Alpes de Hauts Provence. Between spa, nature and eco-tourism in Forcalquier

Isabelle and her daughter Barbara are a restaurant manager and bed and breakfast manager 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 vacation accommodations, set out to search forEnvironmentally responsible hosts. Meet Isabel, director of La Campagne St Lazare, a three-century-old care establishment that has been rehabilitated since 1991 in its guest rooms, restaurant and spa.

Its approach has been validated by the European Ecolabel Reference System for Tourist Accommodation, an AFNOR approved label.

What have you set to consume as little electricity as possible?

The goal is to become self-sufficient. We’ve reviewed the insulation of the house, a 300-year-old building, installed low-consumption light bulbs, the spa water is partially heated thanks to a heat pump, and soon we’ll be installing photovoltaic panels.

And your kitchen? How to be responsible for the environment?

My daughter is a cook and a naturopath. Until 2010, we served traditional cuisine, and since 2010, we started vegetarian cuisine. At first, we kept milk, vegan butter, but since 2016, 2017, everything is 100% vegan. We grow fruits and vegetables in our vegetable garden, providing ourselves with producers less than 50 kilometers from here.

Our goal is to produce a joyful, healthy and alert kitchen. Except for when the group comes, we limit ourselves to 15 wraps so we can discuss with each client, offering them juices that adapt to the season and their metabolism.

Social is also important. It is indisputable that cashews were obtained from the other end of the land cultivated by workers who had been abused. For our pastries, we can replace it with a thermos for example.

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Do you recycle?

completely. All our husks feed our donkeys, are used as bedding for our animals or composted. Each fertilizer is intended for a different use depending on its acidity. To remove the acidity of the litter, for example, I mix it with our grass clippings. Makes compost again! Some of the peels can be used to repel botanical garden insects.

The best way not to throw away is also not to consume. That’s why we buy everything in bulk. We also reuse bread bags from the baker who delivers us multiple times. When they are very old, they are used for the heater.

How did you learn all this?

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

What is your journey into biodiversity?

We have it all on site. The goal is thanks to the orange track to highlight the wetlands, which are full of the biodiversity of our land. We have three hectares. So everyone can discover the source, tidal fauna, aromatic plants, forest …

You give an important place to share, right?

Yes, with a pre-arrival questionnaire, I ask visitors what they come to do: stay with family? romantic? Do they prefer comfort or adventure? I try to understand each person’s wishes on arrival and guide them as best as possible in our beautiful corner. The hotel stays where the customer is anonymous, it’s sad. I, want to remember every first name, to encourage participation. What we want to offer here is serenity, listening to the birds sing, the fire flickering, but also to those who desire, sharing with others. That is why we chose to limit ourselves to 15 wrappers and why I welcome people with a drink, and show them around the place of residence … Here, a few centuries ago, we cured lepers, we are in the energy of nurturing, the energy of reconnecting with nature …

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