A sign on the road to Les Menuires and Val Thorens reads
© JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT
A sign on the road to Les Menuires and Val Thorens reads "Special equipment required"
Many resorts in the French Alps were only open for limited skiing on Thursday, and some were closed completely, as Storm Eleanor reached the mountains this week.

As well as high winds causing chairlifts and gondolas to be closed for safety reasons, heavy precipitation - both snow and rain - raised the avalanche warning to level 5, denoting the highest level of risk, in many French destinations.

The linked resorts of Tignes and Val d'Isère were among the worst affected. With the avalanche risk at 5, visitors to Tignes were asked to stay indoors until around 11am on Thursday morning until given the all-clear. The ski area for both resorts was closed all day, with no lifts running, and the road to Bourg St Maurice was closed until late afternoon.

Skiers in Les Menuires check a signboard warning of avalanche risks and closed pistes C

Skiers in Les Menuires check a signboard warning of avalanche risks and closed pistes
Trois Vallées resorts including Courchevel, Méribel and Val Thorens also had a level 5 avalanche risk, and although local slopes were open, inter-valley connections across the Trois Vallées ski area were closed for safety reasons.

Similarly, the cable-car link between Les Arcs and La Plagne was closed all day, with a limited service on other lifts in the ski area.

Avalanche expert Henry Schniewind said the avalanche risk was down to three factors. "The avalanche danger this week is directly related to a) the total accumulation of snow; b) the even larger amounts of snow added by wind in many places; and c) the rise and fall of the rain/snow altitude limit," he explained. Wet snow and slush are among the conditions that can make avalanches more likely.