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Alpine ski stations going the extra green mile

November 25, 2010

Wow what do you know, it’s snowing in Paris, in November!!!! It just started as I sat down to write this, just slushy for now, but snow all the same and more is forecast this weekend.

Maybe you’re reading this already thinking about your winter holidays, but do you know what your favourite ski stations are doing in terms of protecting the environment? All in all, 50 ski stations in France have signed up to a National Charter in favour of Sustainable Development in the Mountains. The manner of adherence to the scheme varies somewhat and the ideal resort doesn’t exist, but the following examples (by no means an exhaustive list!) demonstrate that strides are indeed being taken to preserve the future of mountain winter tourism:

1. Avoriaz “The Stash”

I have to rave about this first one, such a simple concept, but already a great success: “The Stash” is an ecological snowpark in Avoriaz, where they have created a fun terrain for all those jumps and tricks using just natural locally sourced wood and natural obstacles like rocks, snow and trees. They are also trying to impart some ecological messages without ramming it down people’s throats. There’s a mixture of free-ride and freestyle. Total length of the park is just under a mile (1.3km) with a vertical descent of 470m. To get to the park take the Prolays chairlift.

Check out this short video to give you an idea of what’s in store in the snowpark….

Avoriaz ski station

This station has taken significant steps to minimise their environmental impact. They now have the worldwide ISO 140001 certification and the European Label for alternative transport, indeed the station itself is pedestrian. The new mechanical lifts building meets the environmental standard HQE (Environmental High Quality) and the ski lifts themselves are certified QSE (Environmental Quality Service). Municipal aid for use of energy management devices and renewable energy grants for the installation of solar panels. Used water is treated biologically and there are 14 recycling collection points. Employees also operate an internal vehicle share programme.

To get there by public transport

  • Train station: Thonon-Les-Bains or Cluses
  • Regular bus available for about 14 €, taking approximately 60 mins
  • Tourist Office > tel : +33 (0)4 50 74 02 11

Website :

2.    Mont-Blanc Ecotourism – Chamonix & Megève

The Mont Blanc Ecotourism Association was founded by the tourist boards of Megève and Chamonix in December 2007, both certified by ISO 14001.
Today, it covers various socio-economic enterprises in the Mont Blanc area.

  • Hospitality (eg. Hotels “Le Morgane” 3*, “Les Aiglons” 4* )
  • Ski School (eg. Ecorider)
  • Service providers, shopkeepers
  • Mountain guides etc..

The purpose of this association is to develop responsible tourism in the Mont Blanc by networking all stakeholders around a common theme.
Each member undertakes to :

  • Track and reduce its consumption
  • Minimise and sort its waste
  • Give priority to sustainable procurement
  • Educate staff
  • Be consistent in its approach to this activity.


The Hotels “Le Morgane” 3*, “Les Aiglons” 4* are both part of the Best Western chain of independents which has an excellent reputation in France in terms of encouraging their members to get certified under the Green Globe label…

For more information:

Ski school “Ecoriders”

This is a ski school is committed to sustainable development. Their aim is to get you to practice the new fun pursuits in the mountains whilst limiting your impact on the planet. Ecoriders being the pioneers they are have already prepared the first carbon footprint report in the ski industry, (in collaboration with Mountain Riders, an organisation mentioned in a previous post). They off-set their greenhouse gas emissions by planting trees with an aim of achieving zero emissions.

As ecotourism stakeholders of the Chamonix valley, 1% of turnover (sales) is donated to the foundation “1% for the Planet”. They have a common environmental approach and aim to provide a quality service using local purchases eg. basket meals using local agricultural produce.

Mont Blanc

2.1 Chamonix ski station

Easy access by train. A protected area of 19 000ha has been set up in the around Mont Blanc, under the Natura 2000 scheme. Municipal aid is given for the installation and use of renewable energy, plus help for projects meeting the requirements HQE. 30% of the 106 points of rubbish collection also provide recycling, plus there is composting for all green waste. The operator Mont-Blanc Company is certified QSE. Employees operate an internal vehicle share programme. Chamonix is also a station with services for the disabled.

To get there by public transport

  • Train station: Chamonix Mont Blanc
  • Tourist Office > tel: +33 (0) 4 50 53 00 24
  • Website:

2.2 Megève ski station

Photovoltaic and thermal solar panels and a hydro electric turbine on the Exhibition Centre; recovery of heat produced from cooling the icerink in order to heat the swimming pool and the gymnasium; solar photovoltaic panels on the retirement home.
93 recycling collection points, 50 bins on the pistes. Megève is also a station with services for the disabled.
The tourist office, Megeve Tourism was certified ISO 14001 in 2007.

To get there by public transport

  • Train station: Sallanches, 12km  away from Megève
  • Tourist Office > tel: +33 (0) 4 50 21 27 28
  • Website:

3 La Clusaz ski station

A personal favourite of mine this one as it is the archetypal pretty village station with wooden roofs and was also my very first experience of skiing in France.

Picturesque La Clusaz

Protected areas of the Aravis mountains set up as part of the Natura 2000 scheme. Green energy is purchased from ENALP for the lift services. Photovoltaic solar panels and geothermal heating in the  gîte « Le Vieux Madrier » (on the plateau Confins) & solar photovoltaic panels on the refreshment booth at Paccaly.

Label “Famille Plus Montagne”: reductions and facilities suitable for families.

Employees operate an internal vehicle share programme. La Clusaz is also a station with services for the disabled.

To get there by public transport

  • Train station: Annecy
  • Regular bus available for about 8 €, taking approximately 45 mins
  • Top deal Formula Mobilalp (bus + lift pass) at Annecy from 24 €, every weekend from early January to late March

One place to stay in the vicinity that engages in sustainable methods is Aravis Lodge. Named after the Aravis mountains where it is located, this 100-year-old chalet in the small village of St Jean de Sixt, not too far from La Clusaz has solar panels for heating and hot water, recycles and composts its waste and aims to provide as much locally sourced produce as possible.

Like EcoRiders, this lodge also offsets its carbon emissions.

For more information see

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