Eco-friendly skiing holidays in France

As we reassess travel in the light of the current situation, our holidays need to be reinvented - and the mountains are no exception to the rule. Preserving them is now more of a priority than ever. France's ski resorts have launched numerous eco initiatives and are successfully raising awareness among their visitors.

Small daily actions

The route to 'green skiing' is creating initiatives carried out on a daily basis in each resort. Through schemes such as the use of renewable energy, waste collection campaigns, energy-saving lifts and hybrid piste groomers, many French ski resorts are increasing efforts to reduce their environmental impact.

Free bus shuttles included with ski passes to limit personal vehicle journeys, compost toilets on the slopes, local food sourcing and the use of locally grown seeds to re-plant sites, cutting-edge technologies for snow maintenance and the protection of biodiversity... All these activities are part of daily life in French resorts. Here’s a round-up of more of the remarkable environmental actions being implemented in the mountains.

The 'Flocon Vert' (Green Snowflake) label

Valuing mountain destinations in a cutting-edge sustainable development policy, the Flocon Vert label guarantees the sustainable commitment of mountain tourist destinations and is awarded to candidate resorts following a demanding audit. Châtel, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Megève, Chamrousse, Les Rousses, Valberg and La Pierre Saint-Martin have all been awarded the label. Les Arcs-Bourg-Saint-Maurice, Courchevel and Avoriaz 1800 are next for consideration.

Environmental commitments to protect the mountains in French ski areas

In October 2020, the French ski areas (domaines skiables français) established an environmental roadmap comprising 16 eco-commitments to help protect the mountains, with concrete measures in terms of climate and greenhouse gas emissions, water management, the protection of biodiversity and the preservation of landscapes. One of the objectives set by the French ski areas is to achieve carbon neutrality from 2037, with zero CO2 emissions.

French ski areas are choosing 100% renewable energy sources

At least 48 ski lift companies have committed to a sustainable approach to reduce their CO2 emissions by using exclusively renewable energy sources, including hydroelectricity, wind power and photovoltaics. They have signed contracts with suppliers that guarantee them 100% renewable (and therefore carbon-free) electricity. By choosing to purchase renewable energy, the ski areas also agreeing to pay more for their electricity, while asserting their values of respect for the environment and natural resource management in line with sustainable development.

A non-exhaustive list of ski areas whose lifts and infrastructure are powered by 100% renewable energy: Arêches-Beaufort, Champagny-en-Vanoise, Châtel Portes du Soleil, Col de Rousset, Courchevel, La Clusaz, La Pierre-Saint-Martin, La Plagne, La Toussuire, Lans-en-Vercors, Le Corbier, Le Grand Bornand, Le Grand Massif, Les 2 Alpes, Les Arcs Peisey-Vallandry Villaroger, Les Coches, Les Contamines Montjoie, Les Gets, Les Menuires, Les Rousses, Les Saisies, Les Sybelles, Le Massif des Brasses, Méribel, Montchavin, Plagne Montalbert, Pralognan-la-Vanoise, Reallon, Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise, Serre Chevalier, Tignes, Val d'Isère, Val Thorens, Vars La Forêt Blanche.

Green Globe: an internationally recognised label

Green Globe (External link) is an international label designed for travel and tourism professionals. It's recognised by the World Tourism Organisation and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which rewards the efforts of tourism companies in their social, economic, cultural and environmental efforts. The Green-Globe-certified French ski areas are Le Grand Massif (Flaine, Les Carroz, Morillon, Samoëns and Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval), Tignes and Val d'Isère, for all their ski lifts, slopes, snow grooming, snow production and sales activity.

Aims to reduce ski lifts' electricity consumption

In Val Cenis (External link) , an IT platform displays the real-time energy consumption by devices and ancillary premises, allowing the resort to adapt its operation according to staff attendance times, number of skiers and outside temperature. The main ski lifts in the area are equipped with sensors and transmitters which send information back to the platform. The device automatically analyses the wait for the ascent in real time, and provides an indication to the driver so that he can reduce speed where possible.

As the electricity consumption of a ski lift is the square of the speed, by reducing the speed of a detachable chairlift from 6 m/s to 4 m/s, the electricity consumption can be reduced by almost 50% while only increasing the average travel time by around 90 seconds. The expected electricity savings over a season are between 10 and 30%. At Les Sybelles (External link) , a similar device exists on the main ski lifts, which acts directly on the speed of the ski lift automatically, without requiring any action from the driver. The Massif des Brasses (External link) has implemented a ski flow management function on several lifts, again in order to reduce speed where possible. This speed reduction is automatic at Arêches Beaufort (External link) . At Les Arcs-Peisey Vallandry, teleport drivers slow down the devices depending on the number of visitors. The cabins' electrical outlets are cut overnight between 8pm and 5am, and heating is reduced during the same period.
*Source: Domaines Skiables (External link)

Accustomed to thinking responsibly, the resort of Les Arcs, accessible from the valley by electric cable car (External link) , has also chosen to equip Arc 1600 residences with wood-fired biomass boilers and install photovoltaic panels on the roofs of lift stations and structural buildings in resort.

'Be part of the mountain': biodiversity initiatives

The Vanoise National Park (External link) and regional natural parks of the Bauges (External link) and Chartreuse (External link) mountains are home to an astounding number of species, both plant and animal. In these magnificent spaces, cross-country skiing, off-piste skiing and snowshoeing have an impact on wildlife and on the Alpine environment. In particular, they cause exhausting flight behaviours for animals, weakened by winter conditions. To educate the public and promote a more harmonious coexistence between wildlife and outdoor activities, these areas have joined forces under 'Be part of the mountain (External link) ', a scheme offering workshops, naturalist observation points and educational approaches as part of outings with mountain guides.

A bioclimatic hotel, ecogites, bivouacs and more

The mountains boast many types of accommodation and experiences in complete harmony with nature. In Les Carroz-des-Arâches, the Croix de Savoie (External link) is the very first bioclimatic hotel in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Owners Edwige, Jean-Marc and Gaetan Tiret are taking an ecological and bioclimatic approach that makes sense, including using eco building materials, renewable energy sources, environmentally-friendly cleaning products and organic menus. The hotel even offers preferential prices to guests who use public transport to arrive. This innovative hotel has even more plans to develop its ecological credentials by installing green roofs.

Also in Savoie, Ecogites (External link) meets very strict environmental requirements, including the use of renewable energy, energy-efficient recycling, water management and the use of local materials throughout.

In Flumet - Saint Nicholas-la-Chapelle, near Megève and La Clusaz, the ecolodges “Entre Terre et Ciel" (External link) allow guests to forget the hassles of everyday life in a natural, protected environment. The rustling of trees, birdsong, the sound of a bubbling stream and a cosy night in a treehouse await. Another unusual adventure in nature, not far from Annecy, can be experienced at Alpes Bivouac (External link) , who offer unusual activities as well as quirky green accommodation.

In Le Corbier, in the Sybelles ski area, the MMV Etoile des Sybelles (External link) hotel residence is the first and most important 3D wood modular project in Europe, produced in the region from renewable materials. It houses 99 apartments and suites with lounges, entertainment rooms and wellness areas. And in a pedestrianised area in Auris-en-Oisans, the Auris guesthouse (External link) is a certified 'House in the countryside'.

The Refuge de la Boire (External link) in Besse-en-Oisans is an Alpine chalet in a beautifully wild natural setting, offering hikes from the doorstep and total tranquillity. It's suitable for people with electromagnetic hypersensitivity and access is by snowshoes or ski touring, ideal for experienced visitors accustomed to winter conditions (off marked trails) or accompanied by a mountain professional.

The Val Lachard (External link) in Villard-de-Lans is an old farmhouse renovated in the style of a large family home with high-end comforts. Combining tradition with innovation, this 'passive' house benefits from permanent air renewal providing natural oxygenation, in perfect harmony with its environment.

Eco cuisine

New restaurants, new chefs, innovative concepts… Mountain cuisine is going green, led by a generation of chefs committed to the preservation of their territory. They are concerned about improving their practices and reinventing responsible production methods, managing their waste in an eco-responsible way, devising more plant-based dishes based on quality local, seasonal produce - and overall investing in a more sustainable mountain environment.

On the Michelin-starred side, six restaurants in the Alps received a green macaron, awarded for the first time in 2020 and rewarding chefs for their exemplary approach to sustainable cuisine. These are Ursus (External link) in Tignes, the Moulin de Léré (External link) in Vailly, the Clos des Sens (External link) in Veyrier-du-Lac, Auberge du Père Bise (External link) in Talloires-Montmin, Yoann Conte (External link) in Veyettre-du-Lac and Maison Aribert (External link) in Uriage.

Your safety and wellbeing are our top priorities

All staff in the French mountains are doing their utmost to ensure you experience an unrestricted and hassle-free holiday, and are at your disposal from the very first steps of your booking.

Specific protocols dedicated to the winter season have been drawn up by professionals from within different sectors. Everyone is adapting to the unique situation in innovative ways, committed to guaranteeing visitor safety while ensuring their full enjoyment.

For more details on the measures in place in French ski resorts, click here.