An Ecofriendly Traveller's Guide to Paris

Villages Nature is an ecofriendly resort that bridges the gap between tourism and nature
Villages Nature is an ecofriendly resort that bridges the gap between tourism and nature | © Villages Nature Paris
Photo of Jade Cuttle
29 December 2020

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.

Ecofriendly ways to get around Paris

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.

SeaBubbles are the new mode of travel in Paris | © SeaBubbles

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.

Eco-conscious tours and activities in Paris

La REcyclerie

Art Gallery
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La REcyclerie has lots of opportunities to socialise | © La REcyclerie
La REcyclerie is an eclectic cultural centre in the 18th arrondissement in the north of Paris, dedicated to promoting sustainable development in fun ways. The Porte de Clignancourt flea market takes place here every Sunday, where you can rummage for hidden treasures that can then be upcycled into brand new items at the Repair Corner. Visitors can learn upcycling DIY skills here, with a range of tools available to use. There are also cooking workshops, which focus on themes such as Seasonal Recipes to Save the World, and community volunteering projects in the garden every Friday afternoon. The venue also hosts a range of thought-provoking debates and conferences where people can come together and discuss hot topics related to sustainability and the environment.

We Love Green Festival

Music Venue
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Festival goers | © StockSnap / Pixabay

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

Natural Feature
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Bread-making workshop at BelleVie Farm | © Jade Cuttle / Culture Trip

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.

Stay in an eco-resort in Paris

Villages Nature

Eco Hotel, Eco-Lodge
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The eco-friendly hotel of Villages Nature | © Villages Nature Paris

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.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

Environmentally aware places to eat in Paris

Hank Burger

Restaurant, Vegan, Fast Food, $$$
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Hank Burger
© Hank Burger
The name of this popular vegan burger restaurant (a sister branch of Hank Pizza) is an acronym for Have a Nice Karma, an ethos that stands at the heart of its gastronomic values. The fair-trade menu is made with fresh, organic and mostly local ingredients that avoid the use of additives at all costs. Hank has established itself as a well-loved spot for sharing good food that guarantees a positive impact on our health and that of the planet.

Le Potager de Charlotte

Restaurant, Vegan, $$$
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Le Potager de Charlotte
© Le Potager de Charlotte

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.

Mutinerie Coworking

Cafe, French, $$$
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Mutinerie Coworking Paris
Coworking space | © Mutinerie
Mutinerie was the first place in Paris to pioneer coworking, which cuts down on electricity and energy consumption by gathering home workers and freelancers in one space. The owners of the cafe space also produce Le Magazine de Mutinerie, which is read by hundreds of thousands of people on topics related to sustainable changes in the world of work and society. It isn’t unique in Paris – there’s a wide range of reasonably priced ecofriendly coworking spaces, including Anticafé, Station W, Le Loft 50 Partners and Rooftop.

Ecologically minded shopping in Paris

Márcia De Carvalho

Shop
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Old socks are used for upcycling | © LUM3N / Pixabay

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.

These recommendations were updated on December 29, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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