You wouldn’t believe what is happening in the uplands of Limousin, France. Deep in the undulating forests and picturesque gorges north of Saint-Privat, hides an eco-revolution. It takes the shape of Chateau De Camiller, a rustic 17th-century holiday home with all the modern amenities you’d expect from a luxury French chateau rental. It might not be the kind of place where you’d picture a pioneering project in sustainability – but that’s exactly whats happening in this chateau and on its grounds.
The Eco Chateau project is an ongoing scheme, spearheaded by owner Ruth Phillips, whose goal is to create an ecologically responsible and self-sustaining village on the grounds of Chateau De Camiller. Parts of the 32-acre estate will be converted into 22 off-grid eco-homes as well as 24 studios and cabins. These projects will utilise existent structures on the site but also create a whole new set of buildings that integrate the natural surroundings without impacting them.
These plans are both ambitious and admirable. Covering everything from design through to the construction of the new domiciles – with styles ranging from invitingly snug “Hobbit-houses” to converted barns and forest cabins – Ruth pays attention to every detail. The eco-village is being built using natural materials such as wood, stone and cob in order to reduce their impact on the environment both practically and aesthetically. The little homes will also incorporate integrated and ecologically-responsible energy and heating systems.
The eco-village will be much more than a living space. It will incorporate everything members need to live comfortably and healthily, without overriding dependence on modern utilities and methods of production. Those who join the initiative can look forward to swimming pools, creative spaces, tended gardens to grow food and therapy treatment rooms. There will even be a gourmet vegan restaurant to showcase the abundance of fresh, organic ingredients grown on the estate, and a shop selling crafts and clothing produced on-site.
Those who want to join the co-operative can choose to either build their own homes or have the work done for them by a team of professional builders, albeit for a moderately larger cost. Seeing as the price of the building materials is factored into the buy-in fee, we’d be more than tempted to roll up our sleeves and give house-building a go. Not only would you be able to enjoy the unique satisfaction of having built your own home, it’d also be a great opportunity to get to know your future neighbours. Community is one of the central concepts of the village, so getting to know everyone can only be a good thing – not to mention handy if you need a little help putting your walls up or wiring your kitchen!
But you don’t have to commit your time and money (if you’re a little short of both) to enjoy the unique surroundings and self-sufficient charm of the eco-village. Chateau de Camiller will continue to accommodate guests in its elegant interior (which will also be getting an eco-friendly upgrade over the next couple of years). Various homes in the eco-village itself will be available to rent as well. Not only will you get the chance to stay in an ecologically-sound environment (or Hobbit house!), you’ll also be given the chance to learn how the village itself operates. You’ll get to try your hand at some of the day-to-day tasks and get involved with the village’s crafts and culture side. As far as holiday experiences go, it’s not only unique but also enlightening to realise the true potential of eco-tourism. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on developments at Chateau De Camiller, and we’ll add any new and exciting experiences to our listings as soon as they’re available.
If you’d like to contact Ruth about the Eco Chateau initiative, you can email here by clicking here, and you can get a closer look at Chateau De Camiller on our site, as well as our full range of luxury chateaux and villas in France!