Visiting Paris during the Olympics in an “ethical” and “ecological” way, a fad?

Explore Paris and its region in an “ethical and ecological” way, so promises Tao Guides’ new opus, which praises “The first permanent tourist guide dedicated to the Île-de-France», specifically by offering 350 “engagement” addresses and experiences.

But at a time when the capital and its surrounding areas are preparing to welcome millions of visitors from all over the world for the Olympic Games, can we still talk about an ecological approach? The author, Eric Oliver, responds with optimism, specifying that the guide was partly funded by a visit to the Île-de-France region and the regional natural parks present in the region, as well as the Paris region .

Author of the guide, Eric Ollivier.
tao guide

Take Figaro. , What is special about Tao guides?

Eric Oliver. , It is a tourist guide that is sixteen years old and is published by the only publishing house completely dedicated to sustainable, environmentally-responsible, ethical and ecotourism. Its specialty: offering addresses (food, accommodation, activities) for a committed approach. But at the same time, activities have to be engaged in a voluntary and supportive manner, as indicated in our “Act” section. This could result in waste collection, looting, food distribution or cleaning the banks of the Seine… Tao guides also try to show how to move about in a “green” way, using transport, and with indigenous populations. How to behave. We care about the natural as well as the human environment, without preaching, just by giving ideas.

Presenting Paris as an ecological destination can make more than one Île-de-France resident smile, isn’t it?

I, who is purely a resident of Île-de-France, can tell you that we can do ethical and ecological tourism very well in Paris and the region, with nothing to envy to the bigger neighboring capitals . For example, you can easily take a completely eco-responsible trip for a week. Tourists often think of the streets of Paris and its Eiffel Tower. However, Île-de-France, to which the guide devotes 250 addresses (another 100 belong to the capital), has more green spaces than urban areas. Especially with the presence of four large regional natural parks. Another major advantage of this region is its soft mobility network. You can get there easily by train and then it is very easy to reach more distant places in Essonne or Yvelines without spreading pollution… which is very rare in other parts of France.

The release of the guide coincides with the Olympics. Is it aimed at visitors or residents living in Île-de-France?

Both ! This massive sporting event, contrary to what we’ve heard, is not ecological. It would be a perfect paradox: when you bring a million people for two weeks, it is not ecological… But efforts have been made and we have noted them. The Olympic Games will be an opportunity for many French people to discover the Île-de-France between the two events. And many Île-de-France residents will want to get away from the crowds and noise of the Olympic Games.

Most of the destinations we offer – for example, to the Bergerie Nationale de Rambouillet – are located less than a 20-minute walk from the nearest transport stop. We give all the “tips” to go easily from Paris to Fontainebleau, to take your bike on the TER, in short to encourage people to travel throughout the region without pollution. We explain all the initiatives – from small artisans to the Climate Academy and a little-known museum – that make it possible to practice ecotourism and balance the energy balance a little during this event.

How did you make your selection?

The Tao guides apply a very broad grid of criteria. For restaurant addresses, I would have at least 25, but those are not eliminable. This can range from the origin of the products offered on the menu (we talk about “sourcing”) to the way staff are recruited. I’m thinking of the Troisième café in the Marais which works with people in reintegration and provides free meals to the most disadvantaged, or the solidarity café. Other addresses will be very careful of short circuits.

What are these treasures that are “exotic yet ethical” that you mention in your introduction?

I can mention La Roche in Gambais, Yvelines: a delicious restaurant and bed and breakfast that offers exceptional cuisine by a Franco-American chef using very local products. Her husband has created a beautiful list of only natural wines. In Bagneux (92), I recommend the “World’s Smallest Circus” (that’s its name). A permanent marquee that alternates between circus shows and “Baraka Fridays”, where associations come together to represent the diversity of Balneoninese culture.
In Seine-et-Marne, Senja, A small house, Run by a couple who follow the concepts of slow tourism , It accommodates up to 4 people and is designed from locally and organically sourced materials. Just a short distance away, you can stroll along the banks of the Marne. It’s 60 miles from Paris and we’re completely out of place! In Paris, I like to go recycling (18th century) which typically offers workshops to learn how to repair or recycle your bike or your transistor radio while sipping tea in a deck chair on the old railway line.

Is it expensive? Ethical travel is often not accessible to all budgets. And Paris is not considered a cheap destination.

As for accommodation, I had some difficulty proposing a first series of offers for less than 110 euros. But there are some! For example, in Paris, the Solar Hotel (from 109 euros for a room, including organic breakfast) is not only 100% eco-responsible, but its prices are also very reasonable. In the rest of the area tourists can try their hand at camping or WWOOfing (Who provides room and board in exchange for work, editor’s note) On the fields. In terms of food, I cite several solidarity restaurants that systematically offer prices according to your capacity, without asking for proof. As far as activities go, you can discover cultural and natural Paris without leaving a hand in your pocket. Many enthusiasts offer tours of the neighborhood, in hats…

As far as swimming in the Seine, do you really think that will be possible this summer?

As far as swimming in Paris goes, unfortunately I can’t give you an answer! NGO Surfrider Foundation has done recently declared pessimistic, As far as I understand, there is a real possibility that in 2025 Parisians will be able to swim in the river in three or four well-defined places. But is it an end in itself? Are there not more important ecological goals behind this symbol? We are in an industrial basin of twelve million people, it is not unusual that we cannot swim there. On the other hand, I recommend swimming in the Seine in the rest of Île-de-France. For example, in Thomery near Fontainebleau: the place is charming. I also remind you that there are many places to navigate. By canoe, kayak or electric boat, taking the Canal de l’Ourcq from the Bassin de la Villette, you can travel about twenty kilometers!

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