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From flying water taxis to ecofriendly fashion and a sustainable festival, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Paris responsibly. With a growing number of environmentally friendly food venues, sustainable intercity transport and eco-conscious stores, activities and hotels, there is an increasing effort in the French capital to improve the city’s green credentials. Here’s our guide.
The most ecofriendly way to see the city is to hop aboard one of the city’s flying water taxis, or SeaBubbles. These futuristic machines, invented by Alain Thébault, use electric propulsion to glide across the water. These SeaBubbles emit zero noise, zero CO2 emissions and zero disruptive waves; they are powered by a battery system that uses clean energy based on hydrofoil technology that lifts the boat out of the water – a triumph over traditional carbon-fuelled transport means.
While SeaBubbles might sound exciting, biking remains the most practical ecoconscious way to travel in Paris. Vélib’ is the most popular rental service, with 20,000 bikes at 1,800 different stations throughout the city. The urban bicycle network covers 700km (435mi) so there are plenty of routes to explore. Download the Geovelo app, which has lots of useful information, such as where to find parking places and journey time estimations.
One of the highlights of the eco-traveller’s diary is the two-day We Love Green Festival. Running since 2011, this ecofriendly festival, held in June, takes over the Bois de Vincennes in eastern Paris, inviting exciting artists to join an eclectic programme that flits between indie and electro, hip-hop and the occasional folk artist on the line-up. But music is not the only focus. This is about sustainable practices that make the most of local food producers and artisans. The Think Tank is an ideas lab in the heart of the festival that hosts talks to promote environmental innovation and encourage the exchange of ideas. As well as being powered entirely by renewable energy, using solar panels and generators that run on recycled cooking oil, 100% of the waste at the festival is sorted for recycling, reuse or compost.
BelleVie Farm is a working farm just outside Paris, perfect for the ecoconscious traveller looking to reconnect with nature. Instead of observing the cattle, you can gain hands-on experience of life on a farm. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty with activities ranging from seeing how cows are milked to learning how to grow your own fruit and vegetables, making delicious honey and baking your own bread. The idea is to encourage visitors to become more self-sufficient. If you’re short on time, you can visit for the day and take part in all these activities, though most people tend to stay a few nights.
Villages Nature is an ecofriendly resort that bridges the gap between tourism and nature. The highlight is the geothermal lagoons, which take an innovative approach to water management known as reverse osmosis. A series of filtering gardens clean used water and feed it back into the on-site lake, so an impressive 37% of the resort’s water is reused. These water-saving measures complement the resort’s full commitment to renewable energy for heat and hot water, which is achieved by installing low-consumption appliances in the holiday homes here. The decor uses 100% FSC-certified wood and non-toxic paints, as well as tree-branch coat hooks and leaf-emblem wallpaper. The site prioritises local resources, too, including locally sourced ingredients are used in the restaurant.
Le Potager de Charlotte serves seasonal and local vegan produce including innovative dishes such as rice and chickpea pancake served with Espelette pepper and roasted squash seed. The starter version is topped with fresh chives and cashew cream – an ingenious vegan recipe that uses cashew nuts to create a dairy-free alternative to cream. Again, it’s all about making a positive impact on the environment.
Márcia de Carvalho collects secondhand clothing from schools and public institutions as well as keen individuals with an odd sock drawer. The used fabric is then transported to factories, to be washed and processed and a quality yarn is extracted that goes back to Paris where it is spun into new items – hats, gloves, scarves, even sweaters and handbags. In a sweep of full-circle genius, some of the yarn is even reworked into socks. Márcia puts a Made in France label on her products, so all the socks are sourced from within the country. Other upcycling companies in Paris include W Y L D E, which sells mens- and womenswear, and Rose Bunker, which sells vintage objects.