Green France: Seine à Vélo
Eco-tourism and green living in France is endlessly evolving – here we bring you the latest news and tourism developments including Seine à Vélo cycle route, the first-ever Horizons Trophies, and innovative policies at Château de l’Épinay.
Vélo Route Makes Impression
A triple threat of tourism goodness, combining art, splendid countryside and good old exercise, comes to northern France thanks to the Seine à Vélo cycle route. Spanning eight departments (Paris, Seine-Saint-Denis, Hauts-de-Seine, Yvelines, Val-d’Oise, Eure, Seine- Maritime and Calvados), it begins its snaking route alongside the famous fleuve in Paris and reaches the coast at Deauville and Le Havre due north-west.
On parts of the Normandy section you can ease your way through gorgeous landscapes and choose stop-offs according to your cultural inclinations – highly recommended is the 165km section (pick a part to suit your energy level, of course) running from Saint-Aubin-lès-Elbeuf to Le Havre, which is also part of the Véloroute du Val de Seine. The route begins at Monet’s inspirational home village of Giverny and takes in Rouen, La Bouille, Caudebec-en-Caux and Le Havre as well as many cultural incontournables including the abbeys of Jumièges and Saint-Wandrille and the picturesque fishing village of Honfleur (above). Plan your trip on the official website, which includes bike repair points along the way.
What a Drag
A giant cigarette packet on the iconic Promenade des Anglais in Nice is the latest French artwork installation with a powerful ecological message. Created by artist Toolate, the piece is an attack on the polluting effects of discarded cigarette butts (mégots). Inside the packet are 10,000 butts gathered up by local collective Nice Plogging.
Marseille Eco Move
The accommodation label Clé verte (Green key) has been awarded to six Accor hotels in Marseille as the southern city pushes its programme for becoming one of the most committed French cities on the issue of sustainable tourism. The tourist board has had a specialist department since 2020.
With water levels dropping almost six metres in places, one of the most emblematic water spots in France, the mighty Gorges du Verdon, became almost unrecognisable during the summer because of drought. A decree was issued banning nautical activity upstream of the bridge of Galetas, where the water usually forms a blue lagoon.
Colmar Water Woes
A major issue for local authorities that pride themselves on floral displays around town was the summer’s water restrictions. One mayor, in the famously floral gem of Colmar, had his bid to be exempt from a watering ban refused by the préfecture. He even asked restaurants to save water from ice buckets, carafes and vegetable washing water.
Sharing is Caring
In keeping with the growing sense that hotels need to be changing with the sustainable tourism times – and not just by paying lip-service to ‘green’ requirements – some establishments are putting ecological commitment at the very heart of their proposition. One such place is the stunning Château de l’Épinay (Maine-et-Loire), whose ethos is: “Here, we take care of you by taking care of our environment. Every day we become the hotel of tomorrow, respectful of the environment, advocating values of respect, generosity and caring.” Located 20 minutes from Angers, this four-star hotel and spa is fully engaged in a zero-waste policy. It also boasts a permaculture vegetable garden to provide fresh fruits and vegetable for its restaurant l’Orangerie. When not reposing in their luxury room or enjoying a spa treatment, guests can enjoy leisure activities in the 17 hectares of parkland such as bike rides or canoeing, lazing around the natural swimming pool or long forest walks. www.chateauepinay.com/en
Authorities in Southern Corsica have taken the drastic measure of imposing visitor number limits to the idyllic Lavezzi Islands, a collection of 23 granite islands that feature a nature reserve sheltering birds and protected plants, as well as sublime beaches. From summer 2023, there will be no more than 2,000 people permitted on the archipelago at any one time, with a QR code or bracelet system set to be introduced.
Change for Better Sustainable Horizons
Organised by ATD (Acteurs du Tourisme Durable), the first ever Horizons Trophies were awarded in June to 12 models of sustainable tourism development. Here is our own pick of the winners…
The Local Tourism Award went to the Occitanie Regional Tourism and Leisure Committee, for its “Occ’Ygène” card, which gives local people discounts on a host of leisure activities and tourism spots. www.tourisme-occitanie.com
Paradis des Bulles
The Special Jury Prize was awarded to Paradis des Bulles, a scuba-diving club in Port-Vendres (Pyrénées-Orientales) which opened in 2015, for the design of its 100% electric diving catamaran. leparadisdesbulles.com
The prize for Innovation in Circular Economy and Waste Management went to Ajaccio-based Falepa Corsica, for its recycling of plastic bottle tops sourced from tourism locations across the island. cress.corsica/falepa-corsica
Thalasso Île de Ré
Looking after the planet as well as your guests? The Award for Responsible Food went to Relais Thalasso Île de Ré for its transition to an eco-responsible kitchen serving great food with green virtues. relaisthalasso.com/atalante
From France Today magazine
Lead photo credit : Château de L’Épinay’s magnificent natural swimming pool © Château de L’Épinay
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