2020 Advice and tips
This winter, we're going green. Not literally. Being eco-friendly means going green in terms of activities, accommodation choices and what goes on our plates. The best thing about being in the mountains is that its many small producers make it easy to enjoy local, low carbon footprint food.
Choose an eco-friendly destination in the mountains
Opt for eco-labels
The most important component in an eco-friendly holiday is the accommodation. But when it comes to going green, things aren’t that simple. Depending on your needs, constraints and budget, you should take a few things into account so as to not make any mistakes.
Struggling to choose from a long list of destinations? Choose a resort with a ‘sustainable tourism’ label. A few labels already exist in this field, such as Flocon Vert (green flake), carried by the Mountain Riders association, Green Globe, Bienvenue à la Ferme and Gîtes de France/WWF’s Gîte Panda. The resorts of Valberg, Chamrousse and Chamonix Valley are labelled Flocon Vert, while Serre-Chevalier, Val d'Isère and some Club Med resorts have obtained the Green Globe certification. Choosing from any of these labels is a decisive first step towards your eco-friendly holiday!
Requirements for obtaining the Flocon Vert label include low-carbon transport on site and the enhancement of protected areas, a guarantee that the destination in question promotes local heritage and sustainable development for visitors and inhabitants alike. An example of this could be the promotion of local craftsmanship and eco-friendly events.
Take the train
Your choice of transport is an important factor in an eco-friendly holiday – after all, you don’t want to increase your carbon footprint with a long car journey. There are several ways around this:
Head somewhere a stone's throw from home. Where, avoid crossing the whole of France in the car for your spot of fresh air and rejuvenation!
Consider taking low-carbon transport to your destination. Some resorts are accessible by train and free or inexpensive shuttles which are there to get you to your destination, such as Font Romeu. Some resorts can be reached directly by funicular, such as Les Arcs.
Another safe bet is to choose a holiday setting that resonates with ecological awareness, like a national park or a regional natural park. Perfect for nature lovers, these parks are continually working on how to further protect their natural environment and biodiversity, and with the help of museums, they have adopted an educational approach to communicating with visitors, through panels which share information about these areas of natural beauty.
Promote eco-responsible practices
Once you’ve found your holiday destination, you need book your accommodation, eco-friendly of course! We recommend eco-lodges or other committed eco-conscious hosts, such as bed and breakfasts that show genuine respect for their surroundings and use healthy local resources. For example, Le Toî du Monde, a four-star eco-lodge in the Val d'Arly is energy self-sufficient, carbon neutral, and boasts combined solar thermal and wood log heating and natural wood wool insulation. Even at mealtime, you’ll be able to enjoy produce that’s fresh from the vegetable garden, as well as local meat and fish.
In terms of activities, many service providers put eco-responsibility at the heart of their business, providing a fun way for visitors to learn why they should and how they can help preserve the mountains in their own way. For some rest and relaxation, why not reap the direct benefits of nature at a spa such as the thermal baths found at Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc or Mont Dore? The water from the pools is directly sourced at the spring and provides all the benefits of mineral-rich water while respecting the environment.
One advantage of being in the mountains is that many artisanal products are available just a stone's throw from where you’re staying! Local producers wherever you are will be happy to recommend and let you taste their products. The Aux Comptoirs des Alpes grocery shop in Le Grand Bornand offers the best of Alpine products. At the stalls surrounding the carnotzet – a word in the local patois for a communal area for socialising, which in this case serves as a wine and coffee bar – you’ll find cheeses and cold cuts from Savoie, Switzerland and Italy, organic and hazelnut crozets (speciality pasta), beer from local microbreweries and a Bornand honey tap. Markets like these demonstrate the incredible diversity of local artisanal products to be found within a short distance in the mountains, in an atmosphere reminiscent of a market you might find in a city. Also well worth a visit is the local cooperative in the resort where you’re staying, which will offer a wide choice of ultra-local products – you may even see some of the producers working there. By shopping local in a resort, you get to reduce your carbon footprint and tantalise your taste buds!
Adopt a green approach
Once you've arrived at your destination, why not go to some ‘green’ events and get a taste for life at the resort and good practices? Praz-de-Lys Sommand in Haute-Savoie runs a special week themed around the four elements – earth, water, air, and fire – with numerous summer mountain activities. Another idea is to visit protected areas, such as the Tourbiere des Saisies nature reserve, which have been set up to preserve the local flora and fauna. If you’re feeling particularly eco-minded, you could also meet with people who are from the area where you’re staying, to learn more about your surroundings and how you can leave the smallest possible carbon footprint during your stay.