It is March and wouldn’t you know it, things are heating up in France! Yes, the protests have been launched against the new retirement age limits, but actually in this case I’m referring to the weather.
Boring, i know. But actually, if there is one thing that has hit the French this past month after the winter school holidays, it is the impact of global warming. This has been one of the driest and warmest winters in France since 1956.
Now Paris has been just as grey as ever, but in the Alps where we went skiing, it was so warm we could exchange our scarves and bonnets for a good dose of sun-screen.
To explain here is a picture of the ski slopes at 2200m altitude around the Grand Massif in the Alps:
As you can see, there isn’t much snow cover, and the sides of mountain are bare. Such is the impact of the lack of snow, the rate of accidents skyrocketed as snow crews tried desperately to generate enough fake snow to cover the rocks.
Now, it is always relatively warm in the Alps. (Yes, I speak as a Canadian.) It is usually a balmy 0°C (32°F) in the Alps, and with bright sunshine above the clouds, it usually feels even warmer than that.
As as example, my Canadian-issued ski pants are padded for at least -20°C (4°F), while my French ski pants have little zip-opening slots so that the pants can let air circulate and you don’t get too hot.
Now, I’m a terrible skier since I only go for my little Frenchies, but I can tell you that pant air ventilation is not really something you need if you are skiing in Quebec. Anyway, this year in France, it was so warm you could practically ski without a jacket.
Study after study shows that the Alps are losing their snow due to global warming. Winter skiing is a big part tourist industry in France and more than that, it is part of the culture.
Townships and schools all across France organize “colonies des vacances” and “classes blanches” where children as young as 6 are sent off for a week in winter to learn to ski. (Get them while they’re young!) Larger offices across the country offer discounted ski séjours to their employees, and skiing becomes “the thing to do” in winter.
So, it is quite scary to think of the Alps melting in 1-2 generations and the impact of that on everyone. Are today’s kids going to be able to watch their grandkids learn to ski? Are we all going to have to take up hiking as a national sport instead? As diffident a skier as I am, I’m not quite ready to pick up some hiking boots!
In other news:
- A high school teacher was shockingly stabbed in her classroom 2 weeks ago by her 16-year-old student, in the small town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz (South-west France). Rather than a government funeral, her spouse and family decided to honor her love for dance with this movingly beautiful tribute. The song is Je Ne Repartirai Pas (“I will not leave again”) by Nat King Cole.
And new in the blog:
Fleur de lis: Meaning and history
Find out the meaning of the fleur de lis and its history. From its history and roots in France, to its use in the U.S. and other countries around the world.
Lacoste village and Château de Marquis de Sade: Travel guide
Explore the tiny village of Lacoste in the Vaucluse near the Luberon in Provence. From its history with the Marquis de Sade, what to see, and more.
What is Boursin cheese?: 6 Fun Facts
Find out why boursin cheese is so popular in France, and how it is made, what to serve it with, and much more.
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