Of the

Liv­ing an en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble life­style was para­mount to Rosie and Si­mon Hill’s move to Nor­mandy where they run a suc­cess­ful eco gîtes business, as Ca­tri­ona Burns dis­cov­ers

Living France - - Lifestyle -

It’s din­ner time in the Nor­mandy coun­try­side and as a rack of home­reared pork cooks slowly in the oven, Rosie Hill crosses the flower-strewn gar­den to her veg­etable patch and picks tonight’s har­vest of new pota­toes, sum­mer cour­gettes and sweet cab­bage.

“It’s all gone in a few min­utes but it’s so good know­ing that it’s my own pro­duce,” Rosie says. “Zero food miles were used to get it, I don’t use any chem­i­cals, so it’s good for the en­vi­ron­ment and it’s good for my health, although my back might not say the same...”

Liv­ing off the land is not just a means of hav­ing a lovely way of life for Rosie, her hus­band Si­mon and their teenage sons, Tom and Ben; this back-to-ba­sics ap­proach is at the core of their eco-friendly gîte business that caters for green hol­i­days in ru­ral Cal­va­dos. For some vis­i­tors, the con­cept of a sus­tain­able life­style is new but Rosie never knew any­thing else.

“I’ve al­ways been an eco per­son,” Rosie ex­plains. “And I’ve al­ways been a gar­dener. My grand­fa­ther had a nurs­ery and I used to fol­low him round – I prob­a­bly drove him mad! I think be­ing green is just in my blood.”

With such green-thumbed be­gin­nings, it was per­haps no sur­prise that when Rosie and Si­mon be­gan to think about start­ing up a hol­i­day rental business, they went down the green route. “We thought it would give us a unique sell­ing point,” Rosie ex­plains.

Not only would their eco ethos shape the prop­erty ren­o­va­tion, it would be a de­cid­ing factor in where they would base them­selves, as Rosie ex­plains: “We wanted to be close enough to Eng­land be­cause we thought most of our customers would be com­ing from the UK and we thought it was a bit daft to come to an eco gîte if you’d hopped on a plane and flown a long way. Ferry travel is quite en­vi­ron­men­tal and we’re only one hour from the ferry port so peo­ple aren’t us­ing huge amounts of fuel.”

Gar­den­ing prac­ti­cal­i­ties also meant that north­ern France was the most sen­si­ble choice. “The cli­mate is sim­i­lar to what it is in the UK so for me the gar­den­ing was the Fac­ing page:

This page: The prop­erty in Nor­mandy is sur­rounded by a large plot of land where the Hill fam­ily keep an­i­mals and grow veg­eta­bles

The house is well in­su­lated to save on en­ergy; a wood burner heats the house

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.