Amnéville: Ski season lasts all year at French indoor facility
Stars and Stripes June 19, 2007
Did the pathetic winter ski season leave you longing for a chance to touch snow? Is the longing so strong that you can’t wait until next season?
Then the Snowhall in Amnéville, France, might be your answer.
Billed as the longest indoor skiing facility in Europe, the hall gives both skiers and snowboarders something to relish.
The area around Amnéville, less than 90 miles west of Kaiserslautern, Germany, has become a major recreational destination. It has a leisure park with a series of spring-fed mineral pools, a zoo, an aquarium, a motorbike museum and all kinds of other curiosities, including a multiplex cinema with an IMAX theater.
The Snowhall is near the other attractions, but set off to one side. Part of it is built into a hillside.
The slope is about three-tenths of a mile long, about 115 feet wide and features a drop of nearly 300 feet. It has a 24-inch base of manmade snow, inside a room kept at about 28 degrees. Snow conditions can be adjusted.
After deciphering the confusing price scale and — for those who don’t speak French — trying to communicate with a mix of finger-pointing and sign language, customers are handed a card programmed with ski time and any rental gear purchased.
Then, after dropping a euro coin in the locker to store any extra gear — you can use your own equipment — just swipe your card and enter the winter paradise. Amnéville has nothing to compare to winter resorts like Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany, Grindelwald, Switzerland, or the Arlberg in Austria. But what do you expect for a hot summer day in France?
Just walking onto the faux slope fuels the excitement.
A couple of minutes on a poma lift gets you to the top of the run. Looking down, you see a series of kickers to the left with a couple of rails and a wide open, tuck-your-knees-and-haul right side.
During the summer, the French ski team trains in the mornings. To give them a challenge, the right side is very icy. It is groomed that way for speed.
Sticking to the left provides a much smoother run as you pop and grab over the various-sized tabletop jumps.
On this midweek day in early June, the slope is virtually empty, leaving plenty of room to maneuver and no lift lines. There is sufficient time to make a couple of dozen runs.
Sure, the run lasts only about one minute, but it’s not bad. And more than likely, you’ll have a smile on your snow-deprived face at the end.
On the QT
Directions: The Snowhall is about 90 miles from Kaiserslautern and 75 miles from Spangdahlem, Germany. From Kaiserslautern, take A6 toward Saarbrücken/Trier. After entering France, continue straight onto A320 and exit onto A4/E25 toward Saint-Avold/Metz/Paris/Carling; continue on A4 toward Paris/Luxembourg/ Thionville. Take Exit 36-Semécourt toward Amnéville/Woippy. Follow signs to Amnéville until you see a sign for Les Thermes. After entering Les Thermes, look for Snowhall signs leading to the left side of the area.
Times: Hours are 2-8 p.m. Monday; 10-10 Tuesday and Wednesday; 2-11 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Costs: June through September is the busy season, so prices are slightly higher. Adults pay 19 euros for two hours, 61 euros for eight; buying a card for 4 euros allows you to save extra time for your next visit. If you go over the time purchased, an additional 15 cents per minute is applied. Ski and boot rentals are 6 euros a day. Be sure to pay for rental gear when ski time is purchased. Proof of purchase is electronically programmed on the card used for entry.
Food: There is a nice restaurant and bar open daily for lunch and dinner. McDonald’s is an affordable option nearby, along with various other eateries.
Information: The French-only Web site for Snowhall is www.snowhall.fr An English site is in the works. Visit www.amneville.com for an overview of the entire area. You can also call (+33) (0) 3-87-15-15-15 for details.