10 tips for a sustainable holiday in the mountains

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Alps - Mont BlancPyreneesJura MountainsNature and Outdoor ActivitiesMountains

Paseo por la montaña, en la región Auvernia-Ródano-Alpes.
© WorldElse - Paseo por la montaña, en la región Auvernia-Ródano-Alpes.

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 3 January 2024

Being conscious of the environment whilst taking a holiday in the mountains isn't impossible, quite the opposite. For a sustainable and rejuvenating holiday, you can take the train and other sustainable ways of travel. Find farm produced products and don't forget to also treat yourself to a wellness spa treatment. You can also learn how to better preserve biodiversity by taking part in an eco-responsible event. You can even sleep in unusual accommodation and star gaze. Here are a few non-exhaustive suggestions for relaxing at altitude without rushing.

Sustainable travel

For a serene and eco-friendly holiday, remember to leave your car in the garage! All the ski resorts are accessible by train and then by bus. Once there, many alternative means of transport are available to get around without breaking the bank. The resort of Les Gets in the Alps is a good example. With an inter-resort shuttle service, including in the evening, a small train with panoramic views as well as buses running on natural gas, and electrical charging points for cars. In summer, self-service mountain bikes and electric bicycles are available. Sustainable tourism in the mountains begins with adopting eco-friendly travel. It is the best way to disconnect from everyday life and enjoy the landscape while being mindful of the environment.

Les Gets

Follow the Flocon Vert

Choose a resort committed to sustainable tourism. It's easy to find your way around. All you have to do is identify the Flocon Vert (Green Snowflake), the environmental label of reference for mountain destinations. About 22 of them have the precious label. Among the many criteria to be respected to obtain this label, the promotion of local heritage and sustainable development benefits both tourists and inhabitants. Efforts to promote local crafts, protected areas and the organisation of eco-responsible events are notably rewarded.

Label Flocon Vert

Eat local and organic products

The mountains win you over and whet your appetite! The good news for epicureans is that the Alps are full of addresses where you can find organic products in short circuits. The farms are just a few metres from the slopes. The first stop is Grand-Bornand, in Haute-Savoie with its very friendly grocery shop, Aux Comptoirs des Alpes. The stalls are filled with Savoyard charcuterie and cheeses. You can also find organic Crozets with hazelnuts, local beers and a honey dispenser. The resort has been awarded the Flocon Vert label in 2021.

In Morzine, beer rhymes with sustainable initiatives. At Le Bec Jaune, the beer is brewed on site which means no more pollution and transport costs. Local cider and home-made elderberry juice are also served. In the kitchen, the bread is made from local flours, the butter and milk come from the Caly farm. The micro-brewery even has a vegetable garden. As a committed player, the establishment is part of a clothing exchange, from which the money is used to plant trees.

Aux Comptoirs des Alpes (le Grand-Bornand) Le Bec Jaune (Morzine)

Choose eco-friendly accommodation

How about spending your next holiday in a completely renovated mountain farm? Head for the Val d'Arly, at the foot of Mont Blanc. That's where you'll find Toî du Monde - an eco-hotel with very high environmental performance. The 600m² family building is carbon neutral and self-sufficient in energy thanks to thermal solar panels and a wood log boiler. Meals can be provided by a local catering service. On the menu: garden vegetables, cheese, meat and fish supplied by local producers and fishermen.

Le Toî du Monde Val d'Arly Mont-Blanc

Rejuvenate in natural spa waters

Sustainable tourism, for the thermal spas, is a bit like a return to the roots. It is in the mountains, where respect for natural elements such as water, takes on its full meaning, that wellness cures have been developed. In the heart of the Auvergne volcanoes, the Thermes du Mont-Dore are committed to preserving the environment through a pilot action carried out in each of the departments: biodegradable treatment bibs, ecological cleaning products, hand towels made from food bricks, wrapping films for poultice treatments recycled as agricultural tarpaulins.
In the Alps, at the foot of Mont Blanc, the Saint-Gervais thermal baths have adopted a geothermal solution to heat the building, all wtaer and pools. This is an energy-saving, ecological (200 tons less CO² released into the atmosphere) and comfortable solution. The curists thus enjoy a constant temperature and hygrometry. It's a win-win situation!

Chaîne Thermale du Soleil - le Mont Dore Les Thermes de Saint-Gervais

Connect with nature and the mountains in a national park

From the Ecrins to La Vanoise, via the Mercantour, the national mountain parks are an ideal playground for lovers of wide open spaces, as long as you get to know them in order to respect them better. For a sustainable tourism rich in resourcefulness, dare a nature holiday in the Mercantour. Head for Valberg, the village resort of the Southern Alps, an hour from the Côte d'Azur. Two accommodations to suggest: the first, La Croix Saint-Jean - a bed and breakfast with the Esprit Parc Naturel label - offers dishes cooked with local and seasonal products. A native of the region, the hostess shares her love of the land and gives valuable advice on energy consumption. The second, l'Amoucié, is suitable for travellers in search of unusual accommodation with its gypsy caravan for two people with unobstructed views to st. The Alpes Azur Mercantour territory is part of the third International Dark Sky Reserve in France (RICE). Keep your eyes wide open!

Valberg

Go to an eco-friendly event

The mountains aren't just for winter. When their white coat gives way to greenery, we become aware of the fragile ecosystems at altitude. Every summer, many resorts organise events to make young holidaymakers aware of the need to protect the environment while having fun. At Praz-de-Lys Sommand in Haute-Savoie, there is hut building, collecting, making objects from recycled materials, Land Art workshops and tree climbing. In Le Orres in the Southern Alps, the 'Game of Trees' festival combines nature and culture. On the programme: concerts, shows, documentary screenings, photo exhibitions and meetings with eco-adventurous sportsmen and women as well as leading witnesses of climate change. From 1 to 5 August 2022, you can take part in various eco-responsible activities.

Praz-de-Lys Sommand Les Orres

Protect biodiversity

Did you know that peatlands are heat and drought resistant? An important ally in the fight against global warming. To preserve these essential wet mosses in the mountains, which are threatened with extinction, several awareness-raising actions are being carried out for the public. In Gérardmer, in the Vosges, the Conservatoire des Espaces Naturels de Lorraine invites visitors to take part in educational guided tours and take part in efforts to protect these buffer zones. In Alpe d'Huez, floral greenhouses with more than 10,000 species, which are then replanted on the estate, have been created to protect local biodiversity.

Gérardmer Alpe d'Huez

Visit all year round

The Louron Valley is a landlocked and preserved area, committed to sustainable all-season tourism, thanks to its diverse attractions. There are two winter sports resorts - Peyragudes and Val Louron - one dedicated to experienced skiers and the other to families and beginners, as well as a thermal water balneotherapy centre, a first in the Pyrenees, and water sports activities around the lake of Génos-Loudenvielle. Classified as a Grand site d'Occitanie and Pays d'Art et d'histoire, the region is also crossed by the Tour de France riders. You can easily move from one activity to another due to the innovative SkyVall gondola which provides a 10-minute link between the valley and the resort of Peyragudes all year round. A gentle mode of transport that saves up to 270 tonnes of CO²! Practical and ecological.

Pyrénées 2 Vallées Peyragudes

Be kind to the mountains

Promoting sustainable tourism that respects the mountains and local populations is vital to limit the harmful effects of the climate crisis. Tourism professionals are convinced of this. The Vanoise and Ecrins national parks are working in this direction alongside the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region by encouraging new eco-responsible practices. For example, promoting summer holidays, attracting more families, making it possible to welcome people with reduced mobility thanks to the Tourism & Disability label, protecting biodiversity, preserving arts and crafts and ancestral expertise through the discovery of mountain villages and workshop-boutiques. So many good reasons to rethink mountain holidays!

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