GRENOBLE, France (AFP) - With no chill in the air and very little snow around, one French ski resort that has been blessed with snowfall has been forced to impose quotas to prevent a run on its slopes.
"Conditions are exceptional. As we are nearly the only station open in the Haute-Savoie region, we are expecting serious crowds," said Stephane Lerendu, director of the tourism office at the Avoriaz ski station in eastern France.
The ski station has a maximum capacity of 12,000 skiers per day, but a snow drought in the neighbourhood has the resort fearing many more may descend on their slopes.
Ski passes will thus be issued as a priority to holidaymakers from the region and then a quota will be applied until nearby stations have sufficient snowfall to open.
Located at an altitude of 1,800m Avoriaz has been able to open most of its slopes.
Meteo France, the country's meteorological service, said there has not been such a dearth of snow since 2006, particularly in the northern Alps.
French Mountains, which promotes mountain tourism in France, this week said only 40 of some 200 skiing stations were open across France.
Austria and Switzerland, which along with France are home to some of Europe's most coveted ski slopes, are also waiting anxiously for snow as the key Christmas holiday season arrives.