France is Numero Un for skiing, says French No 1.
The head of French skiing, Jean Marc Silva, today joined the Good ski Guide’s great debate on which is the world’s best ski country. And obviously he votes for France, which is the planet’s biggest ski country – and the most visited by skiers.
And surprisingly, the head of France Montagnes does not consider main rival Austria as a competitor – merely as a country which forces France to keep getting better.
Jean Marc says : ‘When I ski in Austria, I think that this country is a good competitor. Austria challenges France to be always better, and to fight to retain our position as Number 1 ski destination in the world. We are developing our après-ski with so that the après-ski experience in France is now the most varied and best in the world.
‘Austria is ultimately not a competitor, it’s first and foremost partner, because we need to convince people to come to mountain resorts for holidays (rather than going on a cruise, to the beach etc). If somebody’s first ski holiday is in Austria and it’s a disaster, it is unlikely they will try skiing again in France (or vice-versa).
‘And we love to have rivals snapping at our heels to improve the quality of our product.’
Jean Marc is of course a fanatical skier and telemarker, driving round the Alps on business with skis and boots in the back seat – and sometimes even with his pet Saint Bernard, Flocon, who is often seen bounding behind his master on the slopes.
JM has recently toured France, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Russia and Andorra on business, but loves getting back to his home in Les Arcs, and living in a mountain resort lets him ski any time he wants, particularly on days off. For holidays he goes on winter and summer educational tours to events such as the Ski world cup.
And closest competitior Austria has had visits from JM in Isghl, Serfaus, Fis, Ladis, St Anton, Interstuck, Zurs and kitzbuhel.
Before running France Montagnes, Jean Marc built up an impressive CV – General manager of Arc 1950, Sales Manager Les Arcs Tourist Office, Sales Manager Condor Ferries, tour operator in St Malo. He also had spells running lifts company 7 Laux, Neyrac (Alsthom) and Pomagalski, the French drag lift specialists.
WHY WE ARE NUMERO UN
Jean Marc produced figures to back his claims, saying :’France is the world leader in skier days with 54 millions skier days a year. (USA : second, Austria : third) for 2014/2015.
‘Our one-day skipass is the cheapest in the world for km of pistes skied – at 24€ a day. So France offers the best value for money. France welcomes 30-35% of foreign customers and we are the leading destination on the French, British and Belgian markets. Our success comes from our huge diversity with our 350 ski resorts, 5 mountain ranges, with options to suit any budget.
- France created the first connected ski area, with a ski safari product.
- France has a great balance between the traditional & charming mountain villages and high-altitude ski resorts.
‘We also invented the art de vivre à la Française or french way of life, which entails the following :
– Gastronomy Wine experience Apres-ski Shopping
– Diversity of the activities
– Range of accommodation including self-catering apartments, hotels, chalets…
JM adds – France was also the world leader for World Cup podium positions last year.
Any exciting new developments planned in the French mountains?
Says Jean Marc :’All the winter I always keep my skis in my car, and I never miss the opportunity to ski in all the ski resorts I visit for business. And I spend most of my time off to ski, to visit ski resorts, and to share a maximum of ski experience anywhere to create my own personal energy and experience.’
New developments :’World class events both on the mountain and in-resort, and constantly evolving ski areas that are more fun and safer, “ski connected”- constant developments enabling skiers to stay connected on the slopes, freestyle (France has some of the best terrain parks in the world), freeride/ski touring- ever more new ways to enjoy skiing on the most varied and best terrain, skiing into spring, summer season.’
Jean Marc concludes:’ I love to have a great ski experience with a real gastronomic experience too. And in France with our 5 mountain ranges, we can offer such an unrivalled experience and a unique diversity.’