Nature & Mountains / The Alps / Travel Tips

A guide to sustainable ski resorts in the French Alps

Eco-tourism is becoming more and more popular according to the CBI, with climate change now front and centre in our collective mind. Society is slowly edging towards more planet-friendly methods of travel, and it’s an important way to feel a little better about yourself (as well as helping the planet). To that point, there’s nothing quite like enjoying a ski holiday safe in the knowledge that you’re doing all you can to offset the damage to the environment.

Beyond that general sense of satisfaction, there are also some specific reasons to consider eco-tourism next time you’re booking a ski trip. Read on to find out more...


OK, this is an obvious one. But the bottom line is that there are all kinds of ways you can contribute to environmental preservation via eco-friendly tourism. Most notably with regard to a ski trip in the French Alps, visiting resorts that prioritise their own responsible practices is a good place to start. We’ll expand on which resorts fit the bill later in this post.

You’ll enjoy it more!

When you’re talking about responsibility on holiday, it doesn’t have to come at the expense of your own enjoyment. With regard to eco-tourism though, there’s actually an argument to be made that opting for sustainable ski resorts will enhance your experience.

This is because a real correlation has begun to emerge between environmentally responsible destinations and those that people find happiest or most relaxing. The clearest data on this comes from the UK, where a recent Gala Bingo ranking of the UK’s “kindest cities” aligned noticeably closely with Metro’s list of the country’s greenest cities (with Bristol, Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow, and more appearing on both lists).

While this data is specific to UK cities, it speaks to a phenomenon lots of travellers have noticed: There’s a ‘happy vibe’ to green destinations. Thus, finding eco-friendly resorts in the Alps may lead to a more pleasant experience as well!

Studies have found that greener destinations lead to happier visitors!

Support and Inspiration

These aspects of the decision tie into the notion that you’re contributing to preservation by supporting eco-friendly resorts. To emphasise the point, however, we’ll simply remind you that these places are businesses. Accordingly, the more you support them the better they do, and the more word gets out to others.

What To Look For In Eco-Friendly French Alps Destinations

Having good reasons to seek out sustainable ski resorts is one thing. Actually finding the right resorts is another! So here, we want to highlight a few particular things to look out for when you’re planning your trip and seeking out sustainable ski resorts.

The ‘Flocon Vert’ (Green Snowflake) Label

The ‘Flocon Vert’ or ‘Green Snowflake’ is a label that is earned by resorts which are embracing sustainable skiing.

The label is a product of the Mountain Riders association, which has actually been active since 2006. The association’s primary purpose is to use interactions with resorts and tourist centres to produce a regularly updated guide for tourists – laying out eco-friendly practices that are underway, as well as areas that still need improvement. In 2011, however, the association decided to take things a step further with the creation of the Green Snowflake.

The label is obtained only by resorts that are deemed by an independent body to have sufficiently adhered to 21 criteria relating to sustainable practices. The criteria relate to everything from support of local economies, to all-season strategies, to efficient energy and waste practices.

Currently, the label applies to several resorts OVO Network operates in – including Châtel, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, and Megève.

Chamonix earned the Flocon Vert status in 2013.

The Use Of Renewable Energy Sources

Even within resorts practising eco-friendly initiatives, it remains the case that tourism involves a great deal of consumption. Indeed, Motiva has stated that the energy consumption of a single person’s ski day is about 20 kilowatt-hours, which equals that of a full spa day – or two weeks’ consumption by a refrigerator-freezer.

To combat this high consumption, responsible resorts throughout the Alps have committed to making more use of the region’s renewable energy sources. For the most part in the region more broadly, this means looking into options like hydropower, biomass, and photovoltaic energy (or solar radiation), which have been among the area’s primary renewable options in the past decade.

Specifically, however, we have seen a number of resorts in the French Alps seek to cut emissions by tapping into renewable resources:

The Portes du Soleil…


Avoriaz has begun to make use of a dual-energy wood and electricity heating plant in order to provide power to its assorted holiday properties. Much of the benefit of this solution has to do with storage. Wood fuel reserves can power the resort for 10 full days without the use of external energy, and the storage of hot water within the heating plant reduces the need to divert additional energy in order to keep water hot for guests.

Les Gets

Les Gets has also prioritised the sustainability of its lifts, but has done so by installing solar panels onto them directly. The resort also captures and makes use of the energy that is generated by the lifts in the course of their use. These initiatives, in addition to the use of biomass power and naturally degrading fuel for groomers, make this another excellent option for those seeking sustainable skiing options.

Book a property in the Portes du Soleil


Grand Massif

Arguably the best-known resort area in the French Alps from a sustainability perspective, Grand Massif is 100% renewable and has been for several years now. The numerous properties within this resort area make use of solar power, wind energy, and hydropower in order to sustain themselves.

La Plagne

In a certain sense, La Plagne has a built-in advantage in attracting eco-conscious travellers. This is because it is among the easiest French Alps destinations to reach by high-speed, electric rail (as opposed to less responsible forms of transportation). Additionally, some of the properties in La Plagne have become well known for providing 100% renewable energy to power lifts. Using the same renewable methods that power Grand Massif, the resort ensures that its lifts do not contribute to its footprint.

The Rise Of Bio Shops & Sustainable Produce

Another important note with regard to the sustainability of ski resorts throughout the area is that there has been a notable rise of bio shops and sustainable produce markets.

In the past, it has been common for people preparing for ski vacations to make long lists of groceries and stock up at supermarkets. This has typically been done as a form of convenience – a way to ensure that additional trips to the store (sometimes in heavy snow, or with a long drive into town) won’t be necessary. However, it’s also a strategy that does little to support local economies or sustainable produce.

This is why it is significant that eco-friendly resorts like the ones mentioned above have also seen a rise in alternative shopping options. Bio shops and pop-up markets are placed close to lodging, and make both local and sustainable products more readily available to travellers. This reduces commercial consumption, supports local economies, and even reduces unnecessary travel to and from supermarkets.

Markets like this one in Annecy bring the local suppliers together in one place, where the community can sample fresh produce and support small businesses.

How Can You Be A More Sustainable Traveller?

We’ve covered why so many are drawn to sustainable travel, as well as what to look for and where to find it in the French Alps. But how can you personally be a sustainable traveller?

It starts with what you’re doing right now: researching eco-friendly options and planning a trip to a destination that supports environmentally beneficial goals. And from there, it’s all about taking steps and doing the “little things” that will reduce your own carbon footprint.

These include (but are not limited to) strategies like driving or taking an electric railway where you can, as opposed to flying; buying local produce and goods at your destination; and minding your waste and consumption while at your destination.

Sustainable ski wear is also something that certain clothing brands are placing more importance on. Brands such as Picture, Patgonia, Mon’s Royale and Planks are all making efforts to produce quality ski wear from sustainable materials.

Montagne Verte

Local, community-funded initiatives such as Montagne Verte, are working hard to create a greener future for mountain residents and reduce the environmental impact of Morzine ski resort and the surrounding area.

From community projects, fundraising events and business support, Montagne Verte’s commitments have already seen vast improvements in the local area. Read more about what they’ve achieved by clicking here.


Eco-tourism is becoming more popular and more appealing to travellers from all over the world. It gives you the opportunity to support sustainable communities and destinations – and in the process mingle with like-minded communities and feel a sense of pride and satisfaction.

Enjoying this kind of trip requires only that you do your research as to which responsible destinations you can visit and how you can do your part within their sustainable efforts.

In the French Alps, this means visiting any of a number of destinations that are practising real, impactful sustainability strategies, and contributing to those strategies by taking an environmentally friendly approach to travel.

Exclusively written by Erin Gray for

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