15 sustainable mountain resorts with outstanding actions

Published on February 7, 2017 – Author : Coline Mionnet

15 sustainable mountain resorts with outstanding actions

Today, many French mountain resorts stand out for their commitment to sustainable development. Labeled Green Flocon, green resorts, Green Globe or winners of the 2016 Cimes Sustainable Trophies, more and more of them involve to propose a preserved natural environment and a more responsible tourism.

1) Châtel, Haute-Savoie

After being certified ‘Station Verte’ (green resort), Châtel was awarded the label Flocon Vert by Mountain Riders non-profit organisation. This label is composed of 31 criterias divided into 7 categories: transport, energy, water (fresh and waste), development, waste, economy, social. Among the actions undertaken, the Châtel cableway company obtained ISO 14001 certification, which introduces a strategy to improve its environmental and energy management.

Chatel Haute Savoie Geoparc Chablais

As far as mobility is concerned, a new gondola connection allows skiers to ski through the ski area without having to take a bus or a car to get from one end of the resort to the other.
The commune of Châtel is part of the Géopark du Chablais, recognized by UNESCO in 2012 for its glaciers and aquifer heritage. In this context, it has put in place an educational program for environment and ecological issues with the schools of the commune.
This program aims in promoting waste sorting, composting canteen remains, setting up a pedagogical garden, and also involving specialists on the sustainable development themes. A communal apiary was installed in 2015, and part of the honey harvest is distributed to the scholars.

2) Les Rousses, Jura

Les Rousses resort, located in the Haut-Jura Nature Park, is made up of 4 communes: Bois d’Amont, Lamoura, Les Rousses and Prémanon.

Les Rousses, Haut Jura

In order to become more autonomous, this terrirory has invested in renewable energies. A wood-fired heat plant was installed to supply the communal buildings and solar panels bring more comfort in the public dry toilets. Certified ISO 14001 since 2011, it is already a decade that the station of Les Rousses decided to commit in the environmental questions. These various actions allowed it to be the first, in April 2013, to obtain the Flocon Vert label.

3) Chamonix, Haute-Savoie

The Community of Communes of the Valley of Chamonix Mont-Blanc brings together 4 municipalities: Vallorcine, Chamonix, Les Houches and Servoz. It was awarded ‘Flocon Vert’ label in October 2013 thanks to the sustainable development policies implemented in the intermunicipal territory.
Since 2009, the community of municipalities has voluntarily applied a Territorial Energy Climate Plan, whose dual target is reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adaptating to climate change. It is the first mountain territory to set up and implement a Climate Energy Plan.

In this framework, a 184 actions plan has been put in place in coordination with all the players in the territory. These actions are divided into five topics: Transport and Travel, Urban Planning and Habitat, Consumption and Waste, Tourism and Awareness, Biodiversity and Natural Areas.

4) La Pierre Saint-Martin, Pyrénées-Atlantiques

La Pierre Saint-Martin is the first Pyrenean ski resort to obtain the Flocon vert label, which was launched in 2012. It is also the second French mountain resort to obtain ISO 50 001 certification, the aim of which is to improve Energy efficiency, and therefore the reduction of the energy bill. The goal is to implement a collective project to effectively reduce energy consumption at the commune level. For the station, this ISO 50 001 certification consists, for example, in measuring the savings achieved in terms of public lighting and heating or track grooming. La Pierre Saint-Martin also stands out for its strategy of sustainable development, especially social, on the handisport. It is one of the few resorts in France to propose to everyone the discovery of the Tandem Ski with a pilot certified by the Handisport French Federation.

5) Arêches-Beaufort, Savoie

Arêches-Beaufort was the first municipality to subscribe to the Mountain Resorts Sustainable Development Charter. The ski lift company of Arêches-Beaufort is involved in an environmental approach integrating all its services (ski lifts, grooming, tracks, cash registers, administrative, cultural snow …) While it is already sourcing its energies 100% renewable, the station does not intend to stop in such good way. In regard to artificial snowmaking, another partnership has been set up with EDF to use water from the Roselend dam, which is being fed by gravity, instead of drawing water from the rivers or building a hill reservoir.
And that’s not all; the municipality of Arêches-Beaufort relies on sustainable mobility with the promotion of public transport. By taking the train to Albertville, the shuttle to the resort, 25km away, is free for the purchase of a one day ski pass.
Carpooling is not to be outdone with the introduction of a ‘Ski Drive’ system which allows motorists to take their package quickly without leaving their car and to benefit from a decreasing rate according to the number of passengers. These public transport policies aim to improve the fluidity on the roads of the resorts but above all to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the main cause of which is the circulation of vehicles in the mountains.

6) Val d’Isère, Savoie

Val d’Isère’s Téléphériques Company, the STVI, was the first ski lift company in France to obtain ISO 50001 certification. Concretement, this certification will push the company to seek continuous improvement of its energy performances.

In addition, Val d’Isère and Tignes are the first major ski areas to be certified ‘Green Globe’, an international certification program that rewards efforts made by tourism professionals in the social, economic, cultural and environmental fields, thus integrating the three pillars of sustainable development. Green Globe certification is globally recognized because it is based on the Global Criteria for Sustainable Tourism, Agenda 21 approach and sustainable development international principles endorsed at the 1992 Earth Summit.
Both resorts being located in the heart of, or close to protected natural areas, including the Vanoise National Park, the Baillettaz Nature Reserve and several Natura 2000 areas, the shift towards sustainable tourism is gradually taking shape.

7) Les Orres, Hautes-Alpes

The Orres commune is one of the 6 winning stations selected by the ANMSM, Mountain Stations Mayors National Association, for the award of the Sustainable Cities Trophies, organized for the first time in December 2016.
Indeed, Les Orres resort is committed in an innovative approach to energy management throughout the municipal territory, called smartgrid. This smartgrid locally manages the production of renewable energy, energy storage and energy savings. The first step of the project made it possible to integrate the administrative buildings and the skating rink into the energy management program and the second step will consists in connecting five from the 30 ski lift cabins.

8) Les Arcs Paradiski, Savoie

The commune of Bourg Saint-Maurice – Les Arcs is also one of the winners of the Trophées des Cimes Durables. In particular, it was rewarded for its Cap Energie program, which aims to reduce, by 2021, the municipality’s energy consumption for the heating of its housing stock, which costs around € 700,000 per year.

Initiated in 2014, the Cap Energie operation was realized in 2016 by signing an Energy Performance Contract which came into force in March 2016, which will reduce the consumption of 18 communal buildings (town hall, gymnasiums, school groups) to meet the objectives of COP21. In the long term, the reduction in energy expenditure is expected to reach 36% and the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions 47%.

9) Les Gets, Haute-Savoie

Les Gets municipality was awarded a Trophée des Cimes Durables because it was the first mountain resort in Europe to offer self-service electric bicycle rental with the Getslib’ system. Several byke-stations equipped with charging plugs and an automatic system of delivery and deposit have been installed in the village.
The municipality has also subscribed to the Charter of the Sustainable Development of Mountain Stations, consisting of 130 commitments around 7 Sustainable Town Planning, Environmentally Friendly Spaces, Preserved Natural Areas, Balanced Resource Management, Optimized Transportation, Responsible Tourism and Environmental Awareness.

Like Châtel, Les Gets is part of the Chablais Geopark protected by UNESCO. Since July 2016, the commune of Les Gets has become the first mountain station of Chablais engaged in the ‘Zero pesticide’ approach by signing the Regional Charter of Space Maintenance
On the other hand, the Société des Remontées Mécaniques, SaGets, was certified ISO 14001 in 2008 to evolve towards a more responsible management of its energy consumption.
Autonomous in fresh water, equipped with a communal wood-fired heat boiler since 2000, the resort offers shuttles free of charge and intercommunal links to € 1. Les Gets is also involved in the pedestrian development of the village center and seems to believe in the sustainable development of its territory.

10) Avoriaz, Haute-Savoie

Avoriaz is one of the scarce 100% pedestrian mountain resorts in France. To get there you have to leave the car or the bus in the car park and take the 3S, the tricable cable car that takes you to the heart of the resort village. Sledges are available to carry your luggage to the hotel in winter, and one can access hotels and restaurants skis at the feets.
The municipality was awarded the World Snow Awards in 2013 for its various actions carried out in Sustainable development such as:
• the opening of a certified Low Energy Building residence,
• the construction of a bi-energy (wood / electricity) boilerhouse to heat and supply hot water to 11 residences and to the Aquariaz aqualudic center,
• the launching of waste sorting and treatment actions,
• the ecological management of water reserves and the optimization of snow production,
• measures for biodiversity protection.

11) Saint-Gervais, Haute-Savoie

Prior to obtaining ISO 14001 certification in 2012, the Remontées Mécaniques de Saint-Gervais company was required to carry out targeted actions to reduce the environmental footprint of its activity, including:
• the snow production rationalization,
• staff and customers awareness and involvement actions,
• sorting of all waste and recycling part of,
• encouraging visitors and locals to use the shuttles.

Moreover, the municipality of Saint-Gervais has been involved since 2004 in an environmental approach ‘La Montagne à l’Etat Pur’, whose target is to promote sustainable mobility. In this context, it proposes the reservation of a car-pool or a bus ride, which is attractive and social, via the Montenbus. network.


This service serves all municipalities in the Community of Mont-Blanc Country Towns and villages (Combloux, Les Contamines Montjoie, Cordon, Demi-Quartier, Domancy, Megève, Praz-sur-Arly, Passy, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains and Sallanches), and is complementary to the existing offer in bus and train lines. Last month, the commune of Saint-Gervais was also awarded a Trophée des Cimes for the Col du Mont Lachat rehabilitation operation it led, an old site of the 1930s abandoned since 1960. This sensitive natural site was cleared, deconstructed and remodeled between May and October 2015 in order to rehabilitate it.

12) Chamrousse, Isère

The Chamrousse Mountain Park project 2030, initially entitled “Ville grandeur nature”, “an urban renewal project for the Chamrousse resort” is one of the 16 winners selected in 2016 following the call for projects launched by French government, called ‘Industrial Demonstrators for the Sustainable city ‘.
This project is for Chamrousse to become the first smartstation coupled with a metropolis, Grenoble, located 30 km away in the vallley, notably by creating a fast cable transport link. The mountain resort is committed to becoming a 4 seasons and sustainable tourism destination, by developing renewable energy sources like solar and biomass. The project is long-term by planning the development of the station until 2030, expecting operational results before 2020. Meanwhile, the station has been supplying renewable energy for several years.

Chamrousse projet AKTIS architectes РTous droits r̩serv̩s.

The resort of Chamrousse also plans to restructure its village center, 1650 meters (5400 ft) high, Le Recoin, with the architectural firm Aktis, winner of the town planning competition launched by the municipality in 2015. In the framework of innovative renewal, Chamrousse will benefit from an accompaniment of the government for 5 years and will be able to benefit of the ‘Programme d’Investissements d’Avenir (Future Investments Program).

13) Autrans-Méaudre, Isère

Another winner of the Trophées des Cimes, Autrans-Méaudre was rewarded for its project whose target is to redevelop a natural site locally called ‘La Marre du Trou de la Poste’, literally “the Post Hole Pong’.
It is an environmental education program aimed to highlighting and protecting a natural area and its biodiversity while sensitizing the youngest through the creation of a pedagogical path.
In December 2016, Autrans-Méaudre inaugurated the first sledge 4 Saisons of the department of Isère, thus offering an activity with low environmental impact and accessible all year long at any age. Every year, the village-resort also hosts various events such as the International Festival of Mountain Movies or the “Foulée Blanche” (canceled in 2016), ideal to raise awareness among mountain users and encourage them in better respecting it.

14) La Giettaz, Savoie

The commune of La Giettaz has 4 labels Station Verte (Green Resort), Village of Snow, Town and Country of Art and History and Route of the Great Alps (riding tourism). The territory of the resort is also covered by the E-rando portal application, which can be downloaded on mobile and permits real-time orientation on the hiking trails.
La Giettaz is part of the Com’Arly, a community of munuicipalities in the Val d ‘ Arly, itself member of the intercommunal syndicate Arlysère. Since 2015, Arlysère is part of the territories winners of the call for projects ‘Territories with Positive Energy for Green Growth’ launched by the Ministry of Environment, Sustainable Development and Energy. With the support of ADEME*, goals of the intercommunality aim, by 2050, to halve the energy consumption on the territory (industries, transport …) and to develop the production of renewable energies.
* ADEME is a French government agency in charge of setting up policies for environment, energy and sustainable development.

15) Thollon-les-Mémises, Haute-Savoie

Thollon-les-Mémises is a small family mountain resort located above Evian-les-Bains, with a breathtaking view on Lake Geneva and the Alps.
Labelled ‘Green Resort’ and ‘Village de Neige’, it is very frequented by locals due to its proximity to the lake and its population pool, hence its desire to remain intact and authentic.

Thollon Les Memises

The gondola station of the resort runs almost all the year as it is accessible on Wednesdays and weekends in May, June and September, as well as every day in July, August, December (opening according to snowfall), January, February, March and April (closing according to snowfall). There are only two months in the year when access to the gondola is closed, a fine example of the 4 seasons mountains tourism development.

Sources & links

Stations Vertes(Green Resorts)

TEPOS Arlysère

Presse N’Py

La République des Pyrénées, press release

Label Flocon Vert

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