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Les Menuires Going Greener

It’s the only ski resort in France to have partnered with Protect Our Winters. The charity is helping Les Menuires be more green.

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The high altitude resort has decided to work closely with the French branch of Protect Our Winters to find the best ways of making a difference.

It is pushing forward with a series of measures to reduce damage to the environment and cut its carbon emissions.

A team from POW France has been in Les Menuires  this December.

We spoke to them and also to the man responsible for environmental issues in the resort.

Protect our Winters France in Les Menuires December 2019

Protect Our Winters France in Les Menuires

The POW France Director of Operations, Antoine Pin, told us the partnership began a year ago.

The charity is providing expert assistance and advice.

“It might not be easy for people to change if we don’t give them the help to do it,” he said.

“If we don’t give them different ways of approaching a problem they are not going to be able to solve it.”

One of POW’s major projects is a study looking at how traffic coming into Les Menuires and the whole Belleville valley can be reduced.

Eventually, the ambitious aim is to make the valley car-free.

The study is being carried out by researchers at the University of Savoie Mont Blanc and is due to be completed in February.

Earlier research, carried out in 2007, blamed the way skiers and snowboarders travel to their resorts – by car and plane – for anything between 40% and 70% of a resort’s carbon emissions.

“If people can come without their cars, it will have a big impact,” Antoine says.

Antoine Pin, Director of Operations, POW France

Antoine Pin

POW France also has a second academic study on the go into snowmaking: when, how and why is it being used?

POW wants less use of artificial snow.

It might sound strange for an organisation called Protect Our Winters to be promoting shorter ski seasons and, consequently fewer days of skiing and snowboarding , but from an environmental point of view, it makes sense.

“Maybe what you have to offer doesn’t have to be solely based on winter,” Antoine says.

“Maybe you can lose a bit of money in the winter and make more money in the summer.  Be a mountain resort not just a ski resort.  Les Menuires is trying to do more in the summer.”

Mountain biking in Les Menuires

Summer in Les Menuires

Antoine says the higher the resort, the less prepared they are.

“But climate change is also happening at 3,000 metres,” he says.

“If we can make places like Les Menuires better we can do it anywhere.”

Stéphane Berthaud is the Safety & Environment Manager of Les Menuires’ lift company, SEVABEL.

He tells us they chose to join forces with Protect Our Winters because climate change is a difficult topic for the resort.

Stéphane Berthaud, responsible for environment, Les Menuires

Stéphane Berthaud

“We are a bit afraid to speak about this subject because we are not perfect,” he says.

“We wanted some help to do something positive. If we want to fight against global warming we have to put less CO2 in the air.”

He outlines some of the initiatives under way:

  • Since 2010 all Les Menuires’ electricity has come from sustainable hydro-electric sources in the Tarentaise Valley.
  • Grants are being offered by the lift company and the Mayor for chalet and apartment owners to renovate buildings and make them more energy efficient.
  • This year the resort has begun using new solar and satellite technology  in 7 of its 15 piste grooming machines (explain?) They hope this will reduce fuel consumption by 10 to 20%.
  • They’ve begun restoring a bog near Les Menuires to increase capacity.  The bog is a natural ‘carbon sink’ which absorbs and holds CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • In the future, they are looking at using waste water to heat the main buildings in the centre of Les Menuires, La Croisette

There’s a long way to go in Les Menuires as there is in many ski resorts.

But it’s good to see they’re trying.

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