Green Traveller's Guide to Paris
Rhiannon Batten provides a few tips for how to have a green eco escape in Paris
From the exquisite elegance of the Place des Vosges, to the gargoyles of Notre Dame and the gracious boulevards built by Haussmann, it would be implausible not to love Paris. A global hub for art, fashion and architecture, Paris is known worldwide for its romance and urban chic. Yet with over 70 Michelin-starred restaurants, some of Europe’s greatest museums, beautiful open parks and endless art galleries, this is not just a city for young fashionable couples. A perfect urban break, Paris boasts a café culture and dining scene to satisfy even the most demanding foodie, a range of cultural attractions to suit all ages and interests, and some of the most alluring backstreets in Europe.
Did You Know
Paris gets its name from its 3rd Century inhabitants, known as the Parisii
Paris has nearly 70 Michelin-starred restaurants
Over 300 organised events take place everyday in Paris, from concerts and exhibitions to theatrical performances.
Paris has 6 international train stations: Lyon, Nord, St-Lazare, Est, Montparnasse, and Austerlitz.
Paris is one of the most popular cities in the world, receiving about 30 million visitors a year
Where to Stay
Below are a some of the greener places to stay that we have selected in Paris, chosen for their commitment to reducing their draw on energy, encouraging guests to use more sustainable forms of low carbon transport, and sourcing local, seasonal food.
If you're planning to stay near to where Eurostar drops you off at Gare du Nord railway station, see: Hotels near Gare du Nord, including Hotel Mademoiselle (handily situated between Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est train stations) and Le Robinet d'Or, a 12-minute walk from Gare du Nord (and 7 mins to Gare de L’Est).
If you're looking for a cheaper/informal alternative there are plenty of hostel/hotels in and around Paris, see: Hostels in Paris, including Avalon Hotel Paris (less than 5 minutes walk from Gare du Nord) and Hotel De Rocroy, a three-star hotel just a few minutes walk from the station.
Hidden Hotel, Paris, France
This haven of tranquility offers a truly relaxing experience, with beautiful boutique bedrooms furnished with sustainable natural products. Despite the secluded feel, it's within walking distance of the impressive Arc du Triomphe and Champs-Elysées. hidden-hotel.com
Hotel Gavarni, Paris, France
Just across the river from the Eiffel Tower, this three-star hotel boasts fabulous views and impressive eco credentials: it was the first independent hotel in Paris to be awarded a European Ecolabel and has a strong commitment to the environment. gavarni.com
Solar Hotel, Paris, France
As the name suggests, this vibrant, budget eco-hotel generates its own electricity from solar cells. It offers simple, colourful rooms, a cosy garden, free bicycle hire and organic breakfasts, and is conveniently located near the Metro. solarhotel.fr
Hi Matic Hotel, Paris, France
In the ever-more hip Bastille neighbourhood, Hi Matic is a bold, bright hotel that certainly provides a unique experience: as a hybrid urban eco-lodge and fully automated hotel, it feels like a fusion of a youth hostel and a Japonese Ryokan.
St Christopher's Inn, Paris, France
This cheerful backpacker hostel boasts a picturesque setting on the waterfront, in a neighbourhood you may recognise from the film Amélie. It has a sociable atmosphere and keen efforts at energy and water conservation.
Places to Eat
Les Fines Gueules, Paris
French classics are served at this tiny bistro of much charm. Les Fines Gueules is located near Les Halles, and prides itself on using the freshest of ingredients, sourced as locally as possible. Suppliers are handpicked and staff are delighted to give chapter and verse on them when asked. The blackboard menu features the likes of rack of Lozere lamb with apple puree. Two courses cost around €28 without drinks. lesfinesgueules.fr
Lafayette Organic, Paris
Café and deli, this Paris hotspot opened in January 2011. Set on the ground floor of the landmark Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann, it’s a sleek outfit with floor-to-ceiling windows and striking contemporary décor – locals call it ‘bio-cool’. From bread to smoked salmon, apple tart and pastries all the food here is organic and seasonal, and most of it is locally sourced.
Le Potager du Marais, Paris
Try the mushroom terrine at this organic vegetarian café close to the Pompidou Centre. Or the carrot and cauliflower curry. Expect to pay around €12 for a main course - and to sharpen your elbows and jostle for space: the restaurant is tiny and very popular. lepotagerdumarais.fr
Les Grandes Tables de L'île, Paris
Head out to Ile Seguin, a short walk from Pont de Sevres metro station, where you’ll see work in progress on Jean Nouvel’s new arts complex as you make your way to one of city’s most ingenious restaurants. Clad in scaffolding and looking like a cross between a greenhouse and Noah’s Ark, the building is a temporary structure that will be dismantled in about two year’s time when the Ile Seguin project is completed. In the pleasingly airy loft space inside, chef Arnaud Daguin serves largely organic, ‘flexitarienne’ cuisine – which emphasises vegetables and is sparing on meat. You’ll pay around €24 for two courses (the likes of courgette gratin and roasted duck for mains). lesgrandestables.com
Local Attractions in Paris
Markets in Paris
Head to Boulevard des Batignolles, between Rome metro station and Place de Clichy, on a Saturday morning to enjoy one of the city’s best organic markets. From cheesemakers to gardeners you’ll usually find in excess of 30 stallholders, all with certified green accreditation. Head south the next day for an even bigger (and some say better) organic market on Sunday mornings at Boulevard Raspail on the Left Bank. Complete with purveyors of homeopathic remedies and biodynamic wines as well as epicurean spreads of breads, fruits, vegetables and more, it is a wonderful display of organic abundance.
Ethical shops in Paris
Go eco-chic. The fashion label Somewhere offers a beautifully styled range of men’s and women’s wear made from organic, recycled and natural materials. Shirts, tops, jackets, coats and trainers are all made with the finest of cottons, linens, mohair and more, with a portion of the profits of each sale supporting environmental causes. somewhere.fr
Cité des Sciences et de I’Industrie, Paris
This is a hi-tech, hands-on museum par excellence, injecting an enormous sense of fun into science while also highlighting ethical questions and environmental issues. Among the host of attractions and exhibitions are sections on energy and transport on the first floor and sea and climate on the second. Created on the site of the city’s old abattoir in the Parc de la Villette, the huge and very striking museum building is currently being given a revamp, bringing it up to date with the latest eco-friendly outlook. cite-sciences.fr
Musee Carnavalet, Paris
Set in the enchanting Marais district, this is a near-magical museum which gives a considerable insight into domestic life in 15th-18th century Paris largely through room sets. Salvaged from old buildings, these historic interior design schemes - from glittering chandeliers to finely carved wall panelling and wooden floors - are breathtaking. They are housed in the sumptuous mansion where Madame de Sevigné famously entertained Paris society in the 1600s - and even more famously commented on the visitors in letters to her daughter. carnavalet.paris.fr
Activities in Paris
Walks in Paris
Take an inspiring hike along the old – and disused - Vincennes railway line in the east of Paris. The track has been redevised as La Promenade Plantee, a footpath some 4.5km long that runs from just behind the Bastille opera house to the Jardin de Reuilly via an elevated walkway now lined with studios of craftsmen and artists. promenade-plantee.org
Electric cars, Paris
Autolib’ is operated very much along the lines of the well established urban bike sharing schemes that have proved such as success across France, the idea being that you pick up a car from one centre and drop it off at another. Launched with 250 cars, it is in the process of developing a network of 1,100 stations and recharge centres with 2,000 cars – all to be accomplished by June this year.
Meet the locals, Paris
Get right off the tourist radar and meet resident craftsmen, artisans, shopkeepers and other locals. Paris Par Rue Meconnues is a non-profit organisation training and employing young people to show tourists real, ‘hidden’ Paris by taking them through quiet areas to meet and talk with people who live there. Among a host of options, you can take a cheese-tasting tour, a stroll around Montmartre, and a trip to discover the soul of the Canal St Martin. paris-prm.com