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The ski resorts of the French Pyrenees present their new improvements for 23/24 season

Published: Nov 15, 2023
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Content

1 New investment highlights
1.1 Natura Piau de Piau-Engaly shapes the resort of tomorrow
1.2 20 M€ for Cauterets modernization plan
1.3 Eco-modernization at Font-Romeu Pyrénées 2000 and Saint-Lary
2 Other sustainable projects
2.1 Grand Tourmalet: Green hydrogen and biodiversity
2.2 Cauterets: Responsible accommodation
2.3 Piau-Engaly: Eco-responsible initiatives
2.4 Gourette: From ski resort to mountain resort
2.5 Peyragudes: Snow canyons are becoming more economical, more skiing, with less water and energy.
2.6 Pyrénées2vallées: Saint-Lary, Peyragudes, Piau and Val Louron
2.7 Les Angles: Green Snowflake

Cauterets ski resort, in the French Pyrenees

 

 

The French Pyrenees ski resorts are experiencing new developments this season, which reaffirms the beauty of the territory with the slogan "The French Pyrenees is unique", and which is marked by a strong commitment to sustainable development and 4-season tourism, with investments of nearly 80 million euros this winter.

 

 

New investment highlights

 

 

Natura Piau de Piau-Engaly shapes the resort of tomorrow


Built in the 1970s, Piau-Engaly has privileged access to Spain via the Aragnouet-Bielsa tunnel (open 24 hours a day since this winter). To maintain its attractiveness in this remarkable high mountain environment, both in summer and winter, the Natura Piau project was launched in 2018. Organized in several phases, this 4-season restructuring project, unique in France, is planned to last until at least 2036 and will involve an improvement of accommodation, landscape, services and the range of activities on offer.

 

The activity diversification project is based on the development of new leisure areas in different parts of the resort and the construction of new service facilities. Natura Piau aims to bring a new dynamic to the destination, making it a true 4-season mountain resort that can welcome visitors all year round.

 

In addition, the municipality of Aragnouet has renovated the pedestrian paths and upgraded the roof of the shopping center; an investment of approximately 4 M€. The heart of the resort has also been extended to complete the existing commercial offer, with the creation of a tea room with terrace on the snow front, a clothing store and a rental store.

 

20 M€ for Cauterets modernization plan


Cauterets launches a major modernization project starting in 2024. To enhance the Montagne 4 resorts, we will carry out a phase of structural investments in the Cirque du Lys area. The works will be spread over 3 years, with an investment of 20 M€. In addition, access to the top of the slopes will be provided by a new chairlift that will improve skiers' comfort. In the summer, it is expected to enable the 30,000 visitors who frequent the site to quickly set off on hikes or descend the mountain bike trails of the Bikepark.

 

To encourage beginners to learn, a debut zone will be created at 2,000 meters, along with a new blue-level ski trail. The family area directly on the slopes will be redesigned to make way for pedestrians and fans of recreational activities (sledding, igloo, etc.). The concept of the two mountain restaurants will also be modernized, focusing on homemade products, with more service directly on the slopes.

 

Eco-modernization at Font-Romeu Pyrénées 2000 and Saint-Lary


Altiservice, which manages Font-Romeu Pyrénées 2000 and Saint-Lary, embarked last winter on an extensive program to modernize its resorts with an overall investment plan of 30 million euros. The first stage was Saint-Lary, with the construction of the Espiaube gondola lift and the Tourette chairlift.

 

The "Forêt" is the third chairlift in two years that Altiservice has installed in Saint-Lary-Soulan. This lift will reduce the need for shuttle buses and improve the experience back to the ski resort. These three lifts replace five old ones, thus minimizing the impact of the lifts on the landscape and biodiversity.

 

Font-Romeu Pyrénées 2000 also has an extensive investment plan. The first phase of the plan consists of replacing the gondola lift linking the Font-Romeu center with the Airelles ski area.

 

Starting this winter, the new lift will offer higher performance, higher speed, lower energy consumption, an optimized customer experience, a smaller footprint and more space for the 4 resorts.

 

There are 230 heated ski lockers for 3 to 5 skiers each, located at the two terminals of the gondola lift so that users can go directly to the village at the end of their day on the snow. The system is also designed from an environmental point of view, as the lockers will be heated by the heat of the gondola engine.

 

Finally, Altiservice has signed with LLUM its new 100% renewable electricity supply contract for 2024 and 2025 for its Font-Romeu Pyrénées 2000 and Saint-Lary ski areas. LLUM markets green energy produced 100% locally in Occitania.

 

Views of Saint Lary in January

 

 

Other sustainable projects

 

 

Grand Tourmalet: Green hydrogen and biodiversity


In order to manage electricity consumption as efficiently as possible, the Société Anonyme Semipublice (SEML) of the Grand Tourmalet in Hautes-Pyrénées has taken into account the energy challenges affecting its activity and has acquired a instructoring solution (SOCOMEC) deployed at all distribution points.

 

A project is currently under study to use the artificial snow infrastructure for renewable hydroelectric power production. Three zones have been identified: the first, on the La Mongie slope, and the other two on the Barèges slope. Alternative solutions are emerging, such as hydrogen production without having to connect to the public grid, using water from nearby rivers or lakes. Grand Tourmalet is participating in a study on the future of the hydrogen industry in mountain areas being carried out by the Agence Régionale Énergie Climat (AREC) at the request of the Occitanie Region.

 

Also, in response to the challenges of decarbonization of activities and innovation, this study analyzes the use of the waters of the Adour and Lake Dets Coubous to produce hydrogen. AREC, in collaboration with the Compagnie des Pyrénées, is working on the feasibility of such a project, which would make it possible to use green hydrogen for heating buildings and maintaining the water supply.The preliminary studies have already been completed, and the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, with the aim of using green hydrogen to heat the buildings and maintain the ski area (in particular with hydrogen snow groomers), as well as for mobility covering the last kilometer. Preliminary studies have been completed and the challenges of supply, storage and cost have been identified; the next step is to draw up a collective action plan.

 

Finally, as part of the European Life Pyrénées 4 Clima program, Grand Tourmalet is continuing its partnership with the Conservatoire Botanique des Pyrénées. The farm is one of the 3 experimental sites where observations will be made on the collection of local seeds for replanting and revegetation.

 

Cauterets: Responsible accommodation


To promote energy-efficient accommodation, the resort of Cauterets (Hautes-Pyrénées) has created its own label: Diamant Vert. Starting this winter, it will highlight the most comfortable and energy-saving accommodations, based on the DPE (energy performance diagnosis) of the partner accommodations.

 

Piau-Engaly: Eco-responsible initiatives


Piau has launched the Natura Piau project. The 4* Ecrins du Badet tourist residence and the improvement of the service offer is a recent example of the development of the resort's accommodation capacity. This year, the commercial area has also been upgraded.

 

Piau, which in 2010 obtained ISO 14001 certification as proof of its eco-responsible approach, is now facing a new commitment to the CSR label, which is based on the ISO 26000 standard and is aimed at reducing the company's environmental impact, in the short, medium and long term. As a result, electric bollards and snow barriers have been installed to store natural snow, the grass cover has been increased and a reforestation project has been launched for the next 3 years.

 

Also, to raise awareness among all its employees, Piau-Engaly deploys precise instructoring of each department's indicators aimed at saving energy, as well as to meet its responsible objectives (production of the strict minimum of artificial snow, use of ski lifts).

 

Other initiatives that reinforce this approach are the creation of an eco-tax for each service, the spring mountain cleaning operation and the sorting and marking of waste.

 

Gourette: From ski resort to mountain resort


In line with new trends and growing demand, in collaboration with the Permanent Center for Environmental Initiation (C.P.I.E.), Gourette continues to develop nature activities such as the setting up of a quiet area for grouse; the creation of discovery trails with signage in both winter and summer; or the development of nature activities, supervised by professionals.

 

Skiing in Gourette is a spectacular experience.

Peyragudes: Snow canyons are becoming more economical, more skiing, with less water and energy.


Enabling visitors to ski more than half of the resort, whatever the conditions, while reducing water and energy consumption, is the objective of the Peyragudes resort management. The investments made over the past 4 years have ensured a constant renewal of the latest generation of snow cannons.

 

This year there will be more than 60 new snow guns, which will improve production capacity and skiability, especially on the links between the 3 ski areas of the resort. With less energy, less water and a colder temperature close to 0°, the new snow guns produce more snow than ever before (together with the use of the Snowsat system to produce just the right amount of snow in the right place and the systematic use of snow barriers in windy areas).

 

On the Peyresourde slope, from now on visitors staying in the Balestas ski area will use electric shuttles to reach the slopes. The same will apply on the Agudes slope to reach the slopes from the car park lots. This initiative is part of the drive to define a new model for the resort. Over the past 5 years, numerous initiatives have been taken to reduce the resort' s carbon footprint (Skyvall valley lift, hybrid snow groomer, electric snowmobiles, new lighting, etc.).

 

Pyrénées2vallées: Saint-Lary, Peyragudes, Piau and Val Louron


With summits of over 3,000 meters such as the Neouvielle massif, Pyrenees2vallees includes four mountain resorts on the French side (Saint-Lary, Peyragudes, Piau-Engaly, Val Louron), with a total of 1,316,000 ski days and more than 30 million euros invested this season.

A Nordic area on the Spanish side, in the Pineta Monte Perdido valley, adds alpine skiing to the range of activities on offer. And, in addition to skiing, it has 46 mountain villages, charming and with a rich heritage, monuments declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO and recognized as art and history country and Grand Site Occitanie.

 

Les Angles: Green Snowflake


Les Angles has joined the system to intensify and promote the region's actions in favor of sustainable development. In this regard, it will install composters in all districts of the village and underground sorting garbage cans (moloks) in all streets; electric recharging points for vehicles; street lighting is LED; a wood-fired boiler and solar panels to supply electricity to the Angléo space and the adjoining residence; and, a system that allows it to control its water resources for artificial snow and thus manage water more efficiently.

 

In addition, all the ski lifts in Les Angles have individual meters to control electricity consumption, manage the speed according to the number of visitors and reduce the energy bill. Some municipal buildings are equipped with solar panels capable of heating part of the water in the Angléo thermal center.

 

The Lou Bac toboggan run is equipped with solar lanterns that illuminate the run at night.

 

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The 38 ski resorts of the French Pyrenees

 

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