Motorway blockades French farmers have caused disruption for British skiers heading to and from the Alps.
Farmers used tractors and burning hay bales to block more than 70 roads in France last weekend, including the main A43 from Grenoble airport to several major ski areas, including the Three Valleys.
Both the A7 and A9 from Lyon to the Spanish border were closed for a total of 400 kilometres, causing severe delays for skiers flying into Lyon and Toulouse and heading over the border to ski in Andorra.
Some skiers had to make lengthy detours to avoid the blockades, adding several hours to their journeys.
Travel to and from other gateway airports, including Geneva, was also affected.
The port of Calais also warned travellers to expect delays on roads to and from the port, and there were traffic jams in and out of Paris.
French farmers’ unions FNSEA and the Jeunes Agricultueurs plan to step up their action today, threatening to blockade roads around the capital. Authorities in Lyon are also expecting further action and Alpine transfer companies are warning clients to expect further disruption.
Skiworld, one of the largest ski operators to France, said it was able to re-route most of its transfer coaches off the motorways to avoid last weekend’s protests, so customers were delayed by only 20-25 minutes, although one coach was held up for two hours.
No Skiworld customers missed their flights as the operator brought forward departures from resorts to negate the effects of diversions around Grenoble.
“We will be making similar contingency plans this weekend,” said a Skiworld spokesperson.
Inghams said it had also taken contingency plans for arriving and departing customers. A spokesperson added: “Whilst there was some disruption, it was not severe and all Inghams customers made it to their resorts and airports in time.
“We will continue to monitor the situation over the next week and make contingency plans again this weekend if needed. The Inghams operations team are very experienced in handling a multitude of situations and do a brilliant job of making sure our guests are well cared for.”
The farmers say the introduction of environmental policies is hurting their bottom line and making them uncompetitive with other countries.
Local media in France has also reported a possible strike by French ski lift operators tomorrow, although this is not expected to have a major impact.
“When this happened last year, the disruption was minimal. We are not expecting any significant issues with this but will obviously monitor closely,” added Skiworld.
Inghams it was not aware of any ‘major disruption’ planned to ski lift operations in France, adding: “We will continue to monitor and adapt if, and when, news of strike action develops.”