The small resorts of the Massif Central, like the others, do not miss snow this year. But all winters are not alike and in the face of global warming, they rely on artificial snow and a diversification of their activities.
Chalmazel (Loire), nestled in the regional park Livradois-Forez, will engage a vast reorganization, by 2021, to strengthen its ski area over the next 15 years.
The first phase of the project, estimated at 5.2 million euros, will replace its snow cannons with latest generation models , less energy-consuming, and enlarge the reservoir of water necessary for their operation, from 3,000 to more than 15,000 cubic meters.
"This winter is a good season, but without snow of culture, we do not We should be able to quickly guarantee quality snow at the bottom of the slopes, "explains Jean-François Gibert, Director of the Loire Tourism Development Agency.
Because if the ski This family resort, at an altitude of 1,640 meters, is now enjoying natural snow, the flakes have been sorely missed over the past three years.
At the foot of Mont Mézenc, the Estables resort (Haute-Loire) also believes that "snowmakers" have "saved" installed in 2013 with private capital, mainly from traders. "So, we did not make zero euros of revenue at the end of the season and that allowed us to keep our jobs," said the president of the Investment Company for Estables station, Philippe Michel, who rents ski equipment.
"To prepare for the future and invest, it is often necessary to consolidate the snow resource because it is part of the fundamental elements of the economic equilibrium", abounds Jean-Philippe Bosse, associate consultant of the cabinet of Protourism studies
A race with shallots criticized by the Court of Auditors, however, which looked at the strategy of stations facing the global warming. For her, "it does not allow, at best and at a high cost, the preservation of minimal snow," which does not deter skiers from moving to snow-covered areas.
– Cheapest packages –  But the small areas of the Massif Central believe they still have a "playing card" and highlight the fallout of such equipment. "We must think in terms of economy induced, they are economic lungs in winter," said Hervé Pounau, director of the Lioran station and regional delegate of Domaines Skiables de France, the professional chamber of the sector.
"On can not condemn a whole local economy on the hypothesis of warming.It must be adapted ", judge Philippe Michel.
At a time when only 8% of French people go skiing for at least a year on two, these resorts also want to be "stepping stones" for those who can not afford the packages of major estates in the Northern Alps. "Despite their small differences in height, they are very interesting tools to discover skiing, especially for children," confirms Mr. Bosse.
The general trend is also to install "reversible" activities, winter (dogs sledding, snowkiting, fatbike …) as summer (tree climbing, ATV electric assistance …).
Chalmazel plans to install "sledging tubing" equipment (such as a bobsleigh bobsleigh) and sled rail, as well as a fun route with zip lines.
In Aveyron, the Brameloup area has joined four other small resorts in the Aubrac highlands in a Pole of outdoor activities, and hopes to become a site labeled for mountain biking.
"We play on the complementarity because we do not have the financial means to go to the arms race", recognizes the chief of exploitation, Gonzalo Diaz.
This new scale of territory and the diversification of the activities , which recommends the Court of Auditors, "this is the last chance for the stations.They wanted to give up but here it remakes, especially when the snow is back," says Mylène Gras, future Park Regional Nature of Aubrac.