In summer it’s all about getting together and enjoying alfresco dining, but autumn is a more intimate season. As the heat of summer gives way to cool dawns, the light starts to fade. The green leaves of forests are tinged with shimmering colours. Some mornings, the mist lends a mystical air to the meadows… Autumn is a great time to take a relaxing break in the heart of nature. We highlight 6 eco-friendly hotels that are designed to minimise their impact on the environment. What’s more - they are tranquil, harmonious, and focused on the well-being of guests and the biodiversity that surrounds them. These six special stays promise to immerse you in nature, ideal for reconnecting with the elements.
Le Bruit de l'Eau eco lodges, the Bay of Somme
Just a few kilometers from the Natural Reserve of the Bay of Somme and the internationally renowned Marquenterre wild bird park, Le Bruit de l'Eau (which means the sound of water) is a hidden gem. The owner is a photographer who, inspired by the natural beauty of the area, created this eco hotel. It features a hectare of meadowlands, ponds, and a secret forest. Le Bruit de l'Eau offers a range of unusual and relaxing accommodation including: a room overlooking a river which you reach by boat; a geodesic dome (eco-built in the local region, Hauts de France) - perfect for stargazing; a Japanese-style room with a private hammam in the heart of nature; and finally, a summer dojo, open to the forest, which can be transformed into a meditation room as the days get cooler. The menu is vegetarian and takes Japanese cuisine as its inspiration. Finally, on a small island in the heart of the forest, there is a Furô-Oké - a wood-fired Japanese bath, heated to 40°C perfect for relaxing alone or as a couple.
Loire Valley Lodges, in the Loire Valley
In the heart of the Touraine forest in the Loire Valley, close to the great city of Tours and the Loire Castles you’ll find Loire Valley Lodges. Hidden in the forest, 18 wooden cabins, on stilts 4 meters high, sit amongst the treetops. A large, renovated farmhouse hosts a bar, restaurant and library, as well as activities such as yoga and sophrology sessions. The wooden lodges are filled with light from their huge picture windows. Each terrace has a jacuzzi – and there’s no need to go to a spa, masseurs come to your lodge to create a moment of blissful relaxation. Anne-Caroline Frey, the founder of the Loire Valley Lodges, previously worked in the contemporary art world and has brought her passion for art to life here where she has created a permanent exhibition space for artists, whose works hang between the trees.
L'Ostalas Hotel, Tarn department
When Brigitte and François were looking for a home in the Tarn for their large extended family – they fell head over heels for a farm! Within months, their project to transform the Domaine L'Ostalas, a former organic farm, changed their lives. Now L’Ostalas, set in the foothills of Quercy is a 12-room eco hotel focusing on well-being and nature. Guests come here to breathe the pure air, to relax and take time to recharge their batteries – at one with nature. The hotel is adult-only (minimum age 16 years old) to ensure tranquility for guests. Each day, three wellness activities are offered free of charge to guests including yoga, Tui Shou (a form of Tai Chi), relaxation, sophrology, qi jong and walks in the forest. In the hotel’s kitchen, chef François takes inspiration from Ayurveda to created vegetarian and organic dishes. 100% relaxation is assured!
Instants d’Absolu eco lodge and spa, Auvergne
Laurence Costa and her husband moved from the Alps to the heart of Cantal in the Regional Nature Park of the Volcanoes of Auvergne after falling in love with the area. In creating their hotel, they took on the challenge to revive nature while preserving the precious ecosystem around a silted lake, 1150 meters above sea level. There are 12 rooms (including a suite and a junior suite) and a spa. Set in the heart of a wild and unspoiled area of great natural beauty, there are many activities on offer to you: reiki, art therapy, star gazing and more ... Every stay is tailor-made, with guests able to choose the activities of their dreams. The menu features local produce and homemade cuisine. And the spa also has a colour therapy bath. It really is magical.
Les Echasses eco lodges, in the Landes forest
Close to the great beaches of the Basque Country, in the heart of a typical Landes pine forest, Les Echasses is an unusual eco-designed hotel, organized around a lake with seven "modges", eco lodges on stilts. Each has a living area of 50 m2 equipped with a cosy wood stove. Sitting in a rocking chair or enjoying an aperitif and platter of local products on the private terrace overlooking the calm water is one of life’s great pleasures. The hotel promotes local producers, and the menu also features food grown in the vegetable garden and the orchard of Les Echasses, as well as natural wines of Aquitaine. At the end of the day, indulge in the pleasure of a wood fire heated hot tub with a lakeside view – relaxation guaranteed!
La Grée des Landes Hotel, Brittany
In the enchanting village of La Gacilly, you will spot the name Yves Rocher everywhere. The French cosmetics brand founder was born here. Today the company is run by his son, Jacques, and the brand remains loyal to La Gacilly. Here in 2009, in the heart of Morbihan, Jacques Rocher fulfilled a dream his father had – to build an eco-hotel that sits in harmony with its surroundings. La Grée des Landes has 33 rooms (including three suites and a treehouse) that are truly in accord with nature. The hotel features green roofs, rainwater harvesting and bat nesting boxes. Everything has been designed to minimise the impact of the building on the environment. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t luxurious. Grée des Landes also has an Yves Rocher spa, indoor pool, open-air relaxation area, and botanical garden. And it’s perfect for strolling in the wild paradise of the Marais de Glénac. The hotel’s gastronomic restaurant features locally grown organic produce as well as a super vegetarian menu. Surrounded by 10 hectares of moors and forests, this is a wonderful place to enjoy a relaxing walk.
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