Eco-tourism and green living in France is endlessly evolving – our column brings you the latest news and tourism developments
The city of Grenoble, capital of the Isère department, beat 17 other cities to be designated European Green Capital for 2022 by the European Commission, and will host a year-long series of events and festivities highlighting the various challenges of ‘ecological transition’ – adopting greener ways of living. The distinction is awarded in recognition of exemplary environmental and sustainable development measures. Grenoble succeeds the Finnish city of Lahti, becoming the 13th European city to receive the title and the second in France, after Nantes in 2013.
Grenoble’s mayor, Éric Piolle, announced a series of events and festivities, more than 200 in total. The city will receive financing of €4m from the State. A purse of €340,000 has already been awarded to 52 associations, such as collective gardens and an outdoor wooden theatre in Jean Verlhac Park. A new call for citizen participation will be launched in the spring, with a fund of €150,000.
Keep abreast of news and events at en.greengrenoble2022.eu
The first plans behind Emmanuel Macron’s ‘Odysseo’ environmental project for Marseille have been announced. A study has been completed, showing how pleasure boats could be upgraded to use clean energy to bring them up to environmental standards. It would create thousands of jobs and revive a dying industry, say project leaders.
Behind the Mask
Paris company Fab-Brick is collecting vast quantities of sanitary masks used by Ehpads (care homes) in order to recycle them. The masks are crushed and mixed with textiles, before being compressed and transformed into aesthetic bricks for interiors. For more information visit www.fab-brick.com
According to Ferus, the association for the protection and conservation of the bear, wolf and lynx in France, there are about 60 bears in the Pyrénées, mostly in Ariège, then in Haute-Garonne and Béarn. Tensions are running high between hunters and those who wish to protect the bears – in November a hunter killed a bear after it injured him.
Help the Bees
Les Dorloteurs sells little bee houses for balconies or gardens, with transparent tubes in which cocoons can be stored then sent to the company before winter. Wild bees come to build their nests in the Dorlotoir and lay their eggs, which then turn into larvae and cocoons. See the website for the subscription-based model.
Pierre Rabhi, pioneer of agri-ecology – aimed at regenerating the natural environment by excluding pesticides and chemical fertilisers – has passed away, aged 83. He wrote many successful books, founded the Colibris movement and encouraged shared gardens and educational farms. “Everything we hear today, Pierre said more than 45 years ago,” said his friend Cyril Dion. For more information visit www.colibris-lemouvement.org
360-Degrees of Green
Looking for a ‘green stay’ unlike any other? Located near Évreux, in the heart of Normandy, Le Domaine du Centaure is a unique bed and breakfast ‘Domespace’ that ingeniously turns to follow the sun, in order to allow guests to make the most of daylight. The rotating wooden house is contemporary and environmentally-friendly. Classified in 2017 as Clef Verte accommodation thanks to its ecological credentials, the house boasts four light, spacious B&B rooms. Your host, Karen, is on hand for a warm welcome and loves sharing daily life in harmony with nature, respecting the earth and serving up local – and delicious – produce at breakfast time. en.ledomaineducentaure.com
Change for Better: Green Achievers
Ungersheim in Alsace, which has about 2,300 inhabitants, now boasts the title of ‘Best small French town for Biodiversity’. Among its eco-triumphs are the Ecomusée d’Alsace.
Baie de Somme
This wildlife haven in Picardy, a designated Grand Site de France, conducts a raft of tourism and nature initiatives with a zero carbon goal.
The capital of Vendée has been awarded the prestigious overall title of ‘French capital of Biodiversity, 2021’. Initiatives include its ‘Plant 100,000 trees’ project.
The Nord city claimed the ‘Best Large Town for Biodiversity’ prize for 2021. Water was its theme, with pond plans and development of riverbanks key achievements.