Green France: Cabins, Birdspotting and Lessive

Green France: Cabins, Birdspotting and Lessive

Eco-tourism and green living in France is constantly evolving – our regular column brings you the latest news and tourism developments. In this article, we cover car-free rides, zero-waste picnics, an idyllic holiday village, and more 

Petrol-free in Dordogne

Driving through the French countryside, spotting cute villages and marvelling at the unfolding paysages is many a Francophile’s holiday dream – and yet, as ecological needs must, tourism bodies and local authorities are embracing alternative travel options that are more gentle on the environment while keeping France’s beauty spots perfectly accessible.

Travel by bike, by bus, by train, by kayak or on horseback in the Dordogne © Shutterstock

One such innovation is under way in Dordogne, where the department wants to develop tourism on foot, by bike, by bus, by train, by kayak or on horseback – above all, without a car. Dordogne Departmental Council and the rail network SNCF have just signed a five-year partnership to offer car-free rides in the Périgord, promising visitors the chance to visit its most tourist-friendly sites (such as Saint-Jean-de-Côle) just by climbing onto a train and/or by riding a bike – cyclists will be able to take their bicycles on board local TER trains free of charge. The Bordeaux-Brive service can now run at 110 km/h instead of 40 km/h, while the TER Limousin-Périgord are also supporting the project.

21 ideas for La Dordogne sans pétrole:

Neutral Needs

As of January 1, 2023, advertisements will no longer be able to boast about a product’s “carbon neutrality” if they are not able to produce data on the carbon footprint and possible offsetting measures. A new law will require a “balance of greenhouse gas emissions of the product or service concerned covering its entire life cycle”.

Lessive is more!

Virtuous Vélo

In Lyon, a new application turns green travel into discount coupons. The Vazy app rewards users who travel by bike, foot or scooter, with each kilometre travelled being converted into points that can be used at local merchants, which already number 107.

Lessive is more

Hotels across France are reassessing their ecological approach. L’Hôtel Almanarre Plage in Hyères bills itself as eco-responsable: it offers zero-waste picnics to guests and even uses natural, local lessive (washing detergent) for the laundry. As well as being delicious, breakfast is, of course, locally sourced and organic.

A true ‘back-to-nature’ escape © Domaine Natureza

Cabin Fever

Seeking a true “back-to-nature” escape in northern France? Domaine Natureza is located in RœuxRœux, in the Pays d’Artois corner of Pas-de-Calais, and provides luxury cabin accommodation in a “deconnected” environment of lakes and forests. All this, yet still within reach of Louvre Lens and the area’s key Great War sites.

Sit on the terrace and listen to the morning birdsong

Watch the Birdie

The motto “location, location, location” should be the banner for Résidence Le Village des Oiseaux, an idyllic holiday village conceived with an innovative and eco-responsible approach on the edge of a natural and protected area (Natura 2000 zone).

Situated in Motz, Savoie (in the Rhône-Alpes), this unique beauty spot has two types of en plein air accommodation available – “Belvedère” and “Observatoire”, some with balconies perfect for bird-spotting or simply enjoying birdsong morning and evening.

Kids can go for a swim in the supervised lake or fly down the zip wire, while the whole family can enjoy some hiking and cycling along nature trails or try their hand at canoeing on the nearby river.

Half an hour away is Domaine Monin, an AOC Bugey label – one of the oldest and smallest wine-growing areas in the whole of France. It is run by Charles Varin-Bernier, not only a vigneron but also a master cheesemaker!

Travel down the Seine and see the sights from the river © Vedettes du Pont-Neuf

Cruise Control

The electric conversion of Paris cruise boats continues apace, with tourist barge company Les Vedettes du Pont-Neuf committing to a progressive modification of its fleet. Rocca II, its oldest boat, built in 1963, will have its diesel engines switched for two 55kW electric motors, in time for the summer season. Private cruise company Green River Cruises plans to be all-electric in time for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Find gîte and B&B hosts committed to ecological change via the We Go Greenr website © We Go Greenr

Change for Better: Portals for the Future

If you wish to adopt a greener approach to your visits to France, there are increasing numbers of online booking platforms that gather the best ecologically sound accommodation options. Here are four to get you started…

We Go Green

It’s not just green holidays, but also “authentic” experiences that this site showcases, by choosing gîte and B&B hosts committed to ecological change, as well as a round-up of on-message hotels and lodges.

Green Go Voyage

Founded with twin commitments to sustainable and fair tourism to the fore, this site takes half the commission of usual booking platforms, with the aim of helping out both the traveller and the host.


A portal launched in 2018, Vaovert implements its own rigorous internal index to assess the credentials of each of the accommodation offerings on its site. Search is simple, by theme or location.


The idea of Loganto is to provide holiday-seekers with real, local and human escape ideas that allow you to slow down and relax. Each booking comes with a “Loganto Horizons” notebook of unmissable visits nearby.

From France Today magazine

Lead photo credit : Le Village des Oiseaux is the perfect place to relax.

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