It was the last major alpine nation to hold out and insist its ski areas would keep running until the end of the season, despite the worsening coronavirus crisis.

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Few, except maybe the resorts themselves, believed that position was tenable.

And so it proved.

On Saturday night, one by one, they were confirming it’s all over.

Some made the announcement swiftly on social media posts.

Others went into meetings to discuss the implications of the French government’s latest pronouncement.

Mostly, it was announced on PlanetSKI in our rolling blog on Facebook.

In reality, the order for all non-essential businesses to close from midnight left them no choice.

But perhaps they should have seen it coming – everyone else in the European snowsports world did.

There’s been a furious reaction from many of our readers.

While some argue the closures are an overreaction, most are angry at the timing – at the weekend, just as thousands of holidaymakers arrived in France.

Social media reaction

Donna Harding: “We arrived 8 hrs ago after 15 hours driving from home to resort.

“We’re in the apartment and bought our ski passes through the apartment manager. If we’d known yesterday we would have stayed at home. Gutted that we now have to go through insurance claims and try to get some of this £££‘s back. They should not have left it so late.”

Lorna Hunt: “That’s a really, really poor show by the French to leave this decision until everyone has travelled on a Saturday. Not that we are booking anything for next season yet but will definitely reconsider our usual Jan trip by Eurostar now.”

Sylwia Lugin: “Thanks to France for being so slow and pretending that everything is ok for so long! Pity, you didn’t make this decision yesterday when I still could get my SNB trip money back”

Alex Sparasci: “We flew out to Flaine today. We felt like we couldn’t afford to lose so much money by not coming. I’m so frustrated that this decision couldn’t have been made before changeover day. Now we have to see how Crystal get us home.”

And this is exactly the nightmare scenario the UK ski tour operators feared – getting their customers to resort for their holiday, only to have to make arrangements just hours later to bring them home again.

Here is what one has told PlanetSKI tonight:

“The timing of their announcement could not have been worse.

“24-hours earlier we could have stopped people travelling.

“24-hours later, at least they would have had a day skiing.

“We are now having to bring people home at vast expense”

Those with Sunday transfer days have at least been spared that.

Now it should be pointed out that it was the Central Government that shut all non essential businesses  and the decision wasn’t made around the timings of the ski industry.

The resorts are simply complying with the edict of the French government, and that is what they will argue.

However, this was so obviously coming and the resorts quite simply should have anticipated it.

The PlanetSKI editor, James Cove, has his own observations.

“The actions of the French resorts and the controlling authorities are perhaps in stark contrast to how the other nations have met this series of unprecedented and unfolding events,” he said.

“They have been fairly appalling in their disregard for the skiers and snowboarders themselves, and the UK tour operators that work extremely hard to bring them business.

“Granted these are government decisions rather than resort decisions and the resorts will no doubt say they were simply following government advice.

“However they could have taken their own action.

“All the other alpine nations closed yesterday or announced closures earlier, ahead of the busy weekend and transfer day and it was done in a more orderly and controlled manner.

“Austria, Norway, Switzerland and others did so in a reasonably well-organised way.

“It was as sure as night follows day that this would happen and the resorts would close.

“This episode will probably remain in people’s memories and it will be interesting to see if it is reflected in future bookings.”

We posed the question in an article earlier on Saturday:

Skiing continues in France, but for how long?

Some people are even going as far as saying the French action contributed to the potential spread of the coronavirus.

It has resulted in huge movements of people when everything should have be done to stop people travelling.

Inghams Ski put out this statement tonight:

“This evening, the French authorities have confirmed they will be closing all the ski lifts for the rest of the season, effective 15 March, despite assurances from the ski resorts themselves they would stay open.

“If you are due to travel to France tomorrow, please do not go to the airport.

“If you are currently in one of these resorts, your local rep will be in touch with further updates.

“If you are due to travel there this winter we will contact you in the coming days.”

The ski season on 2019/20 is over.

Everywhere, even in France.

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