Is Heliskiing illegal in France? [2019 update]

Posted February 15, 2019 under Heliskiing, Italy

Heliskiing is illegal in France and has been since 1985

Technically it is outlawed under Article 76 of Law no.85 of the ‘Mountain Law’ that was passed on 9 January 1985 and confirmed under Article L 363-1 of the Environmental Code.

In French the law says:

Dans les zones de montagne, les déposes de passagers à des fins de loisirs, par aéronef sont interdites sauf sur les aérodromes dont la liste est fixée par l’autorité administrative.

A loose translation of this is that it means that you can’t drop passengers in the mountains for leisure purposes except at authorised locations.

Boarding the chopper in Alagna!

All aboard…!

Posted by James Orr Heliski on Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Banned by the President

Heliskiing had been legal before that, although in 1980 it was banned in the Mont Blanc Massif after the French President Valerie Giscard d’Estaing was lobbied by local groups upset by the noise and environmental damage.

The irony is that Giscard had only finished skiing down from Mont Blanc himself, having been dropped off by a helicopter!

heliskiing alagna
Heliskiing in Alagna – no cliff drops required

Three solutions to the ban on heliskiing in France

There are three possible solutions to help you get around the ban on heliskiing in France.

1. Get dropped in Italy
Get picked up from a designated location in France, get dropped in Italy and end your run in France to get a transfer back

2. ‘Reverse Heliskiing’
Travel up by lifts or skinning, ski down to a designated point and then get picked up by helicopter to take you back to a designated point near a lift. This is sometimes known as ‘Reverse Heliskiiing’.

3. Go to Italy instead!
If you want to go heliskiing, why not do it properly. Go to Alagna and enjoy huge choice of descents in the Monterosa Freeride Paradise ski area.

Heliski options in Monterosa

4 days, 2 helidrops, 1 weekend

Heliski Intro weekends, with three days’ backcountry and one day heliskiing with two helidrops, are available with James Orr Heliski from £1575.

You can find out more about the guides we work with in Alagna and accommodation options in Alagna here.

For any queries and to put your heliski trip together, please contact James Orr on 0333 006 5816

Flying in for a helidrop in Italy