Special Report: Villages Nature embodies Paris climate deal

Special Report: Villages Nature embodies Paris climate deal

A joint venture between Disney and Pierre & Vacances will set new standards in resort sustainability. Lee Hayhurst reports

A new holiday park concept devised by Disney and French resort operator Pierre & Vacances promises to set new standards in sustainability.

Villages Nature Paris, located just 20 miles east of Paris and four miles from Disneyland Paris, has been described as a “next‑generation” sustainable tourism destination.

When operating at full capacity it will cater for up to one million visitors a year while minimising its environmental impact and optimising the social and economic impact on the local area.

Behind the concept is British expertise in sustainability in the form of Bioregional, a specialist consultancy headquartered in Wallington, London.

It has worked with Villages Nature to devise a ‘One Planet Living’ action plan setting out the principles by which the resort has been constructed and will operate.

The concept has been a decade in the making and this summer the 259-hectare park will open to visitors for the first time and is available for agents to book through Super Break.

Pooran Desai, OBE, international director for Bioregional, said: “The vision over 10 years ago was to create an experience that would be transformative for guests and show how people and nature can exist in harmony.

“It has been a heroic journey to get to this stage. I am sure there will be more challenges in the coming months up until the opening, but there is no doubt that this project will be one of the most important sustainable development projects in the world.

“With the Paris Agreement on Climate Change now coming into force, what better expression of the spirit of the agreement than a project like Villages Nature Paris? We applaud everyone involved for their vision and foresight and look forward to the opening in 2017.”

‘Green’ principles have been embedded into the construction of the resort, with low-energy- consumption accommodation appliances, ecological roofs that help to recycle rainwater and use of Forest Stewardship Council certified timber and non-toxic paints and floors.

One of the more eye-catching environmental features of the resort is its use of geothermal energy that will not only heat the park’s open-air lagoon to 30C but provide energy for the entire resort.

Eventually it is envisaged that excess energy produced by the resort will be used by the local region (or department) and in Disneyland Paris hotels.

This focus on using local resources extends to its use of French timber in construction of the resort and sourcing food locally as well as staff who will work in the park.

Among Villages Nature’s five ‘immersive worlds’ is BelleVie Farm, a working organic farm where guests can experience first-hand the life of the farmer and how produce goes from field to fork.

Produce from the farm like dairy, honey and vegetables will be used in items sold in the resort’s many cafes and restaurants.

Visitors enjoying the Extraordinary Gardens world inspired by the four elements – earth, water, wind and fire – will be encouraged to engage with park staff , or ‘artisans’ as they are known, who will offer horticultural tips and advice.

Visitors of all ages will also be encouraged to immerse themselves in the Forest of Legends, a wilder natural world for imaginative play including den and treehouse building, fairy tales and folklore.

The kids’ club and activity programme will also promote topics such as biodiversity, gardening and One Planet Living interactive games.

On and off-site, Villages Nature will promote green, low-carbon transport options including a shuttle from the nearby Eurostar train station at Chessy, and guests will be offered a transport app to plan their journey.

Marie Balmain, head of sustainable development at Pierre & Vacances Center Parcs Group, said: “Since the inception of this project, the One Planet Living framework has helped us consider not only environmental performance but also all the economic and social benefits Villages Nature Paris can bring to local communities and its stakeholders.

“As we prepare to open, we continue to strive to deliver an inspiring experience that creates a positive vision for our future.”


Win a stay at the new park

To mark the opening of Villages Nature Paris and as part of Travel Weekly’s special focus on sustainable travel, we are offering our readers and their family the chance to win a stay at the new park.

The prize is for up to four people with accommodation in a two-bedroom cottage for three nights and cross-Channel return ferry crossing with P&O Ferries. To be in with a chance of winning, watch the Villages Nature video below and answer the following question:

Q. What are the names of the three types of accommodation on sale at Villages Nature Paris?

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