Whilst La Folie Douce might be known for standing out from the crowd, fitting in to its surroundings is actually incredibly important to the Folie team. The world renowned party-
on-the-piste is leading the way when it comes to sustainability and making real changes to reduce its impact on the planet. Since its inception as a family- run, slope-side restaurant, it used a mix of locally-sourced materials, (stone, wood and slabs of shale) as building materials, to blend in with the mountain scenery during the summer months.
And whilst the enterprise has grown considerably over the years, the dedication to serving the finest Savoie cuisine (with a twist) in an incredible setting continues today. Then, just as now, the kitchen was dedicated to finding local producers, both embedding the business in the community and reducing its mileage from farm to table.
For many years now, the après extravaganza has been largely self sufficient when it comes to water provisions. A while ago, La Folie Douce drilled a pipeline into the mountain, and as the snow melts, it floods underneath Les 3 Caves. The water is then treated in a specifically designed room and used as the primary water source for the season. This means they don’t have to rely on energy intensive pumping of water from the valley. Likewise, no heating is required in any of the restaurant areas as the carefully planned architectural design of the building means that the heat from the kitchens warms them sufficiently.
Recently, Folie has been ramping up its commitment to sustainability with several new changes designed to lessen its environmental impact. These include the introduction of Eco-cups across all of their mountain locations. All drinks are now served in durable, non-disposable vessels, which hugely lessens the amount of throw-away plastic produced. Ecocups are a French innovation that are making waves in plastic reduction as they can be used for hot or cold drinks and are totally recyclable at the end of their lives.
On the subject of waste, La Folie Douce has made a big shift towards using glass and cardboard wherever possible with all recycling sorted on site, aided by cardboard compactors and glass crushers. The terrace, as well as the snow front, is cleaned by hand daily with staff sorting materials. PR for Folie Douce, Jerrine, informed us, “On big student weeks we communicate with Tour Operators that guests should not drink or leave waste
on the slopes and our staff assist TOs to manage and clean debris.”
Folie also works with the Pisteurs to ensure that partiers have fun responsibly. In line with that, security staff are on the lookout to make sure that Folie-goers do not leave with bottles, cans or other items to be thrown on the slopes. And this season saw the installation of urban ashtrays with butt sorting management as cigarette butts can be a big blight on the landscape come summer.
But waste isn’t all the team have focused on. As ever increasing numbers of people take steps to decrease their meat intake, the chefs have adapted the menus of the self service restaurant and La Fruitiere to offer vegetarian and vegan dishes daily. There is also a focus on local sourcing and freshly made food with 50% of products coming from French production and 75% of the dishes produced on site. The famous cheese shops stock the very best of local mountain cheeses : Persille de Tignes, Reblochon, Tomme de Bonneval, Beaufort, etc. By respecting the environment and by favouring local suppliers, La Folie Douce looks after the best interests of it customers and the local economy.
And they’re not stopping there: “In the future we are looking for further measures to encourage mountain sustainability.” says Jerrine. “The whole point is to continue with an eco-responsible mind set and do what we can do for the environment.” What you see on the exterior of La Folie Douce really is the tip of the iceberg. In researching this article, we were granted a glimpse of the cavernous underground clockwork that keeps the show rolling up above. What becomes immediately apparent is the picture of a well oiled machine with a heart, efficiently ticking over and constantly adapting to the prevailing needs of its clients. Perched on the side of the mountain, removed from the ebb and flow of village life, it really is a fascinating insight into a self sufficient way of working.