Morzine: one of the world’s most eco ski resorts where eagles fly

Race an eagle down a mountain.  Why?  (Image: AlexSava/iStockphoto/extravagantni/Reuben Shaul/Christian Pfahl)

Are you going to race an eagle down the mountain? Why? (Image: AlexSava/iStockphoto/extravagantni/Reuben Shaul/Christian Pfahl)

There’s a white-tailed eagle perched on the edge of my chairlift. I’ve shared mountain climbing with quite a variety of offbeat characters over the years, but a bird of prey is a first. I’m in Morzine, a ski resort in France that recently received the Flocon Vert award for sustainable mountain tourism. This stunned eagle is one of the reasons.

Sitting between me and the eagle is Jacques-Olivier Travers, a charismatic (and just as French) environmentalist as his name suggests. “This is Fletcher,” he says. ‘I took him when he was four and taught him to fly in the mountains. He was born in captivity in Germany but is now an ambassador for our program. After a break of 130 years, we will reintroduce this eagle species to nature in France this year.’

We get off the Raverettes cable car and Travers whispers to the eagle in French, encouraging him to fly on the track that lies ahead of us, occasionally looking back to check that we are following.

Not long after, we returned to the restaurant Les Aigles du Léman, where we started. Situated on the mountain at 1,500m, this is a busy hub for hungry skiers. Once a day, around noon, a lucky skier in the restaurant might race a hawk on the Raverettes slope back to the restaurant. If the skier can beat the bird, he gets a free falconry experience.

“Often the hawk wins,” Travers says, “but sometimes he gets distracted. The race shows people how fast these birds are.’ You can also book a snowshoe hike with a bird of prey or a ride on the slopes, as we just did, all of which help with the re-entry program.

“The idea is not just to see eagles, but to breed and reintroduce them,” says Sara Burdon, who works at the Morzine tourism office, as she guides us through the wide sun-soaked pistes to the resort of Les Gets. “Many are purely for fun and entertainment, but are largely linked to conservation efforts.”

The ski resort Morzine in France, which received the prestigious 'Flocon Vert' award for sustainable mountain tourism.

Morzine receives the prestigious ‘Flocon Vert’ award, a sustainable mountain tourism award (Image: Christian Pfahl)

Ferme à Jules is a converted farmhouse built in 1808.  Today it is run by AliKats, a carbon-neutral luxury resort operator.  They provide breakfast and dinner each night, and the food waste from the meals is composted, mulched and then used locally to grow more food and then served back to guests.

Ferme à Jules is a converted farmhouse originally built in 1808 (Image: Provided)

Fun and environment seem to go hand in hand in Morzine – a spot I contemplate while sitting in the hot tub outside my chalet, working on renewable energy, and sipping a locally brewed beer.

I stay at Ferme à Jules, a beautiful converted farmhouse built in 1808. The venue is run by AliKats, a carbon-neutral luxury resort operator. It provides breakfast and dinner each night, and the food waste from the meals is composted, mulched and then used locally to grow more food and then served back to guests.

“We are particularly sensitive to climate change in the Alps,” says Al, half of AliKats. “That’s why it’s so important to make sure we’re operating in a sustainable way.” They take guests to the elevators by electric vehicle and even offer a discount on your elevator card if you traveled by train.

When we arrive in Morzine there has been no new snowfall for a while but still plenty of snow and clear blue skies. The region is famous for this. It is part of the enormous Portes du Soleil (‘Gates of the Sun’) ski area, which, along with 11 other resorts, offers 650 km/400 miles of pistes.

Morzine is a rare ski resort that also thrives in the summer, thanks to its excellent cycling and hiking trails. This means there is a strong community throughout the year, which is crucial in developing local green infrastructure. A particularly pleasant example is the town center of Morzine, which was recently closed to traffic.

Five more sustainable ski resorts

Geilo, Norway

ski slopes, skier, ski resort Geilolia, Geilo, winter, Buskerud, Norway

Low CO2 (Image: Alamy)

Geilo resort has the title of Sustainable Travel Destination since 2016. It is hydroelectric and accessible by one of Europe’s lowest CO2 emitting railway lines.

Jackson Hole, USA

Hotel Terra ( in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA was built entirely using recycled materials;

Based on recycling (Image: Included)

Many resort buildings have been upgraded with energy-efficient heating systems. Hotel Terra was built using recycled materials.

Zermatt, Switzerland

A battery-powered electric mail delivery van on Bahnhofstrasse

The ‘car-free’ city center of Zermatt. (Image: Martin Bond/Alamy Stock Photo)

This village of Valais has been at the forefront of ecological advances since the 1970s, when it voted to ban cars. In 2019 he reinvented a way using recycled plastic.

Les Arcs, France

France's Skiers Return to the Slopes as the Season Begins

Renewable energy since 2011 (Image: Richard Bord/Getty Images)

Les Arcs has been running its chairlifts on renewable energy since 2011. It provides electric vehicles to staff and uses photovoltaic panels to convert solar energy.

SkiWelt, Austria

Skiing During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Solar powered elevators (Image: Simon Hausberger/Getty Images)

One of Austria’s largest connected ski areas opened the world’s first solar-powered cable car, the Sonnenlift, in 2008 and uses renewable energy to heat the facilities.

‘Now you have this beautiful space where families can sit without cars going around,’ says Burdon. ‘And a lot of other things were already happening. The idea of ​​using local products is in their blood here. They wouldn’t do anything else.’

On our last day before takeoff, a belated drop of dust arrives and we wake up to the sight of millions of snowflakes falling on our chalet and the valley beyond. The views aren’t particularly good, so it’s not a day for skiing – though, a delicious powder day awaits those who’ll be back on the mountain tomorrow.

For me? Well, he’ll just have to make it one last day in the jacuzzi and sauna.

get there

Flights from London to Geneva start at £26.99 one way, transfers via Skiidy Gonzales.

A week at Ferme à Jules starts from £797 per person (based on two shares), including breakfast and most meals, and bus services to/from Morzine lifts/centre between 08:00 and 22:00,

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