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France's 'warmest end of year on record' — good for sunseekers, bad for skiers

The mild weather has increased the risk of avalanche in Savoie, with a risk of 4 on a 5-level scale.
The mild weather has increased the risk of avalanche in Savoie, with a risk of 4 on a 5-level scale.   -   Copyright  EBU   -  
By Euronews  with EBU

France is experiencing its warmest end of year on record, with temperatures 10 degrees warmer than average in some regions, according to forecasts by the national meteorological service Météo France.

Bordeaux residents are making the most of the good weather, as the period between Christmas and New Year's Eve should be the warmest in the country's history.

"It's nice, good, and warm. We're making the most of the good weather," said a resident.

Between Wednesday and Thursday, records were even broken north of the River Seine, with temperatures reaching 15°C to 17°C.

"It's been a beautiful week," a man said. "People are outside and despite all the is going on, people are making the most of it."

Meanwhile, in Switzerland, the mild weather is threatening to spoil an excellent start to the ski season.

One such affected resort is Grindelwald, located at an altitude of 1034 metres above sea level, where snow was replaced with rain this week.

"It's not so great. Everything is quite wet. But we make the best out of it. Now we are here and there is still a bit of snow," shared Marco Zengg, a skier.

While the number of skiers was down, some other low-altitude resorts had to close altogether over Christmas.

The situation will be made even more complicated through the end of the week, with temperatures of 10°C-15°C forecast at 1000 metres.

The mild weather has also increased the risk of avalanche in the French département of Savoie, with a risk of 4 on a 5-level scale.

Claude Schneider, a ski patroller and rescue worker in La Plagne, observes the snow cover several times a day, and the heavy rain worries him.

"You have to know that fresh, light snow, in very good condition, weighs about 40 to 50 kilos per cubic metre, and at the time of the 1 pm reading, it weighed 250 kilos per cubic metre. So it is heavy and the heavier it is the less it will hold on the slopes, which is very bad for the risk of avalanches," he explained.

Higher up, it snowed more than 50 centimetres in certain places and rain sometimes made an appearance.

Météo France forecasts a return of the sun for the next few days, with less rain, but more very mild temperatures.

According to environmentalists, a succession of warmer winters is probably a direct impact of climate change.

Watch the full report in the video player, above.