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Why is skiing in France so expensive ?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I spend around 3 to 4 months each year in ski resorts around Europe (mainly Italy but in other countries as well) so I know what the "normal" cost for items are in ski areas. I spent a week in Val Thorens, France on a ski holiday last week.

The last week I went to France for a pure holiday, ie. non-instructor training, assessment, re-assessment, etc, was years ago in the 90’s, I remember that it was quite expensive back then, but it seems to have move into a different mind-set now – ie, don’t worry about providing a decent service and charge an amount for the goods/service that will give a reasonable return on investment, effort, costs, etc. but simply charge as much as you can. I’m not going to use the phrase rip-off but.....

The non tourist based companies (supermarkets/ council swimming baths – sports centre/ etc) seemed to be charging about the same as the others do, in the more civilised parts of Europe, but companies that are almost solely based on the ski/ tourist sector (boot-ski shops/ bars/ restaurants / etc) seemed to be charging about (average) 15 to 20% more than other areas of Europe for corresponding goods/ services. The mountain cafes/ restaurants were charging almost double what you’d pay for the same stuff in Italy.

I understand that France has a minimum wages so their staffing costs may be slightly higher but other items such as petrol, local taxes (I asked at the tourist info about this), etc, are around the same as countries – in fact the company taxes are much less than you’d pay in Italy.

The skiing in France is no better or worse than most other parts of Europe and the shops, restaurants, cafes, etc are also about the same, so why:
A] do they get away with it?
B] do tourist put up with it?
C] do so many British people not mind being (obviously) fleeced?

Outside of the ski resorts, for example at the motorway service, town shops, etc everything seems to cost around the same as other parts of Europe, give or take, but as soon as you get to a ski resort you seem to be regarded as some form of cash-cow.

Am I missing something here Puzzled
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Wayne, you run a business, surely you can come up with some ideas? Have you thought of asking about the relative costs of (for example) rent or staff overheads?
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I dont think flights/transfers/accomadation is expensive. The thing that annoys me is the cost of a ski pass/ hire and food/drink in resort is a disgrace. How someone can justify charging 6 euros (and the rest in some resorts) for a pint of beer is beyond me.
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Ricklovesthepowder,
Exactly. It just seems to be a mindset amongst the tourist orientated business owners.
Flights/ Transfers/ Accommodation/ etc, tend to be booked by TO's (mainly - for the UK market anyway) so they are not as susceptible to the foibles of the unscrupulous business owners

Lizzard,
I understand it from the business’s point of view. What I can’t understand is why people keep going back year after year when they know they are going to be viewed with so much contempt.

Eg. I looked at replacing my ABS with one of the new type (the type that comes up around the neck) but the shop in VT that was showing a big sign in the window offering a 30% end of season sale price, was actually charging the same as you’d pay anyway in the UK, Italy, Austria, etc.
So (being polite here) if (?) they really were offering a 30% discount, which brought the cost down to the normal cost anyway, why would anyone have even thought of buying an ABS from them at their “normal” price.
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5 Euros for a coffee on the slopes in Val Thorens recently - rip-off, and it was luke-warm!
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France will only change if people vote with their feet. Absolutely ski season in France tends to take advantage, I guess cos they can. Personally I find Italy and Austria better overal value.
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I agree totaly with Lizzard,, the cost of lift pass and food is expensive. Accommodation (self catering), is much cheaper than going via a TO is you go DIY! We love Italy for the prices, Austria for the Nightlife and France for the convenience! The problem is they seem to be able to command a premium for their product, where the Italians seem not to! A question to ask is why do the Italians feel unable to charge that premium? Is it the local market?
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From a personal point of view, I am lucky if I get to ski 2 weeks a year. So the 1st thing I look for when I am booking is "snowsure" which tends to mean going high. After that it is size of ski area including easy access from the accomm to the slopes and then costs. France tends to tick more of these boxes than other countries/areas.
Was in Val T last year and La Plagne this year. Yes it is expensive but we always go self catering and then take quite a lot of food with us (if it is light). We economise on the eating out to support the overall cost of the holiday. I would NEVER buy any equipment in a French ski resort as they just seem to think of a number and double it.
I would love to venture into Italy and Austria (Italy is a serious contender for 2012) but the comfort zone of the places I know in France is difficult to break.
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I went on the Birthday Bash this year to Arabba and apart from one more or less snowless trip to Passo Tonale a good few years ago it was my first proper skiing trip to Italy. And you know what I am well and truly converted, it's not just because it is cheaper (and it most definitely is) it is the service that you are provided with. Lunchtime is spent in a lovely Refugio where you actually get served, compare this to the French Massifs, queue up for a jar of microwaved spag bol in a cafeteria.

Whats more I actually think that the pistes are better maintained and the scenery in this part of the Dolomites is absolutely gob-smacking, so why would I go back to France. Simple answer is I will not, I for one will vote with my feet and the Sella Ronda is up there as destination number one for me, there is so much of it. What's more the people I speak to are all saying the same thing, I think France could see a sharp decline in British visitors if they do not change their mind-set and fast.
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Wayne,
Big place France and the prices vary hugely within it. It is a few years since I have skied Italy but I have skied a lot in Switzerland and Austria. The prices in the French mega resorts are undoubtedly high (though many snowHeads have attested to the fact that you can do them on the cheap with a bit of ingenuity) Off the megatour operator trails you can find real value. Two years ago we rented an attractive self catering chalet for € 600 for eight of us for nine nights in the Maurienne valley add in a lift pass for the valley of €82 for five days and supplements for subsequent 3 days bringing it ot approx €130 and most prices on the ground quite reasonable and you have a pretty good value skiing holiday.
Book into the courchneige at New Year and you will pay a little more.

France can be expensive and poor value but it certainly is not necessarily.
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I can't imagine anyone would dream of buying equipment in a French resort - even most of the French seem to get their stuff from Vieux Campeur or Decathlon. On hill food in VT seemed ridiculously pricey compared even to other French places & even Swiss. I note that it wasn't just the Brits. The French, Germans and Dutch were also there in abundance.
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Kel, See you there again next year Smile

It's a fair point Wayne makes. There are bits of France ( like La Grave) which I will go back to, but it's mainly Switzerland, Italy and the US I go to now. If I'm going to pay that money I want something different from what France has shown me in the past.
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Val Thorens was one of the only resorts in France open last week, and one of the only resorts in Europe that will be open next week. When you have a captive audience, you set the price and people pay it.

It's fairly simple economics - you set the price, and people either pay it or they don't. Personally, I pay it, because the cheap upfront cost of the holiday to France for the ski area etc I get in 3V or Espace Killy in return makes it worth it - and the prices aren't that ridiculous, I spent a week feeling like I had just bent over in Davos and they were forcibly extracting money from my backside. It's not just the French doing it - ski resorts in general are like that.

Also, on the other side of the coin, I'd rather spend another 3 or 4 euros a day on lunch than have the entire 3V filled with the same customers that Andorra seems to have based on its very cheap all inclusive packages and cheap lunches. You can have cheap, but there's often a downside to that.
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I stopped skiing in France a few years ago, the prices are astronomical, much prefer Austria although I do agree with T Bar, if you are in the know there are some decent places about, but I don´t want to spend my entire holiday sniffing them out. One of the best ski holidays I had was in Rikky CZE, unbelievable value, not a huge place but enough to keep the missus happy, and the people there were the friendliest I have ever met, couldn´t understand a word but after a few Czech honey liqueuers it was ok!
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I believe at least in part that the reason so many go to France for their ski holidays in Europe is that the French tend to publicise their resorts far more, especially in comparison to say the Swiss or Austrians, up until recently (and the horrible exchange rate of the pound to Swiss Franc) I have amazed people with the prices of skiing in Switzerland compared to what they have been paying in France, traditionally it has always been thought that the Swiss were just after your money but in reality the prices of most things (such as food, ski pass, ski hire) have barely increased in Switzerland year on year, I'd guess that in 30 years prices in the shops and restaurants (in Swiss Francs) have gone up by between 50 and 100% which works out to an average increase of somewhat less than 2.5% per year, what has changed is the exchange rate, I can remember back to the early 70's when and exchange rate of better than 7Chf to the pound was available, sadly these days it's little better than £1 to 1.4Chf which in real terms to Brits means prices have gone up 10 fold since then Sad I have no idea how this compares with France perhaps someone who has been going there for the same amount of time could give us an idea
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Monium,
Quote:

I spent a week feeling like I had just bent over in Davos and they were forcibly extracting money from my backside. It's not just the French doing it - ski resorts in general are like that.

The strength of the Swiss Franc has distorted things recently, Davos is a pricey resort by Swiss standards but when I last went about three years ago it wsa better value then the French mega resorts. This year the Swiss franc has made things crazy.
Quote:

Also, on the other side of the coin, I'd rather spend another 3 or 4 euros a day on lunch than have the entire 3V filled with the same customers that Andorra seems to have based on its very cheap all inclusive packages and cheap lunches.

Plenty of places in France offer good value and a family feel with excellent skiing without paying sillly prices. The sight of ostentatious spending is not always appealing either.
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I haven't been skiing in France for 12 years. Not necessarily due to cost, more due to lack of appropriate accommodation. However, my group of ski buddies are keen on Serre Chevalier next season and the cost of the holiday itself seems very comparable to recent holidays in Italy and Austria. However, I'm expecting food and drink on the mountain to cost a bit more (luckily I don't eat and drink much).

My last two holidays to France were a long time ago and rather disappointing. However, Serre Chevalier seems to tick the boxes for me, so I'm happy to give it a whirl.
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I would agree that lift passes in France are very high. This is one of the reasons we have not been to the large resorts such as Les Arcs since having children and having to pay for four passes. We have looked carefully for french resorts with cheaper lift passes or free passes for children up to 6 etc.

However for our family of four self catering in France has many advantages:
The top of the range CGH appartments have better facilities and more space than hotels/chalets, and you can choose to try out different restaurants each day. I have not yet found equivalent self catering accommodation in other countries.

French resorts are easier to get to by rail/road and we tend to enjoy going by train.

I speak french and enjoy being able to speak the language of the country I am going to.

France is still cheaper than Switzerland.

On the whole I would be more confident of putting my children in ski school in France rather than Italy as more chance of the ski instructors speaking some english. I have read that Austrian resorts offer all day ski school and we prefer morning only ski school for our children.

I do enjoy skiing in other countries but you can do this being based in france (eg. la rosiere/la thuile, montgenevre/claviere, portes du soleil).

If you are single or a couple it may well be cheaper to get a package to Italy or Austria. However if you are a family of four travelling by rail or self drive I think it would still be cheapest to go to france if you look at the total holiday cost, not just the lift pass.
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Market leader with a strong brand = higher pricing.


I love skiing in Italy, (and Spain) but I also know a few people for whom skiing outside Val D. or the 3 valleys is almost inconceivable.
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You can find French resorts that have comparable prices to Italy or Austria, but then they tend to offer comparable skiing. I've returned to the 3 Valley this year after a few years in Austria (Serfaus, Flachau (ski amade), Ischgl, Zillertal) and Italy (Cannazei). I've been to St Anton in the past. The skiing in the 3 Valleys was simply much better. Longer slopes, more challenging slopes (let's face it, most of the Dolomites are quite flat). If I could afford it, we'd return there (I'd buy an apartment at Les Arcs, I really like that resort). As it is, next year we'll probably head over to Austria, because of the prices.
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Val Thorens is together with Val d isere and 3 valley the most expensive resorts in france, Its also the resort where most British and Scandinavian skier travel to in france, (also Chamonix) If you compare with typical french resort like Les Sybelles, the price is like in most italian resorts, Most skier sking one week every season, and dont take alot care about costs, but for us that make alot more skiing, we had to look for more cheaper resorts, and not eat in resturants every evening,, France have alot of station with very good skiing that near all tourists are french and cheap ,, France is alot more than Val thorens , 3 Valley and the other expensive resorts,,
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This season I spent a week in Chamonix en route to Switzerland (Davos) and a week again in Chamonix on my return. I was made very aware of the fact that I had been paying the same numbers in each resort ie. Chf 5/6 for a large beer and €5/6, even despite the rise in the value of the Swiss franc it was better value. Food on the mountain was in the same ratios.
The major difference is, that in Switzerland they provide a service and invite you to ski on their mountains, where as the French just want to get hold of your money and resent you skiing on their French mountains.

Monium, Not sure where you have been to in Andorra, but I spent seven weeks there this season and found the snow better and no Hooray Henry's. People go to Andorra to enjoy themselves not for the street cred when they get home. Please ask yourself why BASI and CSIA run so many of their courses there.
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Chamonix Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass - includes Courmayeur, etc 6 days - €250

Champoluc - significantly less skiing, IMO not as good skiing, 6 days - €192

Why is Italy so expensive?
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first week in april I pay for 6days Skipass Les sybelles, 77 lifts 300km slopes, and skiing for all level, 128euro, thats the deal you can have if you make your own booking, and we pay 5euro for 2 beer on the main street pub Very Happy is that expensive?
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the costs of running a business are the reason, feck knows why we bother. 70/75% to the state, boom!!!!
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SMALLZOOKEEPER, U have complete wrong,, you pay the same if you have the business in Chamonix or in Les Sybelles, Its whats tourists want to pay, thats the reason,,
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Quote:

I agree totaly with Lizzard,, the cost of lift pass and food is expensive.

Where did I say that? I suggested to Wayne that if he really wanted to know why businesses in French resorts charge more than those in Italy or Austria he should start by comparing the overheads.

Some six-day pass prices:
St Anton - 212€
Hintertux - 205€
2Alpes - 195€

Pass prices in Itlay are generally cheaper, but the ski areas are correspondingly smaller (and yes I know you can ski 400km of Via Lattea for 180€ but you'll spend a lot of time on lifts in order to do it). As freeheelskier, points out there are numerous smaller resorts in France where you'll find prices much more in line with those elsewhere. If you want high snowsure resorts with lots of infrastructure and Sunday supplement lifestyle points when you get home you're going to pay for it.

Not that 2Alpes offers much in the way of oneupmanship points, but maybe that's why we're cheaper than Courchevel, innit? Laughing
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freeheelskier, I refer the RtHon Gentleman to the thread title. I for one, if social costs were cut could drop my prices accordingly, I wouldn't though cos i'm a greedy b'stard. Toofy Grin
Do you own a French business?
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Lizzard, Cervina skipass 6days 192 euro,, a little less than LDA,,
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Lizzard, Because you are right the relative costs are a contributing factor that makes up the price!!
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SMALLZOOKEEPER, Yes a do Very Happy
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freeheelskier, Crying or Very sad
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freeheelskier, that's a Cervinia only pass which gives access to 150km of piste, a smaller area than 2Alpes or any of the other high profile French resorts. Access to Zermatt is 30€ a day on top of that, according to the resort's website.
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SMALLZOOKEEPER, I have my business, its hard I restore bathroom, I have my own now for a little more than 1 year, there is alot to pay, I know, there is also alot of time to take care about all paper, french and paper,, thats someting with sex to do Toofy Grin ,, but I earn my money to, and have a good life here,, Very Happy
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Lizzard, U not understod what I mean, It whas to say that LDA is not expensive for what you pay for Very Happy
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You need to be pretty careful comparing lift pass prices when actually budgeting, a lot of places offer family passes at a considerable discount to the main pricce and the ages that children are counted upt ovaries a lot. France usually does poorly when looking at family rates.
I had been planning on going to Chamonix this April but went to 4 valleys instead. A seven day lift pass for a family of four was a few hundred pounds cheaper in Switzerland. Accommodation was better value too, prices on the ground were pretty hefty though.
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T Bar, Yes,,, take all the time care for that,,
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Quote:

I have my business, its hard I restore bathroom,



Quote:

take care about all paper, french and paper,, thats someting with sex to do


I'm putting this together and I think I understand that you clean up after French W@nkers? Laughing
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SMALLZOOKEEPER, Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing
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SMALLZOOKEEPER,
Laughing Laughing Laughing
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