Thinking Green

Take a trip to lovely Lyon this summer and you’ll discover that the award-winning capital city of the Rh�ne-Alpes is blazing a trail for eco-tourism.

Take a trip to lovely Lyon this summer and you’ll discover that the award-winning capital city of the Rh�ne-Alpes is blazing a trail for eco-tourism.

Take a trip to lovely Lyon this summer and you’ll discover that the award-winning capital city of the Rh�ne-Alpes is blazing a trail for eco-tourism Visit the World Heritage city of Lyon and it won’t take you long to spot one of its most innovative projects – the V�lo’v.This environmentallyfriendly system allows users to pick up a bicycle at one station and drop it off at another. And with more than 300 stations and 4,000 bicycles available for rent, there’s always transport around when you need it. V�lo’v was launched in Lyon in May 2005 – two years ahead of the Velib’ scheme in Paris. With around 100 stations and 2,000 bikes, it was then the first urban bicycle fleet of its kind and it soon became hugely popular, doubling in size.Many Lyon residents now cycle everywhere and the scheme helps visitors see the sights in a low-cost and flexible way. Users need to purchase a short or long term card to use the V�lo’v and can pay using a pin and chip credit card. The first 30 minutes are free and then it only costs €1 an hour. A full network of cyclepaths has also been developed and a further 200 kilometres of cycleways are planned for 2010.For more visit www.velov.grandlyon.com.New perspectiveThe scheme highlights a real revolution in Lyon; a different way of seeing city life that has led to the Rh�ne-Alpes capital winning international environmental awards. This ancient city, dissected by the rivers Rh�ne and Sa�ne has a charming old quarter known as Vieux Lyon and it was named a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1998. The award has led to the launch of many more green initiatives, such as the V�lo’v and the development of the riverbank alongside the Rh�ne.From Lyon’s Parc de la T�te d’Or to the Parc de Gerland, the new embankments along the River Rh�ne have been developed for use by pedestrians, cyclists and rollerbladers offering an unusual way to explore the city. Enjoy a walk along the wooden landing stage set on stilts, or take a break on the Guilloti�re terraces with steps that lead down to the river and enjoy amazing view over the city. Play areas, paddling pools and spots for sunbathing are stylish additions to this friendly meeting place. Bordering the Grande Prairie, a large green space planted with a range of trees and plants, are lines of barges – some of which are bar-restaurants where it’s fun to enjoy a glass of wine with friends. You often see both local residents and tourists making the most of the area for a picnic, a spot of reading or a well-deserved siesta.Visit www.lyonfrance.com for more.Award-winningIn November 2007, the city of Lyon received two international awards in the Liveable Communities Awards held in London. It won first prize in the Enhancement of the Landscape’ category for its Rh�ne embankment development project, and it was judged the second best place to live in the category for cities with a population of up to 750,000 – just pipped to the post by Malmo in Sweden.The LivCom Awards were launched in 1997 and are endorsed by the United Nations’ Environment Programme. LivCom is the world’s only awards competition focusing on best practice regarding the management of the local environment. The objective of LivCom is to improve the quality of life of individual citizens through the creation of liveable communities’. Out of 39 international cities in the competition, Lyon and Johannesburg are the only two cities to have received two awards. Lyon was the first French city to participate in this international competition and win.Visit www.grandlyon.com for more information.Eco theme parkLyon’s green awareness even extends to its attractions. The city’s adventure park Fourvi�re Aventures has become involved in the eco-debate, focusing on environmental conservation and also, because the park is built in a forest setting, on biodiversity. Fourvi�re Aventures opened to the public in March 2008 with a set of new objectives, effectively becoming a theme park dedicated to the environment and sustainable development.Wherever visitors are in the park, whether up in the trees, down on the ground or in the reception area, they can learn more about nature’s secrets and sustainable development. Whilst waiting to be kitted out for the tree top discovery trail, visitors can enjoy the cartoon adventures of Billy and Willy.Up in the trees, visitors can test themselves with a quiz. And back on the ground there’s an exhibition dedicated to sustainable development, with photos taken by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. www.fourviere-aventures.comOn your bikeOther cities in the Rh�ne- Alpes are following Lyon’s lead and implementing the use of bicycles in their centres. Chamb�ry, historical capital of Savoie, was the first French city to get the V�lostation system and developed cycle tracks so visitors and locals alike can discover the centre and its surroundings without using their cars. A total of 55 kilometres of cycleways crisscross the city, from the small Lac Saint Andr� on one side to the Lac du Bourget on the other. The marked tracks within Chamb�ry will guide visitors through the heritage of the city. www.chambery-tourisme.comHarbour coupThe river harbour town of Valence has also been honoured for its eco-tourism. Valence, and its harbour, Epervi�re, is the largest river harbour in France, and has been awarded the Pavillon Bleu d’Europe award for its dynamic environmental management and efforts towards sustainable tourism. It won the award in 2005 and since then has carried on efforts and actions for ecotourism and environmental protection.www.drome-portdeplaisance.comand  www.valencetourisme.com