Tuesday (was it really only that recent!!!!) it was really sad to leave and come home. The weather had turned pretty bad and we needed to get back and get on top of a few things anyway! But it seems a very distant memory thats for sure. Dare I say its not nice to be back to reality of what confronts us!!!

So that is the last month or so for you all!

Attention now turns to the future. Well obviously it is an understatement to say that things are looking grave, very grave, indeed but they are. Everyone is basically trying to work out how we are going to survive the next few months. As I said last month we are SO dependent on inter-national tourism here. In some respects the lockdown we have entered into once again is actually a blessing in disguise as it will mean a little financial help from the government. If we didnt have that then we would get €0. However having said that the ski industry is so skewed towards a few months of the year but the French equivalent of the Furlough scheme doesn't take that into account so the amount is very modest. However its certainly better than nothing that is for sure!

Some tour ops are not recruiting at all and going into hibernation (dont even mention the Brexit word as THAT is another MASSIVE MASSIVE bomb affecting things!) - some are renting their chalets out (the season renting market is non existent too so we are staring down the barrel of having to pay the mortgage on our renting little place that we can't rent out too, as well as taking the financial hit this season!!!) rather than rent them weekly, others not taking on staff at all (so any work that might come in might be handled by existing locals such as myself!). But even the French are not committing and restaurants and hotels not taking on staff. Even before the announcement the other day by Macron many places had decided not to open before Xmas. There is a LOT of holding off and waiting and seeing across the board before making a commitment in any direction... it really IS a case of trying to go into a mega hibernation for the next few weeks and months!!! Time will tell!

The skiing World Cup races ARE still scheduled to happen in December but we are waiting to hear from the powers that be if that is indeed the case or not. We should know in the next week or so! However the local levels of infection are not looking good for it. In fact face coverings are now mandatory across the region everywhere all the time unless at home!

So what are we going to do... well assuming there is no ski teaching work which is a possibility - as it is there is basically nothing in the diary until February half term... even so bookings are only speculative for now so dont really count there is nothing until March in the diary!!!!!! Clare is similar. I think Clare is looking at trying to get some massage and therapy work here and there as she is qualified in that sort of thing. I might be trying to get some academic teaching work at the ski academy over in Tignes, Apex2100 but an interview for them MIGHT be coming next week but that is NOT a gimme in ANY shape, size or form yet. I will also try and perhaps get some Geogprahy (as I have a PGCE in it) tutoring work on line too I think! Apart from that - still trying to work out our next moves.

Sorry to be all doom and gloom on this all but the 'hardships' haven't even started for the industry and us over here thats for sure!!! So much for coming out of the doom and gloom over the Summer!!!

On the positive side my mum in the care home seems to be OK which is good news thankfully! Our plans have now been submitted to the marie here and we are awaiting their response - whether it will be a yes, no or maybe. Time will tell!

So in terms of these updates. I shall probably give a further update in a few weeks time and then shall see whether daily updates are worth doing - if there is no skiing then it would be hard trying to 'make' a daily update work. So watch this space folks.

In local news in photos to finish:


The storms earlier in October meant the Col closed much earlier than normal - in fact (Despite the last couple of days!) the early snow is looking very good so far!

This place is pretty in the Autumn... well actually year round really!!!

There was a big fire (no injuries but just lots of damage!) at a building site up near the top of town the other evening too!

TTFN
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Steve Angus, it’s good to hear from you. Pleased that you and Clare and the kids are all healthy but can only imagine how this situation is impacting your lives. Just a quick hello to say we’re thinking about you and the family and look forward to when this situation eases and we can all ski again. For now, we send out best.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
lynnecha wrote:
@Steve Angus, it’s good to hear from you. Pleased that you and Clare and the kids are all healthy but can only imagine how this situation is impacting your lives. Just a quick hello to say we’re thinking about you and the family and look forward to when this situation eases and we can all ski again. For now, we send out best.


Ditto.

I follow your blog and am always pleased to see an update from you. These are truly worrying times but deep breaths, hold your lovely family close and remember that this too will pass. I think we all need to enjoy the moment and not worry to much about what’s coming.

Looking forward to booking my first ski lessons with you when this is all over.

Sharon
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You know it makes sense.
Steve a post that puts a lot of things in perspective. Most if us on Snowheads are worrying about whether we will get a ski in this season and if so whether it will be a good ski, there are lots of people worrying about things a lot more important. Echoing Sharon's comments above, and hope to book some lessons with you when the next opportunity arises.
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@Steve Angus, thanks for update and good luck, skiing is such a short season its hard to comprehend the consequences of a dead or awful season.
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@Steve Angus, Thanks for posting a 'From the coalface' update - it rings true to what I'm hearing from mates in Tignes. It's starting to look like a season that will kill off a lot of businesses & people's dreams of a life in the Alps. Please keep up a regular post (weekly?) to keep us up to date with what is happening 'Over there'. Best wishes & good luck!
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Ski VIP who run quite a few chalets in Val have gone belly up. Decent company. Shame. There will be more
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I hear there was a meeting in town today with the possibility the resort may not open this season Sad hoping that isn't true
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harvsurrey wrote:
I hear there was a meeting in town today with the possibility the resort may not open this season Sad hoping that isn't true


A videoconference meeting was held yesterday morning between mountain stakeholders and several members of the government, including the Prime Minister. No major announcement has been made, by this means that the opening date of the station is still not known. In the introduction, Jean Castex said he understood the economic challenges of winter sports resorts, but believes that this sector of activity also represents strong potential circulation on the spread of the virus. Two opposing scenarios were still under consideration yesterday. Either the stations will remain closed for the winter, in which case economic compensation for the players is being debated, or the stations could open for the holidays. In this second case, the question is whether restaurants and bars could reopen as well. Professionals and Prime Minister agree that the decision must be taken within 10 days if the health situation improves. The President of the Republic is due to speak at 8 p.m. this evening.
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Not looking great Sad
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.... I will be back to doing my 'dailies' (or something similar!?!?!) soon but all I can say is that the chance of the resort not opening at all this season is virtually zero. I think the meaning of the wording floating around taken from the meeting that took place yesterday is that nothing may open BECAUSE bars and restaurants have to stay closed! But that means that closure until mid January when the effects in terms of national numbers / deaths etc is known over the festive period... so by end of January opening may well be allowed - probably in a limited way but we shall see. I think by the time we get towards February and unless numbers are off the scale the pressures on the government to allow the resorts to open will be off the scale and opening will be allowed and into the Easter. So I think non opening is likely to only be temporary. The actual decision about the way forward for ski resorts in particular will be taken at the end of next week which allows another 10 days for numbers to come down and more data to be drawn out... the alpine regions in France are amongst the most affected regions still so if numbers do drop there could be limited opening over the festive period BUT it will mainly be people staying in apartments and coming back to apartments for lunch etc and staying in in the evenings!!!! Anyway folks standby as ill summon up the mental effort to get going on the updates very soon... I was mainly waiting until this evening to hear what Macron said!
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Thanks Steve , good to know you are still doing ( reasonably ) ok

Best wishes to all the family.
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Thanks @Steve Angus, do keep us here updated. It is sometimes difficult to understand the feeling on the ground from news reports.
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best wishes Steve, everything crossed that we get to come over and ski with you in March.
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It's looking like I should cancel my 2 weeks in Bourg from 23 Jan, I'm thinking of instead booking a week in Tignes from the 6th March instead as the accommodation I booked is still refundable though I do feel bad for the owner. What do others think, is it worth holding on a bit longer or just getting a booking in now for March? I understand that it's impossible to predict but it seems like this would be a safer option to actually getting a trip in this year, January seems too optimistic right now.

@Steve Angus, you say a further decision will be made in 10 days, is it worth holding on to what I have till then do you think? Really hoping things get better in the region for you and all the locals who rely on the season for their living.
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