Whilst Nicholas Szarkosy has
great plans to turn Paris into an eco friendly metropolis, it
is not a city that immediately leaps to mind for its eco-credentials.
However as the first overseas capital with direct rail link from
the UK, it has to be considered as a good venue for an environmentally
friendly weekend away, and if you read on, you will see there
is much of interest
Getting there and getting around:
There really is only one way
to 'do' Paris from the UK and that is with the Eurostar -this
will deliver you in the heart of Paris less than three hours
from St Pancras. If you do need to drive, perhaps going on to
other parts of France, then there is the choice between the shuttle,
or a range of ferry companies.
Travel around Paris is simple with an
extensive Metro -see RATP (http://www.ratp.fr)
Paris public transport system. Includes downloadable maps and
a traveller's guide. Rail travel further afield is with the French
national railway, SNCF. (www.sncf-international.com)
Better still, you can hire a
Vélo (bicycle) all over the city -see Vélolib
For just one Euro a day subscription, the first half hour is
free and there are pick up and drop off points every 300m.
if you like being transported, try Cyclobulle (www.cyclobulle.com) an
electric chauffeurdriven tricycle company based in Rue de
Cléry in the 2nd arondissment -from ¤25
for a thirty minute guided tour.
Sightseeing, guides, events and tours:
If you can, avoid Disneyland
and the Eiffel Tower in favour of other less crowded destinations.
The Louvre is obviously fantastic, and wandering in the area
around Rogers' Pompidou Centre (www.centrepompidou.fr)
is always a treat, but here are a few different ideas.
Try a tour with Ecovisit
who run private guided toursusing a Toyota Prius -they will show
you the sights of Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre Dame, Champs
Elysees avenue, Place des Vosges, and tell you all about the
greener side of Paris.
Patrick Blanc (www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com)
is one of the worlds leading exponents of vertical gardens, and
there are examples in Paris of "le mur végétal"
at Musee du Quai Branly (www.quaibranly.fr)
-a stunning Jean Nouvel designed building bridging over a landscaped
garden (pictured), and at Pershing Hall Hotel (www.pershinghall.com)
-an elegant spa hotel near Champs Elysee, where the centre piece
of the elegant courtyard restaurant is a green wall.
fact, the Musee Branly is well worth a morning to visit.
It has a fantastic collection of Ethnographic artificats beautifully
displayed -there is a feeling of simaltaneously marvelling at
this demonstration of the richness of humankind, while feeling
unbearable sadness at the passing of such a diverse worldwide
culture. A particular highlight of our visit was the amazing
teachers who held groups of schoolchildren (and adults) entranced
by their engaging and theatrical explanations of the exhibits.
to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, try a walk
along the La Promenade Plantée (www.promenade-plantee.org)
in the 12te arrondissement. This disused elevated railway runs
for 4.5 kilometers above the Viaduc des Arts, and is covered
in plants and flowers.
Finally, if you are in the city
in September, how about The Ethical Fashion Show (www.ethicalfashionshow.com)
at the Cité de la Mode et du design.
Gavarni Hotel (www.gavarni.com)
offers super chintzy Parisian charm with a green emphasis and
not far from the Eifel Tower -this was the first independant
hotel in Paris awarded the European Eco-Label. They even run
their own green tourism blog.
The Regent's Garden Hotel
by Best Western (www.hotel-regents-paris.com),
near Champs Elysees and Palais des Congrès, is one of
the first chain hotels to achieve a Eurpean Eco Label.
Difficult to classify is the
an eco friendly design hotel in the Bastille area -they say they
mix the characteristics of an urban hotel with a country bed
and breakfast, but it looks to offer more than that.
If you are feeling militant,
the Solar Hotel (www.solarhotel.fr)
describes itself as the first ecological, economical and activist
hotel and is committed to an overall approach of ecotourism,
sustainable development, protection of the environment. It is
also very reasonably priced and offers fee bicycles for its guests.
Éthic étapes (www.ethic-etapes.com)
is a non-profit voluntary union of international accommodation
centres (CIS) which established in 1979 to provide young people
from all over the world with quality accommodation and shared
activities. Centres in Paris include Fiap Jean Monnet and Résidence
Internationale de Paris.
Quai 48 (www.quai48parisvacation.com)
stay on a Dutch péniche (cargo barge) launched in 1916,
converted to charter in the seventies and more recently transformed
into a luxury vacation accommodation.
offer a great selection of comfortable, budget friendly holiday
apartments in different districts of the city close to
the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Sacré Cur, the Louvre Museum
and many more locations.
Paris is not the most vegetarian
friendly place on earth, but there are nonetheless good restaurants
to be found. Try Le Potager de Marais (www.lepotagerdumarais.com)
for organic vegetarian food or Le Grenier de Notre Dame
a quaint vegetarian restaurant restaurant overlooking
the Seine and its nearby partner on the left bank, considered
to be some of the best macrobiotic restaurants in Paris.
Also overlooking the Seine in the 13e arrondissement, Restaurant
BIO Art (www.restaurantbioart.fr)
has an emphasis on Mediterranean cuisine, with a dining room
designed on feng shui principles.
If money is no object, then
try Alain Passard's restaurant L'Arpège (www.alain-passard.com)
where you will find awesome vegetarian fare at similarly awesome
Bar on Boulevard St Germain is credited as being the first
all organic bar and restaurant in Paris. There is a very good
market a few yards away at Place Maubert-Mutualité serving
a variety of organic foods.
For everything outdoors, visit
Nature et Découvertes (www.natureetdecouvertes.com),
who have a series of store across the city selling everything
from camping equipment to organic cosmetics.
Alter Mundi (www.altermundi.com) offers
ethical design and goods along with a fairtrade organic
deli and café.
Paris' most famous organic food
market is on the lower half of Boulevard Raspail every
Sunday from 9.00 to 3.00 (Metro Sevres/Babylone). There is also
the Batignolles Biologique Market in the 17th arrondisement on
Saturdays along Boulevard de Batignolle (Metro: Rome or Place
on the Left Bank overlooking Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Company
is much more than simply an English language bookshop. It organses
a variety of readings and other events and is a great place to
meet someone. The bookstore supports up and coming writers by
providing work in the shop for a couple of hours each day.