Climate change and the impact of our actions on the environment are huge topics at this moment in time and we all have a role to play in helping to avoid deterioration in the world around us.
The first step to positive change is to be aware of our choices and the effect they may have on our ecosystems.
With winter rapidly approaching, it’s time to reflect on how we can make better choices for a more sustainable winter holiday, one that is kinder to the planet, won’t damage the environment and that also involves a greater contribution to local communities.
Choose a sustainable travel option
When considering how to have a more sustainable winter holiday, your travel choice is the biggest factor in reducing your environmental impact.
We all know that planes emit huge quantities of carbon dioxide, so what are the other more sustainable options for travelling to your winter holiday?
The mountains of the Pyrenees can easily be reached by train via Toulouse which is the main hub that serves the chain.
Travelling by train to a winter holiday in the Pyrenees is even more attractive following the news that a new night train service from Paris to Toulouse is starting on the 10th December 2022.
If you’re travelling from the UK, why not get Eurostar into Paris, hop on the night train to Toulouse and then pick up a car at the station. for the 1h30 easy drive to the mountains. You can be in your mountain resort before lunch!
Many car hire companies now offer hybrid or electric cars which will further help to reduce your carbon footprint.
But if you absolutely must fly then try and book with an airline that at the very least has a carbon offsetting programme.
Many airlines have targets to become carbon neutral so do your research before you book that flight!
Sustainable winter activities for non-skiers
The Pyrenees mountains offer numerous low impact, more sustainable winter activities that provide a great alternative to skiing. In fact, we wrote a whole blog post on this very subject!
The most environmentally friendly activities are those that don’t rely on any form of mechanisation.
Snowshoeing and back-country skiing (otherwise known as ski touring) are the obvious contenders although XC skiing is also another option.
We’re huge fans of these winter sports as they allow you to explore the most incredible winter landscapes whilst having no environmental impact other than the tracks that you leave in the snow.
They also have a positive effect on your health and wellbeing thanks to the physical effort involved and the pure mountain air that you breath deep into your lungs.
Exploring the pristine winter landscapes of the Pyrenees back-country under your own steam is immensely rewarding on so many levels.
Discover the local wildlife on a sustainable winter holiday
Local wildlife tend, not surprisingly, to give busy, noisy ski resorts a wide berth.
We recommend you head out to explore off the beaten path with an expert local guide where you may discover the tracks of a whole range of interesting creatures.
Children love learning how to identify tracks made by red and roe deer, foxes, martens and maybe, just maybe those of the brown bear too!
Look to the skies and you may see fabulous birds of prey such as griffon vultures, kites, possibly eagles and also the rarest vulture in Europe, the bearded vulture which is breeding in the central Pyrenees!
Learning about and understanding the precious local environment and ecosystems of the unspoiled Pyrenees is a hugely rewarding experience and an important element of any sustainable winter holiday.
Contribute to local communities
Most ski resorts bring in staff and instructors from outside the local community during the winter season.
So for a more sustainable winter holiday choose snow-based activities for which you’ll use the expert services of local guides and instructors.
The huge benefit to using local professionals is that they have a detailed and intimate knowledge of the local landscapes and weather patterns.
Their years of experience is what will keep you safe as you explore the mountains on snowshoes or off piste on skis.
They know just where to go for the deepest and most meaningful experiences and where to see the most interesting wildlife too.
Experience local gastronomy
The Pyrenees are an absolute paradise for food lovers with passionate local producers offering you everything from ewe’s milk cheeses to speciality cakes to regional dishes.
We’ve done the research to pin down the best restaurants at which you’ll sample exceptional local gastronomy and local dishes created with pure passion.
We’ve also sniffed out some fabulous traditional chocolate makers as well as places where you can see the Pyrenean ‘tree cake’ being made over an open fire.
Children will love visiting a local farm to see the goats and sheep being milked and will have a great time tasting cheeses that are made from that fresh milk!
Experiencing such local gastronomic delights is an important element of any sustainable winter holiday in the Pyrenees mountains.
Your accommodation choice matters
Many ski packages include accommodation in faceless, corporate owned hotels where you are just a number, feeding the pockets of corporate entities.
Instead, why not enjoy an altogether more meaningful experience and support local communities at the same time by staying in a warm and welcoming B&B on a winter holiday in the Pyrenees.
Many B&B owners in the Pyrenees offer delicious home-cooked evening meals too which feature yummy local produce such as cheeses and charcuterie, regional specialities and even homemade patisserie at some, too!
A stay in a traditional guest house is a deeply fulfilling experience that is at the heart of a sustainable winter holiday in the Pyrenees.
If you absolutely must ski…
… then have a more sustainable winter holiday by choosing a resort that cares about the environment and has put measures in place to minimise their environmental impact.
We’re fortunate to be able to offer skiing at the excellent Peyragudes resort in the central Pyrenees where they care deeply about such issues.
Why is a winter holiday at this Pyrenees resort such a good choice for a sustainable winter holiday?
1 – The SkyVall uplift from Loudenvielle reduces car use and therefore CO2 emissions
2 – Numerous snow barriers have been erected to trap and conserve snow
3 – It was the first resort in the Pyrenees to use the SnowSat system to optimise production of ‘artificial’ snow
4 – It was also the first resort in the Pyrenees to use hybrid snow groomers
5 – Latest generation snow cannons have been installed which produce a greater quantity of snow with less energy
It’s a case of continuous improvement at the resort and a desire to constantly find better ways to provide the sustainable winter ski holiday that is more and more in demand in this climate emergency.
Rather than booking that traditional ski holiday this winter, stop and think whether it truly is the most sustainable winter holiday option.
If you consider all the elements that we have highlighted in this post then you are on the way to making choices that are better for our planet.
Contact us for a tailor made quote for a sustainable multi activity holiday with the family in the Pyrenees this winter or you can check out all of our holiday options on this link.