Organic Farming in the Rh�ne-Alpes

The Rh�ne-Alpes is a pioneer of organic farming. Why not enjoy the region’s lovely countryside and sample the delicious array of organic produce on offer along the way?

What could be more natural than finding yourself in the countryside, in a protected environment, enjoying stunning landscapes and eating organic products? Wherever you are in Beaujolais, along the Rh�ne, Ain or Loire valleys, there is always something to be discovered and tasted. And there is plenty of accommodation on offer. Choose from an eco-guesthouse or Clef Verte label campsite, they are all here to help you enjoy a green’ stay. The Dr�me is the first bio d�partement in the Rh�ne-Alpes region, with more than 500 farms over 20,000 hectares, dedicated to organic farming.

Around 315 producers and four per cent of the department’s farming area is committed to organic farming (one per cent at a national level). The Rh�ne-Alpes region is the leading producer of bio products and offers a large choice of foods produced using this farming technique including fruit and vegetables, wine, meat, poultry and dairy.

Whether in local markets, on visits to producers or in restaurants, visitors can taste these quality organic foods, which have been produced with careful consideration for the environment. Here is a selection of the very best in organic food and cosmetics from around the region.

Delicious chocolate

Fa�on Chocolat in Crest in the Dr�me is a magical place, the only one of its kind, producing organic chocolate by traditional methods. All the products are made from organically grown ingredients. Cocoa comes from excellent South American beans which are then ground over a long period, eliminating the lecithin and bringing out the natural aromas, to form cocoa paste. All the chocolates are made by hand, with no added fat or other additives, using organic fair-trade ingredients. Rochers, chocolate bars, exotic chocolates, chocolate with dried fruit, fruit-flavoured black chocolate… At the chocolate factory you can watch chocolates being made from pure cocoa beans without the addition of dairy butter, cream, milk or lecithin.

A magical chocolate experience… and what’s more, it’s good for you! www.latelierduchocolatier.com

Aromatic coffee

Couleur Caf� Torr�faction in Saint-Romain-le-Puy in the Loire, is a little shop, with amazing aromas, where coffee beans are roasted by traditional methods according to the Qualit� France-certified organic production standards. Obviously the roasting process is an essential part of producing coffee, allowing the wonderful aromas to be released. The result: a high quality coffee, that encourages organic farming, fair-trade and local traditions at the same time. www.couleurcafebio.com

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Great cheese

Organic AOC Picodon is a speciality cheese made from unpasteurised goat’s milk that comes from the Dr�me and the Ard�che. Every year on the third Sunday in July, the F�te du Picodon is held at Saou in the Dr�me to celebrate this delicious cheese. On the Sagne-Rousseyre farm in Lanarce, in the Monts d’Ard�che, Evelyne Hernandez makes organic cheese from the milk produced by her flock of 50 goats: picodons, pure goats’ tommes and chevretons. Bearing the AB label denoting their organic status, the cheeses, made from pure goats’ milk, are produced following strict guidelines controlled by Ecocert. They also come under the Picodon AOC appellation but are, above all, traditional products of the local terroir. Buy from the farm or online. www.fromage-chevre.com

Organic beer

The Brasserie du Pilat in  Saint-Julien-Molin-Molette in the Loire, produces seven traditional beers, all 100 per cent organic (certified by Ecocert, label AB) plus special edition and seasonal beers with organic producers in the region (such as Christmas beer and beer made from Pilat wild fruit). The organic beers are brewed traditionally, using spring water from the Monts du Pilat along with malts, hops and spices that are all produced by certified organic producers. The brewery is open to the public. www.brasseriedupilat.com

Special wine

Domaine Paire in Ternand in the Rh�ne is based in the Beaujolais des Pierres Dor�es. Here, winegrower Jean-Jacques Paire, produces Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais Rouge Tradition, Beaujolais cuv�e vieilles vignes, Beaujolais Blanc and Beaujolais Ros� in a fivehectare vineyard. His wines are made from grapes that will soon be totally organic, as certified by Ecocert. He does not use weed killers and he has planted two types of ground cover: white mustard and bluegrass. In 2002, Jean-Jacques Paire opened the Mus�e du Vigneron en Beaujolais which explains the history of vine growing and wine production. It also contains an interesting collection of tools. The visit ends with a tasting! www.paire.fr

Beauty & wellbeing

When it comes to beauty and cosmetics, the Rh�ne-Alpes region is home to some renowned brand names. Sanoflore in Gigors-et-Lozeron in the Dr�me was founded in 1972 within a new experimental garden in the southern part of the Vercors Natural Regional Park, a protected area boasting an abundance of wild aromatic plants and flowers. Five years later, the Sanoflore farm began developing its first organic crops and this was quickly followed by the move to the transformation stage (drying and distilling) and to creating a network of producers of dried plants, essential oils and floral waters. In 1986 a dynamic team of multi-talented people set up the Sanoflore laboratory, which has proved to be a real advantage for the farm and its associate growers in terms of research, development, production and sales. The finished products are sold through various different outlets that share the same basic values: to use only plantbased raw materials  and to favour organic plant ingredients. Today the Sanoflore laboratory still sells its plant-based raw material wholesale, produces and sells herbal ranges, aromatherapy, plant-based cosmetics and natural perfumes under the label Bio. Le Domaine des Ar�mes is open to the public, giving visitors the chance to watch both the production and offering a trail through the botanic garden as well as a shop. www.sanoflore.net

Natural passion

The history of the Melvita laboratory is synonymous with a passion for beekeeping held by two brothers, Bernard and Philippe Chevilliat. Originally from Bordeaux, these two biologists initially specialised in products from their hives before turning their attention to the development of gentle cosmetics. Established in Lagorce in the Ard�che scrubland, not far from Vallon Pont d’Arc, Melvita has developed and produced high quality cosmetics since 1983 and today it is a market  leader. On a national level, in 2002 it was one of the first laboratories to be awarded the Ecocert label. Today the products are sold through more than 1,000 outlets in France and the company is increasing its market share in Europe, America and Asia. One of the projects for the future is a model factory open to the public with spa and shop. www.melvita.com

Thermal spa

A new 2,000 square metre wellbeing centre and spa was opened in March 2007 at the thermal spa in Montbrun-les-Bains. The site has a thermal pool, steam room, sauna and panoramic terrace with Jacuzzi. The centre, in the Dr�me Proven�ale, was built to exacting environmental standards which reflect the centre’s focus on combating global warming. The site has an innovative system that harnesses heat from the waste hot water which has led to energy savings of 50 per cent. www.valvital.eu