Village in French Alps Bows to a New Reality

Saint-Firmin dismantles decades-old ski lift because it no longer snows enough
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2022 3:25 PM CST
Village in French Alps Gives Up on Snow
A view of the Devoluy mountains from the village of Saint-Firmin, France.   (Getty / Ludwig DeGuffroy)

It used to snow so much in the French Alps village of Saint-Firmin that locals built a ski lift to bring in extra money. This month, however, the village came to terms with a new reality and dismantled that very same ski lift, reports AFP. The reason is pretty simple: "We no longer have the climate that produces constant snow, and we can't install snow cannons here," says local councilor Didier Beauzon. The 63-year-old lifelong resident tells CNN that the lift—installed in 1963—was last used 15 years ago, and then for only a weekend.

"There will always be people who are sad because it's where they learned to ski," says Carmen Grasmick of Mountain Wilderness, a group that has gotten quite a bit of practice in recent years helping villages dismantle such lifts. "But there are places like here where they have the courage to turn the page," he says of Saint-Firmin. "Because in any case, there's nothing else to be done." The group estimates that 3,000 rusting ski lifts are in similar straights throughout the mountain ranges of France.

CNN notes that the French ski resort of Val Thorens, which just happens to be the highest altitude resort in all of Europe, said earlier this month it had to push back the opening of ski season a week to November 26 because of an unusually warm fall. And that follows a summer that saw record-high temperatures in France and all across Europe, along with accompanying wildfires. The French Environment Ministry estimates that 62% of the population is exposed to either "significant" or "very significant" climate risks. (Read more French Alps stories.)

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