Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Marketing yawn

There are three key ideas that enchant the French at the moment: socialism (often expressed as solidarité), green consumerism (éco, for écologique) and organic foods (bio).  Politicians' antennae are, of course, exquisitely tuned to detect what they can get away with without causing a revolution.  The CSG is a tax you pay on all your income, over and above income and capital gains taxes, introduced as a "temporary" measure in 1990.  The "S" stands for sociale.  The ISF is the wealth tax; the "S" in this case stands for solidarité.

A hare-brained scheme to hike the electricity prices for those who "overconsume" was prompted by the fact that the electricity distribution network here is full to overloaded, but was announced as an ecological measure.  And so on.

There is a holiday campsite near us, recently opened and based around disused lime kilns and their associated limestone quarries now filled with water.  It calls itself echologia, presumably to make us think it's eco-friendly, rather than (say) that the lakes are filled with E. Coli.  They were having some kind of open weekend, with hot-air ballon rides (not eco-friendly at all) and radio-controlled model aircraft  (also not eco-friendly).  We went to take a look.

So, it's a holiday campsite built around disused lime kilns and lakes.  It's been nicely renovated in parts, and the log cabins beside the lakes (and those actually floating on the lakes) look attractive if you want a basic holiday in the country.  There are yourts and teepees in a field that you can rent if you prefer.  Onsite there is also a restaurant by a lake, a shop and snack bar.

The concessions to ecology seemed to be in the dry public toilets (they didn't smell like I feared they might, but don't look down) and in a wet sewage treatment system using reed beds.  There is a marked path around the site with various informative notices telling us about the wild creatures that live there but that you can't see. They tell us that the collared grass snake is a protected species, but the common hedgehog is apparently very protected (must be the spines).  I did actually learn that another local grass snake is a constrictor, which I would never have guessed, so the pedagogical aspect wasn't entirely wasted.  The views of the lakes were quite spectacular (though if one swims in this one shown, one apparently risks death by hydrocution - a heart attack brought on by sudden immersion in cold water) and the river, where it runs throught the commercial zone, is nicely managed.

There are eco-friendly killing systems that you can try out (costs extra), but the goats are not to be used as targets.  I think they're there for cheese-making.  Or maybe goat-breeding.

As a place to holiday?  I imagine the log cabins are comfortable, but the yourts and teepees are stuck in the middle of a field; not very isoltaed or sheltered. You're not allowed camp fires to cook by your teepee or yourt, the restaurant on site is not cheap, and it's a good 15 minute drive to the nearest McDonald's.

For all I am criticising the place, it was a pleasant afternoon out.  The track around the installation is well-laid out and offers a quiet walk of a couple of kilometers with fantastic views of the lakes and river running through.


James Higham said...

But are they a rival?

Mark In Mayenne said...

James - no, not at all, completely different thing.

Helen Devries said...

Just like here...they think that 'eco' or 'bio' sells, and judging by the prunes who come here on holiday it does. Once.

Steve said...

I'm a sucker for archery. But not if it has suckers.

Mark In Mayenne said...

Yep, éco or bio, does it here too. Lots of politics about animal welfare, or lack of it, abroad, and quality control.

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