“Solar” power in Paris
A winner of the 2010 Responsable Tourism Awards (Trophées du Tourisme Responsable), Solar Hotel is a little gem of a budget hotel hidden in the 14th district of Paris near Denfert Rochereau (just around the corner from the Catacombs of Paris and 10 minutes from Montparnasse)
In fact it is possibly THE cheapest hotel in the whole intra-muros city area at only 59 euros (yes really!) a night per room INCLUDING breakfast… but only if you opt for the organic version. You guessed it, the owner Franck LAVAL is someone who likes to make his point!
We met him to discuss his outlook on life and how he has converted his small budget hotel (previously known as Hôtel des Voyageurs) into a model eco-establishment. He is very active on environmental and social issues, doing interviews with journalists and giving advice and support to other hoteliers interested in following his lead. His credentials in the green movement go back many years and at the entrance to the hotel can be found photos of many of the movers and shakers in today’s french political circles as they attend events at this “ecological, economical and militant” hotel.
There are already signs of the underlying ethics before you even go inside: solar panels over the entrance power the outside lighting and signag; plus there is a big water collector on the pavement collecting rainwater from the drainpipes – used to water the garden in the very pleasant back garden.
Incidentally these were all installed cheekily without going through the normal bureaucratic approvals, but what civil servant is going to risk creating a fuss about such environmental steps? He has also installed a composting system in the garden where they put all their own organic waste and, in a neighbourly way, do the same for the restaurant next door too. All around the hotel are little signs giving hints and tips. The aim is to recycle 90% of all waste and reduce energy usage to the max. Not surprisingly the hotel is holder of the Clef Verte (Green Key) Environmental standard or eco-label. There are other nice little touches too such as bikes for use, encouraging the use of public transport, wifi access in the lobby and free computers in some of the rooms.
The big catch on this hotel is that they are almost always fully booked, so get in early if you want to reserve a room there. The rooms are basic in terms of facilities, but clean and not to repeat myself too much, CHEAP! They do have an annexe a few minutes away if their rooms on site are already taken. The inside tip would be to book at least WELL in advance to be sure, and hence the reason for the timing of this post so early in the season. Booking is easy online – see site address below. Just a note to also expect to make payment when you arrive rather than when you leave, a small price to pay for such a great deal.
22 rue Boulard
english version of site available – just click on the right flag
Tel. : 01 43 21 08 20
Nerest Metro/RER: Denfert-Rochereau