| || It’s all there: skiers, ski lifts, and the cold. Only the snow is missing. But snow is rare anyway in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region; it is replaced here by a green turf that is watered constantly to keep it slippery. At 1,050 feet (320 m) in length, Loisinord is Europe’s longest but by no means only synthetic ski slope. The United Kingdom has 110 of them, also built on the slag heaps produced by coal mining. The inhabitants of coal ﬁelds have clearly decided that rather than simply tolerating these mountains of waste, they should use them. By transforming the giant heaps into ski slopes, paraglider runways, amphitheaters, and even bird preserves, they have created tourist attractions in areas that only a few years ago were deserted by tourists. Thus, the Nord-Pas-de-Calais has become France’s sixth-most-popular tourist region. Tourism has even become the second-biggest employer, breathing new life into an area that suffered severe unemployment when the mines were closed.
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