The Alps are the birthplace of downhill skiing and a crucible attracting mountain climbers from everywhere — and now the French government is trying to help towns at the heart of the lucrative tourism industry adapt to a warming world.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Friday is visiting the Sea of Ice on Mont Blanc, where the retreating glacier has been marked over more than a century. It's been a major tourist attraction since the 19th century, and scientists say the area is becoming increasingly unstable.

Ski stations at mid-altitude are particularly vulnerable to increasingly inconsistent snow, threatening jobs in a region that depends heavily on tourism. Valls is visiting the region to highlight France's role as host in the global summit on climate change in November.