Alpes de Haute Provence. Between Spa, nature and environmentally responsible tourism in Forcalquier

Isabelle and her daughter Barbara are restaurateurs and managers of bed and breakfasts in La Campagne St Lazare (© La Campagne St Lazare)

Let the summer season begin! To help tourists who love green tourism but are sometimes a little lost when it comes to choosing their holiday home, has set out to findenvironmentally responsible hosts. Meeting with Isabelle, head of La Campagne St Lazare, a three-century-old nursing home that since 1991 has been rehabilitated into rooms, a restaurant and a spa.

Its approach is validated by the European Ecolabel Reference System for Tourist Accommodation, a label certified by AFNOR.

What have you put in place to consume as little power as possible?

The goal is to become self-sufficient. We have reviewed the insulation of the house, a 300 year old building, we have installed low consumption bulbs, the SPA water is heated in part thanks to a heat pump and soon we will be installing solar panels. .

And your kitchen? How is it environmentally responsible?

My daughter is a chef and naturopath. Until 2010 we offered traditional cuisine, and since 2010 we have started with plant-based cuisine. In the beginning we kept the milk, vegetable butter, but since 2016, 2017, everything is 100% vegetable. We grow fruit and vegetables in our kitchen garden, and we supply ourselves with producers less than 50 kilometers from here.

Our goal is to produce a kitchen of joy, health and mindfulness. Except when a group arrives, we limit ourselves to 15 covers to be able to discuss with each customer, offering them juice adapted to the season and their metabolism.

The social is also important. It is out of the question to procure cashews from the other end of the earth, cultivated by abused workers. For our baked goods we can replace them with e.g. lupins.

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Do you recycle?

Absolutely. All our peels feed our donkeys, serve as bedding for our animals or go to compost. Each compost is intended for different uses depending on its acidity. To deacidify waste, for example, I mix it with our grass clippings. It makes compost again! Some peels can even be used to repel kitchen garden insects.

The best way not to throw out is also not to ingest. That’s why we buy everything in bulk. We also reuse the bags of bread from the baker who delivers to us several times. When they are too old, they are used for the fireplace.

How did you learn all this?

Curiosity, faith, the desire to do good. It’s a bit like a Pandora’s box, we start slowly, then the ideas follow one another.

What is your biodiversity journey?

We have everything on site. The goal is thanks to an orange trail to highlight the wetlands, full of biodiversity, in our country. We have three hectares. Everyone can therefore discover the source, the animals of the tide, the aromatic plants, the forest …

You provide an important place to share, right?

Yes, with a pre-arrival questionnaire, I ask visitors what they come to do: stay with the family? romantic? Do they prefer to rest or for adventure? I try to understand everyone’s wishes on arrival also to guide them as best as possible in our beautiful corner. Hotel stay where the customer is anonymous, it’s sad. Me, I want to remember every first name, to encourage sharing. What we want to offer here is tranquility, listening to the birds sing, the crackling fire, but also, for those who want to share with others. That’s why we have chosen to limit ourselves to 15 covers, and that’s why I welcome people with a drink, show them around the property … Here we treated a few centuries ago lepers, we are in an energy of care, a energy of reconnection to nature …

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