Paris Weekends

Ideas for an eco-weekend break in Paris.

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Metro - Paris, France Notre-Dame, Paris Montmarte Painter, Paris

Paris

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.
 
VelibTravel 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 (www.velib.paris.fr). For just one Euro a day subscription, the first half hour is free and there are pick up and drop off points every 300m.
 
Alternatively, 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 (www.ecovisitparis.com) 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.
 
Frenchman 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.
 
In 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.
 
And 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.

Hotels, Bed & Breakfast:

Look out for either the European Eco Label or Green Key symbols pictured above when selecting your hotel.
 
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 Hi-Matic (www.hi-matic.net), 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.
 
Follow this link for other eco hotels in France.

Hostels and budget accommodation:

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.
 
Follow this link for eco hostels in France.

Holiday Apartments

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.
 
All-Paris-Apartments (www.all-paris-apartments.com) 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.
 
Follow this link for more apartments and ecogites in France

Restaurants

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 (www.legrenierdenotredame-saintlouis.fr and www.legrenierdenotredame.fr), 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 prices.
 
Phyto 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.

 

Shopping

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 de Clichy).

Set 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.


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Mr and Mrs Smith

Featured books:
Vegetarian and Organic Paris, Locations and Information About Vegetarian Restaurants, Juice Bars, Organic Food Shops, Organic Bakeries and Artesian Wells in Paris
Laure Goldbright Paperback -May 2009
Price in UK pounds
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Eco-lodges : Les plus beaux hôtels écologiques de France
Marie Lorrain, Matyas Le Brun, and Yann Arthus-Bertrand Paperback -Dec 2009
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