Midweek Distractions 1/31/24: The French Love to Ski

Ski resort in winter Alps. Skiers ride down the slope. Val Thorens, 3 Valleys, France. Beautiful mountains and the blue sky, winter landscape.

I’ve never been skiing. In fact, I’ve never done any kind of winter sport aside from slipping down tiny hills on plastic sleds as a kid. (Not exactly the most athletic of endeavors.) But when I began working with French people, I discovered just how much the French are obsessed with skiing.

Despite the fact that skiing was invented in the Nordic countries (or northern China, it’s hard to be sure), France has the second-highest number of skiers out of any European country. (Germany comes in at #1.) Nearly a quarter of French people between the ages of 15 and 25 go skiing every year, and about 15% of French adults ski. It’s also interesting to note the socioeconomic representation of skiing in France. Coming from the U.S., I associate skiing with wealth. And in France, skiing still has a privileged reputation. Yet studies have shown that French people across different socioeconomic statuses ski at close to the same rates—farmers in France actually ski more than executives or any other group.

Something that has probably contributed to the popularity of skiing in France is the amount of vacation time the French get. There are frequent public holidays that result in long school breaks for children, who then need to be entertained, even in winter. Since most adults get several weeks of paid leave per year, it makes wintertime vacations more accessible. And skiing is a family-friendly vacation activity that is easily accessible from most parts of France, particularly if you live closer to the Swiss border along the Alps.

We recently published a piece comparing skiing prices in France and the U.S. And while I knew that skiing cost money, I was still shocked to see just how much cheaper skiing in France can be, even including travel costs. In France, you can visit one of the top ski resorts, and stay at one of the best hotels in a ski haven like Chamonix, and still walk away without feeling like you need to take out a second mortgage on your home. (The same can’t be said for a trip to Aspen.) So if you’re a fan of skiing, consider taking a trip to France next winter.

National Croissant Day…

Yesterday was National Croissant Day, and out of the many marketing-driven holidays I get PR emails about every week, this might just be my favorite. After all, in my opinion, every day should be Croissant Day. So I decided to update my list of the weirdest things we’ve done to croissants for your enjoyment… cragels, cronuts, cretzels, you name it! And if you want to check out some other French baked goods, take a look at our ultimate guide to French pastries.

Paris Fashion Week…

In case you missed it, I published my opinions of the Spring/Summer 2024 Haute Couture runway shows at Paris Fashion Week. I cannot stop thinking about the iconic runway show from the French fashion house Maison Margiela. Every fashion magazine, blog, and podcaster I follow has not been able to stop gushing over the makeup, the outfits, the production—this was truly a show that will go down in fashion history.

Things I found on the Internet…

French people on vacation. Why French spelling no longer makes sense. And the battle to have galette des rois every day of the year.

Catherine Rickman
Managing Editor, frenchly.us

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