In Paris, green is the new black
The concept store Le Centre Commercial in Paris unites being eco-friendly and stylish. (Kim Laidlaw Adrey)
Paris is often only seen as a fashionable destination, but for those interested in travelling sustainably, an appreciation for design needn’t be abandoned in the capital of all things chic. The city is full of stylish – yet also ecologically responsible -- places to stay, shop and eat and ways to get around.
The hip boutique hotel, Le Citizen, which overlooks the buzzing Canal St Martin, is seriously trendy while still being green. Opened in 2010, the light-filled building with its pale-wood furniture and splashes of bright blue and yellow prides itself on being an eco-friendly hotel that pays close attention to its energy and water consumption and contributes to the community (for example, the mostly organic breakfast is provided by local bakers and greengrocers). The brightly-coloured Hi-Matic hotel in the east of Paris, which opened in 2011, also has a designer decor and a focus on being environmentally conscious. The self-dubbed “eco-lodge” serves 100% organic food, much of the furniture and the bed linen is made from recycled materials, toiletries are provided by “clean” skincare brand REN (free from parabans and sulphates) and the cleaning products contain non-toxic ingredients. Guests are even encouraged to only use the lift when they’re feeling tired, in order to save energy.
The city’s successful public bike hire scheme, Vélib, and the newer public electric car hire scheme, Autolib, provide an easy, cheap and green way of travelling around Paris for residents and visitors alike. For those who don’t wish to navigate the streets of the capital themselves, the taxi company G7 has a fleet of 500 hybrid cars, which produce lower emissions than ordinary cars, and Paris’ metro and bus network is quick, cheap and largely reliable.
Le Centre Commercial, a multi-brand concept store and hipsters’ paradise near the Canal St Martin, provides both an eco-friendly and fashionable opportunity to shop in Paris. It stocks on-trend, high-quality women’s and men’s clothes and shoes made by ethical brands (many of which are made in France, such as Bleu de Paname and La Botte Gardiane), a carefully-curated selection of organic beauty products and even reclaimed vintage furniture and second-hand bicycles.
And dining eco-responsibly doesn’t have to be boring. In Paris it can involve eating food prepared by a Michelin-starred chef. Yannick Alléno’s affordable locavore bistro, Le Terroir Parisien uses seasonal ingredients that are sourced almost exclusively from independent producers in the Ile de France region.
Kim Laidlaw Adrey is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.