Responsible tourism: Provence walking tour, France
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 now have a super "green" heat pump supplying hot water and central heating.
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 are off our home territory we do take our principles with us. Here in Provence we are keen to show our guests the treasures which lie behind the more popular areas in Provence. Our base is a family owned gite just outside Forcalquier, which is a bustling market town. The itinerary really allows guests to appreciate how man has shaped the landscape from the dams in the stunning Verdon Gorges (Europe's Grand Canyon), to the ochre and coal mines, to building stunning churches to the glory of God. The limestone hills have stunning flora and fauna.
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.
In Provence the base is a family owned gite, not a faceless chain hotel. A visit is made to Forcalquier market where much of the food for the week is sourced, and guests are encouraged to buy items from local craft producers. Local wine is served. For meals out restaurants using organic and local ingredients are chosen.
Reviews of Provence walking tour, France
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 27 Sep 2015 by Ken Margraf
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
The food throughout the stay, the choices of hikes (particularly the gorge and the mountain top), and the mix of people.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Be in shape! Be prepared for challenging walks.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
We left no trace behind on our walks. Food was purchased locally. We visited local markets and went to two local restaurants.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
This experience exceeded our expectations. We had great food, great guides, interesting and challenging walks and a very compatible group.