Responsible tourism: France hiking vacation, French Riviera
Food air miles are limited at our base in the Mercantour as fresh organic produce, fruit and veg, milk, cheese and honey (and now from our own bees!!) are available within walking distance. Our water comes straight from the hill. We also grow our own vegetables, which we are happy to share with our guests.
Although we are 5km from the nearest town, we do try to encourage guests to use the €1.50 Alpes-Maritimes bus, and limit our road miles as much as possible using our minibus.
We recycle as much as possible and have longer term development plans for the house including installing a heat pump.
Information is provided to our guests to enable them to enjoy the Park to the maximum while showing the utmost respect for the environment. We only use local, qualified guides who are passionate about the area that they live in. They are paid a living wage for their excellent services.
We are 100% focused on creating awareness of this magical corner of South East France. Your walking leader is a partner of the Mercantour National Park, which has a continual training program for its leaders, to keep them abreast of developments and issues, and to enrich their local knowledge. Visitors can enjoy an unspoilt mountain environment and appreciate a traditional rural way of life. As permanent residents we are fully integrated into the community in the Vésubie valley.
Our base As we await permission to fulfill our vision for our centuries old farm house and land, we are keen to implement as many environmentally sympathetic measures as possible. We encourage the preservation of our pure water which comes straight off the mountain and use our splendid climate for laundry drying outside.
As much waste as possible is re-cycled, including pony manure which goes straight onto our vegetable patch. We aim to be as self sufficient as possible from your own garden. Guests are welcome to help themselves to fruit and vegetables.
When meals are provided they are prepared with local produce only, often solely from the Vésubie valley. Vegetarians are willingly catered for. Energy efficient bulbs are used throughout the house. We try to minimise the use of paper in our office. Guests are encouraged to shop locally and of course to respect the integrity of the National Park.
Working relationships We only work with qualified guides for all activities. These passionate locals create a genuine and rich experience for our visitors. They are paid the appropriate rate for professional guides. Our local accommodation partners are chosen for their warm welcome and a willingness to share their love for the region.
Business development In the longer term we will use abundant natural resources (wood and sunshine) for heat and light as well as providing alternative accommodation on our land. We work closely with other like minded partners here in the Mercantour, and can offer other eco accommodation, plus those adapted for the less mobile. We have have our own horses who are available for riding and taking out as a companion on day walks.
When we move away from our core area we take our principles with us. There is much to protect in the quaint village of Sainte-Agnes; so close to the French Riviera, yet full of "olde worlde charm". The village has managed to maintain a life style which has been little changed over the years. For sure there are a couple of tourist shops, but also many passionate artisans who have come to Sainte-Agnes to breathe life into the place.
The accommodation team , a closely knit family group, are keen to ensure that this charm is maintained.
Guests are offered information which ensures that they can enjoy the area to the maximum while showing the utmost respect for the environment. The guiding team and local horse partner, Denis Longfellow, are focused on the maximum enjoyment to be gained from this wonderful feast of nature, while ensuring its integrity.
Litter is always packed out, no flora is picked and the natural habitat of wildlife is respected.
We have lived here in the Mercantour for 12 years and are proud to be part of the community. The area, despite its proximity to the French Riviera, is quite poor, but inhabited by people who are passionate about the area, so we are delighted to be able to make an impact on the local economy. Our guests can take advantage of our local knowledge for walks and other activities, and recommendations for fun places to eat and drink. Therefore guests don't waste a Euro or a day being disappointed, and our local suppliers who merit support, get it.
We support the active community in Roquebilliere with its local weekly market, and buy as much as possible from local producers. We are also keen to contribute to cultural events which keep the "patrimoine" of the area buoyant - these include dancing in the village square in July and August, a summer program of music and drama, an art gallery showcasing local talent, and a cost free system for bartering goods and services between inhabitants.
When using other accommodation we try to ensure that a night could be spent with a local farmer or craftsmen, providing valuable income to our hosts and also giving guests an appreciation of a typical rural life here. Sainte-Agnes is a village which soon regains its sleepy nature after the hustle and bustle of July and August. We are very pleased to work with a family run hotel, which is proud of its heritage, and its use of local ingredients, and also to persuade our guests to spend money in local community shops.
Reviews of France hiking vacation, French Riviera
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.
I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 18 Nov 2013 by anne webb
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
The great organisation that appeared effortless but I'm sure reflected much planning and forethought. Every day the walks were 'just right' for the weather, our legs and our mood without us having to think about it. The food was superb, varied and appeared as if by miracle in the right amounts at the perfect time.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Do what preparation you can but don't worry as there are so many walks requiring so many different levels of fitness that you will love it regardless if you want a short walk of a strenuous hike. If particular fauna or flora are important to you then check when they will be around but even in November we saw butterflies and praying mantis as well as chamois charging through the snowy forests and fox tracks in the snow.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Being off season many of the refuges and cafes were closed but the food we ate was local and usage of the footpaths should encourage their maintenance. Mel and Liz are obviously very much part of the local area.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
Absolutely lovely and a great way to get away from it all whilst enjoying glorious scenery and food. Very reasonably priced and definitely on the list of things to rebook and recommend to friends!