La Basse Cour: B&B near Alencon, Normandy
Normandy B & B : Green Tourism
Ecotourism: a Green Bed and Breakfast in Normandy
Environmental and Green Policies
Wildlife and Ecology
The gardens are designed to encourage wildlife - we avoid the use of chemicals on plants, we hang bird feeders in winter and provide nest boxes for various species (woodpeckers, tits, robins, wrens etc.) as well as allowing swallows, swifts, sparrows, starlings and redstarts to nest in the eaves, nooks and crannies of our outbuildings. Mallards, little grebes and moorhens make their homes in the bullrushes and reed beds we have planted around the wildlife pond of 2500m2, and on the long, warm days of summer the surface of the little lake is abuzz with damselflies and dragonflies.
Bats are regular visitors and can be seen feeding on the wing at twilight from spring to autumn and occasionally in winter. In 2010 we built and installed a bat box on the south wall of the main barn and there is a permanent roost in the upper reaches of the small barn.
La Basse Cour is a designated LPO Bird Sanctuary. The LPO is the 'Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux', the French equivalent of the British Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
There are several wildflower areas and all parts of the garden are managed to encourage bees and other insect life. Resident toads and hedgehogs keep down the slug and snail populations.
Our waterside copse of mixed trees (alder, birch, elder, oak) and the specially planted native hedgerows provide food and cover for blackbirds and thrushes, whilst walnuts and hazelnuts are left for the wildlife to forage (these include native red squirrels).
Heating from carbon-neutral, sustainable sources
Most of our heating in winter comes from a wood-fired boiler for central heating, using wood from sustainable, managed woodland in the Forest of Perseigne, which is in sight of our home. We reduced wood consumption by 35% in winter 2009-2010 thanks to a combination of double glazing and the completion of wall insulation in 2009.
Energy and Water Conservation
We have installed double glazing and low energy light bulbs throughout the house, walls and ceiling cavities are heat insulated and rooms are well sound-proofed.
All domestic appliances are AAA energy rated.
Water for the garden is drawn from a well and is used only for the vegetable plot.
We reduced our electricity consumption by 25% between 2007 and 2009, and our water consumption by 20%.
Other "Green" Measures
We grow our own organic vegetables and are largely self-sufficient in this respect. Other food produce is sourced locally wherever possible, including breakfast produce such as croissants, bread etc. which are collected by bicycle each morning.