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The Provence of Nathalie and Pierre‑Gilles Artayet

founders of the eco-responsible hotel Almanarre Plage in Hyères

Nathalie and Pierre-Gilles Artayet have been living in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur for over twenty years and manage  l’Hôtel Almanarre Plage d’Hyères, a 100% “Clef verte” approved ecological establishment with the “Esprit Parc National”. brand They tell us how their hotel started and the places in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur that inspire them..

So how did the idea of the Hôtel Almanarre Plage d’Hyères start?

Thanks to a planetary alignment! Before opening the Almanarre Plage, my husband Pierre-Gilles Artayet and I had an eco-responsible camp site for about ten years. We wanted to launch a new accommodation project – we love having people to stay! – which would allow us to keep the eco-responsible identity which is our entrepreneurial DNA. We wanted something smaller, more “cosy” where we could be closer to our clients and increase our eco-responsible approach.

At the time, we would often go past the hotel which was called l’Hôtel Port-Hélène. We were attracted by its atypical art-deco style architecture, and its ideal location at the entrance to l’Almanarre. It stood like a lighthouse facing the sea. And each time, we were overwhelmed: “That little hotel has real charm!”.

And then, a few weeks after we had sold our camp-site – what a surprise! – we heard that the hotel was for sale. We just couldn’t believe it! It was exactly what we’d been dreaming of! A charming little hotel beside the sea, in this place we loved so much with a lot of work to be done on it!

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Why is our region such a source of inspiration in your day-to-day life? And in your projects?

My husband and I are from the South-West of France but we have been living here for more than 20 years. We know our territory very well: its most beautiful hikes, its producers, its unusual places, its most lovely viewpoints and of course the best spots to see fish or enjoying a splendid sunset… Nothing could give us more pleasure than advising our clients according to what they’re looking for… and seeing them come back to the hotel happy and smiling after some great moments in our region.

We both love setting off to discover all the nooks and crannies of our territory and the people who keep it alive. Provence is home to an incredible variety of landscapes, atmospheres and vegetation. This land gives us an incredible energy to promote a respectful and responsible tourism. To limit as much as possible the environmental impact of our clients’ holidays, we carry out a number of actions inside the hotel itself (solar panels, solar lighting, zero waste approach, ecological maintenance, local and organic breakfast …). But that’s not all: we also offer our clients activities with a low carbon footprint (outdoor sport, well-being and authentic discoveries) with providers who are committed, like us, to the protection of the environment. This year, and this is new, we are even offering them the opportunity to compensate the carbon footprint of their stay for a 100% responsible holiday! And so we’ve come full circle!

What are your top 3 of the most beautiful spots in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur?

  • We are not in the Almanarre – this vast, sandy beach which runs along the Presqu’île de Giens – by chance! We love this place which is so natural and changing, at times a playground for kite-surfers and windsurfers, and at times a mirror or crystal-clear, turquoise water. To walk there, between the sea on one side and the salt marshes on the other, is a pure relaxing moment. And it’s still “the place to be” for sunsets!
  • The cycle paths of the Luberon! When we manage to get away for a day or two, we love riding along them, from one village to another. The light is incredible there too. And we make the most of our time to “fill up” with products from local producers.
  • The Domaine du Rayol, in Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer. This magnificent garden is both a very Mediterranean place and a world tour of plants! We love wandering around it and feeling as if we had been taken off to the end of the world, from one continent to another in just a few steps. I’m a real fan of their bookshop which has a wide choice of nature-, travel- and ecology-related books… I love taking my family and friends who come to visit us and recommend it to my clients.

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And how would you sum up Provence and the Côte d’Azur in one word?

Light.