Archive for July, 2010

Tour de France: Bike Like a Champ

Pavillon de la Reine

With Tour de France competitors recently whizzing through Provence and on to Paris, France is undoubtedly the European destination for cyclists.

Pedaling in the shoes of those wiry gods may seem daunting to us mere mortals, but we can’t deny that watching them slog up hill and down dale is a sight to behold!

Here are some options for those wishing to get up close and personal with the Tour de France, no training necessary.

Provence

A trip to the summit of Mount Ventoux is a must. Considered one of the toughest climbs of the Tour de France, it is only included in the route every two years. This year, the cyclists catch a break and bypass the mountain but fans won’t miss out as the route doesn’t deviate too much, with the Sisteron – Bourg-les-Valences leg passing nearby.

Where to stay:

Hotel Crillon Le Brave, Provence

Hotel Crillon Le Brave

Overlooking vineyards and olive groves, this refined-rustic hotel offers expansive views of Mount Ventoux and is only a 90 minute drive from the Start and Finish lines of the Sisteron – Bourg-les-Valences leg. The five star 32-bedroom property consists of seven beautifully restored stone houses, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, that are linked by bridges, cobblestone walkways and hidden courtyards.  A mini-spa, heated swimming pool, authentic cuisine and nearby tennis court round out the hotel’s amenities.

Ø  Cycling enthusiast bonus: Guests can embark on their own excursion through the historic village with the hotel’s complimentary bicycles. BYO yellow t-shirt.

Paris

The Champs Elysees is a world-class finish line in so many ways… Not only will Tour de Francers finally see the last of the checkered flags here, but it is of course the be-all and end-all when it comes to shopping and dining in the highest of style!

Where to stay:

Pavillon de la Reine

The recently renovated ivy-clad 54-room hotel was originally built in the 1600s as part of the Place Royal by King Henry IV. Discreetly luxurious, Pavillon de la Reine is the only hotel on the historic Place des Vosgesin the Marais district.  The interiors are a brilliant combination of antiques and sleek contemporary design – cozy but stylish; sophisticated but comfortable.

Ø  Cycling enthusiast bonus: The hotel’s unparelled concierge service can arrange cycling tours around Paris.

Pavillon des Lettres (website launching this month)

Opening this fall, the boutique luxury hotel combines arts, literature and fine design. Each of the 26 rooms represent a letter of the alphabet and an international writer corresponding to that letter. Think H for Hugo and B for Balzac. Text from the corresponding author’s book will be painted above the bed and a hard copy of the book can be found on the nightstand, next tot the Ipad which will be loaded with international bestsellers.

Ø  Cycling enthusiast bonus: Located in the 8th arrondissement, the hotel is only 10 minutes away from the Tour de France finish line.

St. Tropez

The mountain passes, the peloton crashes and yellow lycra galore… Oh la la! For those who had enough of the crowds, why not skip the hubbub of the Paris finish line and head south for some R&R instead.

Where to stay:

La Reserve Ramatuelle, St. Tropez

La Réserve Ramatuelle

The spa at La Réserve Ramatuelle – a hillside retreat outside of St. Tropez – offers the ultimate in relaxation. Sometimes the rigor of being a sports enthusiast can be almost as draining as the real thing, so rinse off under a divine jet shower and try a revitalizing La Réserve massage, or a soothing body wrap to recover from the sideline stress. After a day in the spa, watch the sun set over the sea while enjoying a plate of delicious, diet-friendly, Mediterranean cuisine.

Ø  Cycling enthusiast bonus: Return home looking like you might have cycled the race yourself after completing La Réserve’s Six Day Program, which focuses on weightloss, sculpting, and revitalizing the body through spa treatments and light activity, such as yoga. Or, guests can choose from a menu of à la carte Crème de la Mer beauty treatments.

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Natural Make-Up for Eco-Goddesses

Stript Vegan Make-Up

Plant vs. Paraben.

Natural vs. Toxic.

We came across a little company called Stript about two years ago – back when we were moonlighting for DAYSPA Magazine.

We thought, “Eco-friendly, well-designed, full of great colors, and they’re perfect for the eco-adventurer in all of us.” So, we’re filling our loyal readers in on the secret… one of our favorite Vegan make-up lines.

We especially like their one-of-a-kind Stript lipstick liner crayons which allow you to save the steps (and the cost) by lining and filling lips using a single component. The ultra-hydrating formula is naturally scented with aromatic hints of vanilla extract and almond, two deliciously puckable scents.

Here’s the upshot.  Parabens are F.D.A. approved synthetic food and cosmetic ingredients used as a preservative to stabilize products that contain water and to inhibit the growth of bacteria. At Stript Cosmetics, they’re replacing synthetic preservatives with natural alternatives called Natural Broad Spectrum Microbial Growth Inhibitors.  Derived from plants, they’re all natural and include Plantservative (Japanese Honeysuckle), Naticide (derived from the almond plant), and luminara digitata (marine algae), renowned for being rich in antioxidant vitamins. How cool is that?

FYI –  The most commonly used parabens are methyparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben so avoid them (and go get Stript).

For information:

www.striptmakeup.com

To purchase:

www.beautycollection.com/Brands/Stript/

Maine: Inn by the Sea

Sarah Breidenbach, Jaunt Magazine

Sarah Breidenbach, Jaunt Magazine

Sarah Breidenbach, one of Eco-Adventurer’s favorite Contributors, currently resides in Taipei, Taiwan. Bringing a well-trained eye to our valued team, as an artist, filmmaker, writer, and social activist, she has lived and worked in Zimbabwe, Mexico, Portland, and Arizona, and has travelled extensively throughout the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Today, she brings us news of an eco-spa in the Northeast, so we’re keen to hear about it. Next up… sexy retreats (and the bizarre spa beat) of Asia.

It’s always been nature’s expansive places, the endless skyscapes and bodies of water, which calm even the deepest reservoirs of stress within me.

The Inn by the Sea, Maine

From large canyon views to the slopes of massive gorges, that which gives perspective to your size seems to quiet the mind.  So you can imagine my excitement when I heard of an eco-spa that could do just that without having to trek all over the map.

At Inn by the Sea, located on Crescent Beach in the coastal town of Cape Elizabeth, you can disappear into the ocean itself while surrounded by 4 walls.  To match these four walls are four signature spa treatments inspired by the deep blue sea.   Each treatment was masterfully created so that you can disconnect from the world and reconnect with yourself in a complete coastal experience.

I plan to book the first flight to marine bliss tomorrow, the only problem is how many choices there are.  Maybe I’ll begin with the Sea Waves Massage, other wise known as 90 minutes of a mermaid’s dream come true.  Custom blended oils infused with therapeutic scents are rubbed into your body via hand strokes skillfully synchronized to an ocean soundtrack.  Meanwhile the ocean floor, or massage table, gently vibrates beneath you as the mundane world slips away all together.  These good folks are not afraid to access technology for optimal relaxation navigation.

Inn by the Sea: Eco-Spa

But how could I pass up the 90 minute Deep Sea Soother that begins with a full body dry brush and must leave your whole body feeling as good as bare feet sunk into soft, exfoliating, warm sand?  This is followed by a full body massage after which you’re wrapped in a warm aromatherapy cocoon.  You can even experience this one lying next to your lover or without ever leaving your room.  Both options have “return to the womb” written all over them, but I still can’t decide.  Lucky for me, they’ve created the Sea-Sational Combo which combines a 45 minute body scrub and one hour massage so I don’t have to miss anything.

This amazing hotel and luxury eco-spa is just minutes from Portland and has been selected as one of Tripadvisor’s Top Ten Green Hotels worldwide and Top 100 Hotels in US & Canada by Travel & Leisure.  We at Eco-Adventurer are grateful that deep sea diving just got a lot more convenient and includes a plush white bathrobe.

www.innbythesea.com

African Safari: Save the Cheetah!

Little Namibian Cheetah (Ain't he precious?)

Namibia became all the rage when Brangelina were off galavanting around the dunes, but there’s another reason one ought to jet thee to Namibia.

Cheetahs!

Yes, they’re in need of a little protection and your tourist dollars will help protect them and their natural habitat. Sometimes spending money really is a good thing.

Baobab Expeditions, celebrating their new partnership with the Cheetah Conservation Fund, where research, conservation and education efforts are helping to save the endangered cheetah, are leading an exhilarating and inspiring 12-day journey  (for only $5,967* per person) and , for your participation, a donation from Baobab will be made to the Fund for each participant on the safari.

Arriving in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, guests are met by Baobab’s top -notch guides and driven north to the Frans Indongo Lodge, a charming farmhouse modeled on traditional Ovambo homesteads. A highlight of the journey comes on the second day with a full-day visit to the Fund’s International Research and Education Centre in Otjiwarongo where visitors are shown the value of sustainable practices to save the cheetah and where they are able to view this elusive animal.

Sexy African Safari Camp Pool

The next day, the group journeys northward toward Etosha National Park, one of Africa’s largest game reserves and a great animal sanctuary with a wide diversity of wildlife and bird species.

The Park is a complex of salt pans left from a lake 3 million years ago with many watering holes where game gather. Visitors have extensive game viewing here on days four and five.  Accommodations for the two nights are at Andersson’s Camp and at Mushara Bush Camp.

From Etosha, the travelers make their way to the Kavango Region on the border of Angola. The broad flood plains of the Kavango River make the area considerably greener than the rest of Namibia. Five tribes live along this river, each with a traditional chief.  Tonight, the travelers stay at the Hakusembe Lodge, consisting of ten spacious chalets in an eclectic blend of traditional African and modern art work. Arrival at the Lodge will be in time for a late afternoon boat cruise on the River.

The Mhango Game Park on the Okavango River is one of Namibia’s most diverse and interesting conservation areas.  Two nights are spent at the Nunda Safari Lodge with plenty of time to enjoy game drives in the Game Park and a boat cruise on the river.

Mazambala Bungalow Lodge - Exterior

Moving closer to Zambia, the next stop is the Bwabwata National Park, soon to be part of the world’s largest Trans-Frontier Conservation Area that will include Namibia, Botswana, Angola and Zambia and will rehabilitate wildlife populations virtually destroyed by poaching in the past.  The itinerary includes two days in Bwabwata with more game drives, guided walks, boat trips and birding.  Accommodation is at the Mazambala Island Lodge, a bungalow lodge built with bricks, reeds and thatched roofs.

On Day 11, the group makes its way to Katima Mulilo, the regional capital of eastern Caprivi and from there, they  cross the bridge into Zambia and the town of  Livingstone and Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River.  The Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world and there are other activities nearby such as bungee-jumping, white river rafting, and helicopter rides over the Falls.  Accommodations are at the Zambezi Waterfront  Lodge.

The journey ends in Victoria Falls on Day 12 with the option to stay on at one’s own expense. The $5,967 rate includes all accommodation, transfers, meals, safari guide and entrance fees and excusions where specified in the itinerary.  The rate is based on the exchange rate between the South African Rand and the US dollar on 06/22/10.  The rate is per person based on two persons sharing with a minimum of 12 guests on the tour. Not bad for an African extravaganza that helps to save one of life’s greatest animals.

www.baobabexpeditions.com or 516 622 2279

reservations@baobabexpeditions.com

Provence’s Eco-Retreat

Eco House Provence - Aups, France

Off-the-grid and out-of-sight, this little eco-gem perched on a hillside above the medieval village of Aups in Provence, France is one we may not have uncovered had our buddy not been working with the owner!

With incredible views of the the Cote d’Azur, it’s a private retreat for the discrete, reached by an unpaved road and surrounded by 14 acres of forest and a terraced garden of lavender, rosemary, and olive trees.

When we say, “This is what we mean by unplugging and unwinding,” we mean it.

The home/villa/eco-paradise sleeps at least 6 people and consists of two separate buildings. The main house: an old farm that sleeps 4 people in 2 double bedrooms, and a third double bedroom – get this – within a 13th Century chapel (Chapelle St Marc, for all you Francophiles). There’s also a wooden cabin containing a single bed and blow-up mattresses, as well as surf boards, basic gym equipment, and other beach gear.

Another view of the Provence eco-retreat

The best part?

The property is off-grid with energy generated through solar panels and a wind turbine.

Energy is then stored in batteries which provide each of the buildings with a regular, uninterrupted electricity supply. Water is also from the property’s own well (pumped from the ground via a petrol generator).

But don’t let the rustic roots fool you. The house includes a fully equipped kitchen, hot water showers, open fireplaces, and modern amenities like: a DVD player with wide selection of films, an iPOD docking station, a CD player with a music selection, and Wi-Fi (because some of us still can’t be without Facebook for too long).

A bedroom

The Provencal village of Aups, full of fountains and squares shaded by huge palm trees, numerous cafes, restaurants, and shops, is only a 15-minute walk from the house.

Only 15 minutes’ drive north of Aups is the remarkable Gorges de Verdun, Europe’s Grand Canyon, and the stunning Lac St Croix with its countless beaches and clear water where you can swim, sail, kayak and windsurf. The owner also adds: “Kayaking down the gorge on a hot summer’s day is an unbeatable experience.” We believe him.  The beaches of the Mediterranean are just over an hour away (longer in the summer high season), with St. Tropez about 60km.

The village of Aups

Equidistant from 3 different airports- Nice, Marseille, and Toulon– where it takes about 90 minutes max to drive to the house, you can also take the TGV from Paris to Les Arcs which is only 30 minutes drive from the house.

Rates from £500-£700 per week, depending on month and availability.

To see more photos and to rent this eco-adventurer retreat click here.

For more information, contact James Greenshields:

james@ecohouseprovence.co.uk

To find out more about the village of Aups and the surrounding area click here.

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