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My eco-conscious snowboarding odyssey within the French Alps | France holidays



‘You ought to be very proud,” stated Chemmy Alcott, as my face smacked into thick snow for the third time and my goggles started to steam up with the exertion of regularly righting myself. “You’re one of many first 100 individuals to come back by way of right here this season. You’re flattening the path, making it simpler for everybody else.”

France tignes map

Alcott, a one-time Olympic downhill ninja and now the bubbling co-host of the BBC’s Ski Sunday, had swung us into the Hidden Valley, considered one of her secret showstoppers within the Tignes space, after delivering a warning. “That is off-piste,” she stated, all of a sudden severe. “So that you do that at your personal threat.”

As we jittered on to the snaking path, which was in regards to the width of a tea tray, we rapidly realised this wasn’t a valley in any respect: extra of a good, twisting gorge, flanked by sheer-sided boulders and dotted with hair-raising drops that even Alcott couldn’t descend with out taking off her skis.

Grande Motte at greater than 3,000 metres shaped a part of the 4 Corners Problem {Photograph}: Barbara West/Alamy

“What a mellow morning,” she stated breezily, as the daylight cascaded by way of the pines throughout us. That wouldn’t have been my phrase for it, particularly when the monitor veered into a pleasant snow-dusted forest. I caught an edge and ended up cartwheeling down the mountain, virtually taking out some hikers snowshoeing up by way of the drifts. “These runs we did to get right here,” stated Alcott after I lastly caught again up, “they’re beautiful and so they’re enjoyable – however they’re not memorable. That is memorable.”

It was a spectacular introduction to the numerous delights of Tignes – and it was simply the warm-up. Forward lay the 4 Corners Problem: an up-at-dawn, skip-the-long-lunch dash across the extremities of Espace Killy, because the linked space of Tignes and Val d’Isère known as. This odyssey reaches its giddying climax atop the wind-blasted Grande Motte glacier, some 3,456 metres up.

As I lay sweating within the resort sauna that night, I may really feel the affect of the slopes on each little bit of my physique. However these days, after all, you even have to consider your personal affect on the slopes. International heating is already having a devastating impact on the Alps, with the dearth of snowfall leaving resorts, particularly decrease ones, struggling to remain open for the entire season. One, La Sambuy, has completely closed its slopes.

For as soon as, although, I used to be capable of take pleasure in these breathtaking mountains with out the gnawing guilt usually related to reaching them. I’d come by rail, departing from London St Pancras at 9am on a Saturday – aboard the inaugural journey of Eurostar’s resurrected Snow Practice, a service axed in 2020 when Covid struck.

Clubbing at Folie Douce

After one speedy change at Lille, the place we didn’t even have to change platforms, our roomy TGV eased into Bourg St Maurice after dusk, having sped previous some ravishing sunsets over gleaming lakes. The practice definitely appeared fashionable with Brits: our hurtling juggernaut ran out of tea in a single hour flat. From Bourg, within the coronary heart of the French Alps, it was simply 40 minutes by minibus to Tignes.


Whereas transport will make up the lion’s share of any snow vacation’s carbon footprint, lodges play a component too. We stayed at Rosset, a chalet-style resort boasting a graceful top-floor bar with mountain views, plush sofas, a crackling, cheek-sizzling log hearth, and a seemingly infinite provide of post-piste cake and pre-dinner canapés and poo.

A five-minute stroll from the Tignes lifts, Rosset has applied waste, water and even clingfilm discount strategies, together with refillable toiletry dispensers and the requirement that visitors decide dinner upfront, reducing down on meals waste. This allowed me to select from miso aubergine, roasted sea bass or steamed mussels, whereas biting into goat’s cheese on sourdough toast at breakfast.


Water is from the faucet (bottled could be equipped) and the general ethos is much less meat, extra veg, and a push to supply regionally – proper right down to the artworks on the partitions. The hefty black-and-white photographs depict brooding and infrequently cloud-shrouded mountains, all equipped by an area images collective referred to as Artwork’com and a far cry from the standard bland blue skies over ethereal peaks.

Espace Killy is the linked space of Tignes and Val d’Isère. {Photograph}: Dennis Wegewijs/Alamy

The 4 Corners required an early morning journey on the Scare Chair, the nickname given to the Leissières hyperlink to the Pisaillas glacier, an oasis of fabulous and usually less-busy runs. Broadly considered the world’s most horrifying raise, the Scare Chair is a stomach-churning, high-speed journey as much as a gnarled mountain ridge, adopted by a lurching plummet down its different facet.

It didn’t disappoint, offering a wonderful gateway to every little thing that’s nice about Tignes, one of many highest resorts in Europe. You possibly can knock about all day on its extensive, weaving, twisting, banking, bread-and-butter runs, bouncing out and in of powder fields off-piste. However must you even have a craving to go excessive, far and quick, Tignes takes some beating – as we found on each thrilling inch of the 4 Corners, not least that lengthy, ultimate, dizzying descent from Grande Motte, reached by a funicular that shoots up a tunnel like a bullet by way of the black.


No marvel the après in Tignes and Val d’Isère tends to imply dancing on tables: the adrenalin simply retains coming. “I used to be voted the very best dancer in Folkestone!” stated the girl sharing a tabletop with me on the Folie Douce, or Sheer Insanity, a legendary open-air celebration palace that blasts out bangers within the peaks above Val d’Isère, simply because the solar begins to set. Chemmy Alcott, a Folie Douce superfan, had by now left us, however I may think about her saying: “Different bars are beautiful and enjoyable – however they’re not memorable.” The Folie Douce, with its resident dancers in spangled outfits sharing stage area with a swirling gentle present, is definitely memorable.

Lodge Rosset

There was loads of cool package on present (in addition to two guys in Teletubby costumes). However I used to be happy to note, amongst all of the flashy massive manufacturers, the occasional piece of Re-Motion gear. Re-Motion is a world collective with a department in close by Courchevel. There, 5 employees recycle the uniforms of, say, raise operators, ski instructors and chalet employees, repairing and patching pricey clothes which can be usually tossed into landfill after just some seasons.

“I used to personal two boot-fitting retailers,” Re-Motion’s founder Gavin Fernie-Jones instructed me, over beer on the Loop bar in Tignes. “However I obtained bored with seeing the consumption and waste within the trade. Individuals will even purchase package and simply eliminate it on the finish of their vacation. However we will take a €400 jacket, patch it up, put it on sale for €120 – and it’ll be gone in seconds.”

Andrew Gilchrist within the Hidden Valley. {Photograph}: Andrew Gilchrist

Fernie-Jones, who’s 43 and initially from the Peak District, was sporting a “50/50”, a Re-Motion speciality through which two jacket halves are spliced collectively, on this case one gray and one teal. It appeared implausible. “We wish our stuff to be identifiable,” he stated. “We’ve obtained our personal look. The patches aren’t meant to mix in. They have a good time the work.”

By way of eco-thinking, he added, Tignes is among the higher resorts, boasting Flocon Vert, or Inexperienced Snowflake, standing. “Think about mountains with out bins,” says a standard signal on its lifts. “Take your garbage residence with you.” So I did: largely napkins, tin cans and used teabags, which I zipped into my bag as I left my resort room, glancing one final time on the framed message on the desk. “Assist us go greener,” it stated, “so our mountains don’t.”

Journey offered by Inghams Ski, which gives seven nights half-board at Lodge Rosset, Tignes, departing from London St Pancras, from £1,438 per particular person, primarily based on two adults sharing. All trains and transfers included

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