Sustainable camping in the Auvergne

‘Sustainable travel’ is something you hear all the time these days. It is an important topic: how can we make sure that our love of travel and our desire to have great holidays can be met without an undue burden on the environment? Luckily there are all sorts of national and regional initiatives which will at least allow you to make an informed choice. Also if you’re planning on going camping. And where could you do that better than in the Auvergne, the greenest region of France?

Eco-labels: a guarantee of environmental sustainability

At Eurocampings, you can choose from almost 1,000 eco campsites with one or more eco-labels – so you can be sure that the campsite is contributing in some way towards environmental sustainability. For example, they might be careful with the use of water and energy, rubbish may be limited and separated, and there may be solar panels or other environmental amenities.

The most famous of these labels in France is La Clef Verte, and it’s most likely something you’ve already heard of. Another label comes from the Netherlands, the Natuurkampeerterreinen (Natural Campsites). This organisation has been providing the label ‘Natuurkampeerterrein’ to environmentally-friendly campsites in the Netherlands and France for over 40 years.

Camping in an oasis of green

We proudly present to you the greenest region of France, the Auvergne. We’ll also tell you about a few campsites we recommend – all awarded with ecolabels, where you can be sure to enjoy a sustainable camping holiday.

Natural Campsites
The Auvergne region is made up of four ‘departements’: Allier, Cantal, Haute-Loire and Puy-de-Dôme. If you love cycling and bird watching, you need to visit Allier. Do you love cheese? Then go camping in the Cantal. The many rivers in the Haute Loire are full of salmon, and if you want to see volcanoes, you need to head to Puy-de-Dôme. Our colleague Anouk recently wrote two articles about her camping trip in this special part of France.

In the Auvergne, you really feel like you’re camping in an oasis of green. And did you know that it’s home to just 2.5% of the population of France? But you can still find plenty of sustainable campsites. Here are four that we recommend.

1. Camping Pont du Rouffet (Natural Campsites)
This campsite in Saint-Martin-Cantalès in the south of the Auvergne (Cantal) allows you to really relax in peaceful natural surroundings. It’s situated on both a lake and in a forest, far from the inhabited world, and you’ll find it easy to relax here. This campsite has just thirty pitches, so it’s nice and quiet. There’s no entertainment, so in the evenings and at night it’s so quiet you could hear a pin drop – and pitch dark too. In the evenings you’ll be able to enjoy a wonderfully starry sky – and once you go to bed you’ll be certain to get a proper night’s sleep. The owners respect the environment and the sanitary facilities here are sustainable: the toilets and the showers are both designed to save water. They clean the toilet block without the use of chemicals.
Camping Pont du Rouffet (Natural Campsites)

2. Camping Les Vernelles (Natural Campsites)
This five-hectare campsite is part natural campsite and part meadow. The grounds, located in the Allier, are surrounded by several forests. It doesn’t get much more natural than this. The sanitary facilities here are designed to save water, and rubbish is separated. The grounds are cleaned without the use of chemicals. The owners love to cook for their guests, and they use fresh vegetables from their own kitchen garden, as well as free range meat and local products. The old farm (and the barn) that gave their name to the campsite have been converted into a house, gîte and guesthouse. Renovations are done with respect for the rural atmosphere and the authenticity of the surroundings.

3. Camping Trouvé (Natural Campsites)
This campsite in La Crouzille, in the north of the Auvergne, is situated on grounds with just seven pitches. You’ll enjoy a stunning view of the valley. This campsite prides itself on peace and quiet, and plenty of space. The campsite is maintained without the use of chemicals. As well as showers and toilets that save water (and also use natural spring water) the campsite has its own kitchen garden. Something really interesting is that the septic tank uses a water purifying system which purifies waste water through settling.

Camping Trouvé (Natural Campsites)

4. Camping Le Pré Bas (La Clef Verte)
A campsite that proves that bigger campsites (in this case, one with 63 pitches, and 117 holiday rentals) can also be environmentally sustainable. This four-star campsite is right in the middle of the Parc des Volcans d’Auvergne national park, about 870 metres above sea level. The grounds are in a stunning location on Le Lac des Chambon lake. The campsite is very careful with the use of water and electricity. There is also an active policy to separate rubbish and all the guests receive information about sustainability. Something special is that the campsite organises trips to various local producers of meat, cheese and honey – amongst other things. Of course, the campsite restaurant uses local produce in its cooking.

Your little contribution

The sustainable initiatives at green campsites are great of course, but as an environmentally-aware camper, you can also make a contribution whichever campsite you choose. Show off your green credentials at the campsite and don’t use disposable tableware and cutlery, eat less meat (vegetables cooked on the barbecue are delicious too!) and choose to explore the local area by bike or on foot rather than in your car.

Have you ever camped at a sustainable campsite in the Auvergne, or elsewhere in France? Then let us know! Please also get in touch to let us know of any sustainable amenities or initiatives at campsites that you know of.

Jeroen Timmermans
  • Author: Jeroen Timmermans
  • From Calais to Cannes, and from Nantes to Nancy: Jeroen has definitely done his fair share of exploring in France. With his parents and his brother, he spent weeks at the most beautiful campsites in a trailer tent. Then, the family travelled around the rest of Europe in a motorhome. Now he loves his cultural city breaks. He particularly loves funiculars and cable cars.

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