Green French Vacations Far from Primitive

A European Holiday can be More than a String of Guided Tours and Gift Shops

Copyright © Lauren Brown; All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission; Posted August 23, 2012

The Chateau de Vincennes Donjon; photo courtesy Edal Anton Lefterov


France is the source of all things grand and extravagant: Versailles, Paris, Bordeaux, Nice, St. Tropez...when one says they’re going to France, it isn’t assumed that it is to explore and study the pristine countryside, take part in conservation efforts, or eat a Spartan vegan/foraged/raw organic diet.

But there is a new generation of traveler, one that wants to do just that, leaving virtually no carbon footprint for the next generation to deal with.

Indulge in Eco-Friendly Travel

This traveler assists in conservation of natural resources, uses (but not abuses), nature as the prime source of entertainment, yet does appreciate some of the finer offerings of France, such as restaurants, music and theater.

Saving money on the more costly and environmentally damaging modes of transport such as air travel can leave you with more currency in your pocket to spend on native treats.

For instance, opting for a ferry ride over the Channel and cycling to your destination will keep you fit and conserve the dollars in your vacation budget.

Going green is the new “black” in France, and everyone from the Bohemian university student to the Rue Cambon atelier is jumping on this (electrically-powered) train.

When planning your next visit to France, keep in mind the following tips to ensure a green and glorious visit.

  • Walk where possible: In cities like Paris, it’s not as difficult as you would imagine. It is a very compact city and you can get from Montparnasse to the Sacre Coeur in about an hour if walking briskly.

    Not only do you save on taxi and metro fees, you get to see the sights and storefronts you’d miss otherwise.

  • Bike it!: Paris and other large French cities have bike rentals all over town. You simply pay a fee at the kiosk where you see the bikes (they're obvious), and you ride it to your destination and leave it there! How easy is that?

  • Tram, Ma’am: Many European cities including Paris have extensive tram service networks, and they’re a great way to get from Point A to Point B to points in between.

  • Ridin’ on the Metro: The infrastructure of the Metro in Paris is outstanding; the trains are reliable; and you avoid the pollution, traffic, and delays of street traffic.

  • Pack light: Chances are you will end up wearing a favorite pair of jeans or a skirt that flatters you more often than not. Take that into consideration when packing and just bring about 3 interchangeable basics.

    Your back will thank you, less fuel will be used in your flight, and you’ll avoid having to spend unnecessary time picking through your bags for an outfit.

  • Keep up your green habits at the hotel! Continue turning off lights, don’t have housekeeping clean sheets every single day.

    Opt for shorter showers and use your own toiletries as well. And of course, pick an eco-friendly place to stay (see recommendations at the end).

  • Take advantage of the local food: Seek out the excellent boulangeries (bakeries), fromageries (cheese shops) and veggie and produce stands.

    Not only is the food local, delicious and’s also a great way to get a sample of what the locals eat, you save money, and you can picnic at a park (or even in your apartment).

  • Get outside and enjoy nature: Sure, the shops, restaurants and theme parks are fine diversions, but taking day hikes at beautiful parks and suburban forests gives you a perspective no typical tourist gets to enjoy.

    Plus, you save so much money by enjoying nature and the fruits of the forest. The shops aren’t going anywhere, nor are the theme parks. In fact, suburban forests and parks are in danger of urban sprawl, so don’t let the opportunity pass you by.

  • Treat yourself to some eco-friendly shopping: Look for eco-friendly shops and restaurants. France has a large eco-movement so it isn’t hard to find.

  • Don’t be a litter bug: Unlike the U.S., the European Union has strict rules about recycling. It can be easy to throw everything away in one bin, but try to adhere to the paper/plastic/other rules set forth in Europe.

    You’ll feel better about your contribution to aiding the environment will avoid a rather large fine. Europeans don’t take littering lightly.

About the Author:

This is a guest post by Lauren Brown, blogger for Al Fresco Holidays — specialists in French Camping Holidays. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling and horticulture.

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