France warns the British to tone down their apres ski

BRITISH skiers begin their winter migration to the Alps this week facing the prospect that any holiday high jinks will be met with tough action from local police.

Warnings, especially from the French authorities earlier this year, said that apres piste entertainments would not be condoned this winter. The French ski resorts, especially locations attracting up-market clientele, are worried that their reputations will decline into winter Benidorms if they fail to clamp down on drunkenness and drug abuse.

Although politicians and police chiefs from the French Alps stress that they do not intend to single out the British, their initiative is largely aimed at tourists 'from across the Channel'.

Action was signalled in a letter signed by the mayors of nine French ski resorts last June, when they warned against 'riotous behaviour . . . hooliganism, fighting, alcoholism and drugs'.

Written by the mayor of Val d'Isere, Andre Degouey, the letter called on tour operators to price the 'hooligans' out of the market. A curious strategy because Val d'Isere is already one of the world's most expensive ski resorts.

Mr Degouey stated: 'Promotion should only be aimed at the certain level of clients that we require by setting an appropriate price level.'

Although UK tour operators ignored the demand for a price hike, the cost of this year's French and Swiss ski holidays have increased due to currency changes. Bargain basement ski holidays are this year confined to Spain and Italy.

British travel firms dismissed the French mayor's outburst as xenophobic and 'ill-informed'. They said the resorts had nothing to fear.

Annie Constantinou, public relations executive for Bladon Lines, in London, one of the UK's largest operators in Val d'Isere, said: 'At the first downhill race of the season . . . the resort was packed with the British. The nightclubs were full; the chalets and hotels were full.

'Yet the only trouble we encountered was a drunken French driver crashing into another French car at 4am.' Ms Constantinou added: 'The British spend a lot of money in Val and its unfair to single out the people who've essentially made this resort's reputation.'

Keith Betton, from the Association of British Travel Agents, branded the mayorial outburst as 'totally unrealistic and out of touch'. ABTA had received few complaints and claimed if Mr Degouey had 'done his homework' he would have chosen another way to attract publicity.

The French local politician also warned of 'on the spot' action against drug and alcohol abuse, and promised a clampdown on foreigners living off drug dealing.

The message was echoed by Patrick Pluquet, of the Val d'Isere police. 'We have worked hard on the drug problem here . . . We have come across heroin, hashish, ecstasy and acid. We arrest those found with drugs,' he said.

'Yet local people . . . are more concerned by the level of rowdiness and drunkenness. When you get groups of up to 30 people shouting, screaming or whatever until 6am, it's upsetting. It's not only the English. Swedes, French and others are involved.'

Nevertheless, Mr Pluquet said that many of Val d'Isere's bars were owned by the English and attracted British clients who 'stick together and consume large amounts of alcohol'. He said his officers were under instructions - anyone found drunk in the street would be arrested.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
News
UK Border Control
i100
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Junior / Assistant

£7800 - £13455 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A career opportunity has become ...

Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn