Val d’Isère and other ski resorts in the Savoie region of France are launching a massive show of solidarity with UK Remain supporters as the last Eurostar train, before the rescheduled Brexit departure date, leaves Bourg-Saint-Maurice for London early next month.
Some 48% of skiers who visit Val d’Isère each winter come from the UK and locals fear that, at least in the short term, the Brexit chaos may have a significant effect on future bookings. French hoteliers, ski instructors, shopkeepers, and seasonaires who make their living from the ski industry are planning a raucous send off for holidaymakers boarding the final direct train of the season as it leaves the station for St Pancras at 9.30am on 6 April 2019.
Bourg-Saint-Maurice is the railhead for nearby resorts that include Val d’Isère, Tignes, Les Arcs and La Plagne. The show of support is being coordinated by the town’s tourist board, which will be handing out more than 150 croissants. European, British and French flags will decorate the station along with banners showing support for UK visitors and anti-Brexit slogans. Rousing and nostalgic music such as Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’, ‘We’ll Meet Again’ by Vera Lynn, God Save The Queen and La Marseillaise will blare over loudspeakers from 7am onwards as passengers begin to arrive.
Michel Giraudy, Mayor of Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs, and Marc Bauer, Mayor of Val d’Isère say: “We are Europeans! It seems unimaginable for our parents who built Europe to build a new barrier between France and Great Britain. It is incomprehensible for our children born in Europe, who travel without a passport, to face new constraints. And it is unacceptable for the British people living in Haute Tarentaise, and of course for the 500,000 British people who visit our region each winter, to disrupt their holidays in France.”
Cécile Ferrando, Director of Communication of Val d’Isère tourism, says: “Due to current political chaos, the future of the British skiing industry remains unclear as well as how the British clientele will react next season. Everyone in Val d’Isère – accommodation, shops, ski lifts etc. – is concerned about the effects Brexit will really have. All we might say to our British clients is, ‘keep calm and ski on!’.”
In a further anti-Brexit protest, Katie Hall, 24, from Southampton, England, will be swimming the length of the English Channel (35 kilometres / 19 nautical miles) in the Aquasportif Center in Val d’Isère.
To do this, Hall – who works at the Ecole du Ski Français (ESF) offices – needs to swim 200 lengths in the pool per day.
She came up with the idea when she wanted to raise money for Haiti (via Unicef) where cholera is plaguing the country due to the lack of fresh water, but decided to swim the distance of the channel to tie it in with an anti-Brexit protest.
Katie Hall says:“I do this in solidarity with all the people who are currently protesting in England”.
Although Hall is planning to take on the “English Channel” solo, she encourages everyone to join her between 11.30-13.30 until Friday 29 March 2019 to help swim the distance and support both causes.