Sustainable tourism in the French mountains

There is a strong commitment to the philosophy of responsible and sustainable tourism in France’s mountain resorts, with an emphasis on preserving our precious natural resources, protecting biodiversity, and encouraging responsible tourism. From limiting light pollution to reducing traffic on the roads, there are multiple initiatives now in place and being developed to help protect the environment. Here are some of the highlights of these protective measures.

Going green

Ten French winter sports resorts have been awarded the ‘Flocon Vert’ label (External link) : Les Arcs, Morzine-Avoriaz, Les Rousses, Châtel, La Pierre Saint-Martin, Megève, La Vallée de Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Chamrousse, Valberg and, most recently, Val Cenis. Resorts with this label have committed to take action to develop responsible tourism practices which include reducing energy usage, conserving the environment and natural resources, improved waste management and transport systems, and to implement responsible building and agricultural practices. 6 more resorts are in the process of qualifying for Le Flocon Vert status: Le Grand-Bornand, Saint François Longchamp, Combloux, Manigod, Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc and Valloire.

In December, for the fourth time, Annecy-Le Grand-Bornand will host the BMW IBU Biathlon World Cup (External link) . This time, their goal is to hold a major international event, with up to 62,000 spectators, whilst maintaining a low carbon footprint. Their meticulous planning and preparation mean that they will introduce initiatives such as the use of low exhaust emissions vehicles, and accommodation that promotes pedestrianised travel within the resort.

Eco-friendly transport

From December, the new Orelle-Caron gondola service (External link) will carry up to 2,500 skiers and pedestrians per hour from Orelle in Maurienne to Val Thorens, via the Cime Caron. The journey will take just 45 minutes, taking traffic away from the roads.

L’Eau d’Olle Express gondola service for both pedestrians and skiers will provide a fast and eco-friendly way to travel from Allemond to the resort of Oz-En-Oisans (External link) in about eight minutes. It’s a journey which takes 25 minutes by car.

Eco-responsible projects

The new Museum of Mountain Animals (External link) in Peisey-Vallandry, designed and built in collaboration with the Vanoise National Park, promotes discovery of the mountain’s ecosystem and biodiversity. It is accessible to skiers and pedestrians via a 6-minute journey on the Vallandry gondola. Entry is free.

In Les 2 Alpes (External link) , the much-loved glacier has always been proactively preserved. The snow groomers are equipped with GPS and radars to constantly measure the snow against a reference line established at the beginning of the season. A team of snow engineers analyse the results. This helps to define the impact of attendance and to trigger damage limitation operations if needed, including snow production, water management, installation of snow barriers and preservation tarpaulins. Though the glacier is undoubtedly melting, daily maintenance is slowing its progression.

In Alpe d’Huez (External link) , there is a concerted effort to protect and preserve the environment in everyday life. Since 2005, 150 pylons and 50 km of cables have been removed. Efforts include revegetation and limiting light pollution by reducing any unnecessary public lighting. A hybrid shuttle runs throughout the year. The resort also has the highest greenhouses in France in which 2,000 perennials and 1,200 annual plants are grown each year for the resort.

In Valloire (External link) , Christophe Travignet and Steeve Lourachi run their farm-inn La Ferme des Étroits (External link) with a vision for sustainable agriculture and farming. In their farm shop they feature local heritage cheeses, as well as locally grown produce. Visitors are welcome to join them when they milk their herd of Tarentaise cows, a Savoie breed. And there are three guest rooms which have Bienvenue à la Ferme status.

In the spruce forest of Piégut, in Auris-en-Oisans (External link) , which is one of the most beautiful in Europe, go hiking or snowshoeing with guide Jacques le Bûcheron. On this botanical trail you will discover the riches and secrets of the forest: its plants, their uses, and the role that the forest plays for those who live in Auris. Pick up a map from the tourist office to explore this remarkable route and its natural heritage (Natura 2000 classification).

Health measures in ski resorts 2021-22: what to expect

From 4 December 2021, the pass sanitaire (health pass) is required by everyone aged 12 and over:
-For air, inter-regional train and coach travel to resorts
-To access ski lifts
-To access ski schools
-To enter bars, restaurants and cultural venues
-To enter nightclubs and late-night bars
-To access certain accommodation where there is a restaurant, fitness area or swimming pool.

It is not required for entrance to shops (including equipment hire shops) and tourist offices.

Face masks are compulsory while queuing for lifts and on board lifts (neck warmers accepted), and when indoors or in outdoor gatherings at ski schools – but not while skiing.

Further information for your skiing holiday: