I visited the no.1 chalet in the French Alps and it changed my mind about ski holidays

Few people have the opportunity to stay at the #1 rated ski chalet in all of the French Alps.

Ferme a Jules is always full, and winter sports enthusiasts clamour to reserve their spot at Morzine’s alpine paradise 12 months in advance.

Anyone who has had the pleasure to visit the place will know this. The kind of service that you see on TV ads was evident from the moment I entered the front door. Wine, smiles, and cheese boards were the order for the day. Before I knew it, I was sitting down to a three-course meal.

Before I knew it, I was sitting down to a three-course meal.

It’s not all about fine dining and fun. Beyond Ferme A Jules’ striking exterior – an elegant oak chalet with ten bedrooms and a log-burning fire place, as well as a hot tub on its balcony – is a strict sustainability policy that underpins the splendour of this magnificent abode.

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We love our guests to stay with us. They will leave feeling satisfied that they have been well treated, had delicious food, and had minimal impact on the environment.

Can skiing holidays be green?

AliKats

AliKat’s dedication to sustainability is unparalleled, just like Ferme a Jules’s level of service.

The chalet’s day-to-day operations are guided by a strict green philosophy. This includes the permaculture garden, where all the resort’s fruits and vegetables are grown.

Judge explains, “My wife and me are co-founders in Morzine of a charity called Montagne verte.”

“One of our main initiatives was to bring together many businesses to offer an Alpine Express Pass. This basically offers 10% or more off ski passes and accommodation, as well as equipment hire, if you travel to here by train.

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The relationship of skiing to the environment has been a subject of intense scrutiny since its inception. The carbon-intensive sport of skiing is in direct conflict with the natural world.

Since the 1960s, the French Alps have seen an declining annual snowfall at a rate of five days per ten years. This shift is due to climate change, which has resulted in warmer and wetter winters that have less snow on the slopes.

Mid-February was a good time to travel, as the powder should be fresh and plentiful. However, I was greeted with little snow cover and warm days. As we climbed Morzine’s slopes, I would have been content in a t-shirt.

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This is a common story in the Alps where ski resorts are taking more extreme measures to reverse the effects of years of emission. Chairlifts in Les Arcs have solar panels installed on them. A biomass heater supplies 90% of the resort’s energy with organic matter.

Morzine is no exception. In an effort to decrease car use, the resort will pedestrianize its town center. A new snowpark high up in the mountains will rewilde some of Europe’s most threatened birds of prey.

Judge believes these initiatives offer green solutions to some of the most difficult challenges in skiing. They are admirable, but they don’t address the root cause of the sustainability crisis in the ski industry.

He says that around 75% of the carbon footprint for a ski vacation from a British individual to a French resort is due to their transport. We’re trying to find the most carbon-intensive part of a ski vacation through the Alpine Express Pass.

“If people could travel by train it would greatly reduce the carbon footprint for tourism in the Alps.”

Zero waste doesn’t mean zero flavour

AliKats

The AliKats Climate Action Plan is the core of this environmental movement. It’s a framework that aims to make the chalet service net zero by the summer 2022. Judge aims to discredit the idea that skiing is bad for the environment. He plans to increase the company’s fleet and power all chalets with renewable energy.

He says, “We don’t claim to know all the answers. But we are aiming high because our planet is in crisis. An immediate response is required to protect the environment for future generation.”

“We want to make sure our food practices are in harmony with the natural world and respect our fellow animals. This will ensure food production can be sustained for future generations.

AliKats

The AliKats permaculture gardening is a short distance from Judge’s home. This is where all food waste from the chalet goes. Any leftover food, including meat scraps and breadcrumbs, is put in the compost pile to be converted into organic matter. The compost is then compressed, squeezed, and fermented to make fertiliser for the next season’s crop.

Judge says, “We are just starting this journey. But we have already made good strides in raising chickens, setting up an anual vegetable garden, and planting the fruit- and nut trees that will be the centre of our future food forests.”

“Food waste from our chalets provides nutrients for our soil, which then feeds our chickens. It’s a wonderful efficient cycle.

This attention to detail can be found throughout the business, from the heat pump that keeps the chalets warm to the electric coffee roastery that provides beans to all the resort.

Every detail has been carefully planned to ensure that guests have a memorable holiday.

Luxury chalet that feels like home

AliKats

The beautifully restored farmhouse was built in 1808. It is the ideal place to relax after a hard day on the slopes. There are ten large en-suite rooms that can accommodate 26 people. This makes dinner time a lively affair to enjoy with new friends.

The three-course meal includes a variety of dishes. Guests enjoy chatting about their day’s adventures as they enjoy the delicious food. The most beautiful ski runs. The largest falls. The condition of the pistes. The wine glasses are filled as if by magic and the conversation continues well past bedtime.

AliKats

AliKats staff are always available to provide information about the resort and a friendly smile. If you forget your ski pass, they’ll drop it off at the bottom of each slope.

There is nothing too small or too large to grab their attention. One of the chalet hosts offered me a cheese platter as I sat next to the fireplace that evening.

“Thank you, I’m vegan,” I smiled and extended my hand in apology.

She smiled back.

It’s all vegan.

I should have known. Ferme a Jules has taken everything into consideration. One guest said, “When you come here you can leave all your thoughts at the door.” It was hard for me to take mine with me on my way out.

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