Claire The Green Geekette
Member for 2 years 6 months
Yogi and slow tourism devotee
A ZERO WASTE vacation in a fab holiday cottage
4 minutes ZERO WASTE READING
Take some time off to unwind and to recenter, this is desire that overpowers me when I arrive at the Grange d’Ychippe. As soon as I arrive I feel soothed and comforted by Valérie’s big smile who welcomes me with open arms. Just a couple of minutes later, we’re nursing a nice cool drink and her cosy terrace with plenty of shade and I get to know this surprising and fascinating person better.
A former farm converted into an eco-friendly gîte
Valérie is brimming with enthusiasm when she tells us about her holiday cottage, and when you listen to her talk, you cannot for moment doubt the sincerity of her convictions. And yet, the journey definitely wasn’t a simple one; after welcoming their first few clients who had no respect for the environment at all, Valérie and her husband decided to go ahead and throw themselves into the adventure. They converted their holiday cottage in order to obtain a “Clé Verte” (literally “Green Key” a Belgian eco label), which guarantees guests accommodation with all the modern cons but that is also environmentally friendly. Little by little, this is how a once working farm from 1850 was turned not into a beautiful gîte able to welcome up to 12 guests, as well as a groundbreaking example of environmentally friendly and zero waste accommodation in the area.
Do things passionately and in accordance with your personal convictions, this is Valérie’s laudable mission, she has been committed to sustainable tourism since 2012, and received her eco-friendly label in 2014
With is beautiful tree-filled garden of over 25,000 square meters, an organic vegetable garden and a gorgeous view of the Famenne area and the Ardennes forests, the Grange d’Ychippe is the ideal location to unwind and recharge…I even started fantasising about living in a place like this all year round…Just imagine: filling your basket with fresh chicken eggs from the coop in the morning, let the ducks deal with the parasites in the vegetable patch, not being connected to the sewage system but having your waste water treated by a natural lagoon in the garden…
I could spend hours telling you about the small gestures that Valérie has implemented here. She doesn’t only respect the criteria set by the “Green Key” eco-label, she tries to do better every year. They tend their garden exclusively with eco-friendly products, and their fruit and vegetables are watered with recycled rainwater, they’ve built an insect hotel, and I haven’t told you about the many environment friendly initiatives inside the house
A for the inside of the gîte, it is run and decorated in keeping with Valérie’s environmentally friendly convictions : furniture and interesting knickknacks sourced whenever possible from car boot sales, charity shops and second-hand shops, low-energy light bulbs and – of course – a green energy provider. And the holiday cottage is run entirely on a zero waste basis, but we’ll get back to that later…
the Grange d’Ychippe is the ideal location to unwind and recharge…I even started fantasising about living in a place like…
Here, everything is thought out to make being green easy
Here, you are encouraged to act for the good of the planet even in your choice of transportation to reach the gîte. The cottage also bears the “Bikes Welcome” label which is a cyclist friendly label that makes life easier for cyclists: a closed and secure space store your bicycles, equipment for cleaning your bicycle, a bike repair kit, cycling maps and suggested itineraries for your bike rambles…
Valérie encourages her guests to carpool or to travel by public transport, and even offers to come and pick you up at the railway station if needed. To make travelling by public transport easier, the gîte also has the “Bébé Tendresse”, a baby friendly label which means that a fair amount of what you need is already on the spot (pushchair, foldable baby cot, baby bath, changing table, high baby chair, baby phone, bottle heater…to name but a few) which helps you to travel lightly.
I also appreciated the many board games and books that are available to guests, more specifically in the section devoted to nature, with many books about ecology or discovering our planet, and with cooporative or environmental board games. It’s these little details that really make the difference! Also, before your stay, Valérie offers guests the possibility to order local products from the local cooperative called Cocoricoop, and stores your groceries in the fridge so they are waiting for you when you arrive! Not only do you have more time to relax, but you’ll definitely enjoy the tastes and flavours.
The gîte also has an official baby friendly label which means that a fair amount of what you need is already on the spot
Zero waste holidays
As you have probably gathered, the Grange d’Ychippe holiday cottage really is a haven of peace where you can live in harmony with nature. Just sit in the garden and enjoy the scenery, admire the lush nature and enjoy the pure country air, simple yet essential joys which will leave you feeling totally relaxed.
I really admire Valérie a lot: she’s passionate about her convictions, but without making you feel you’re being forced into anything. With her generous nature and energetic personality, she takes us with her in her zero waste adventure. Here, everything is thought out to limit waste; starting with a small waste sorting area to recycle batteries, bottle caps and corks (cork, metal, plastic), vegetable peels (compost heap), food scraps (egg laying chickens in the garden), and even baby nappies.
For neophytes who want to learn more, you can even take a zero waste workshop during your stay and learn - among many other things - to make your own toothpaste ! Again, there is so much more: Valérie offers to accompany you to her favourite zero waste shops, a list she compiled herself.
Valérie also is a strong believer in solidarity, and she makes a point of encouraging local economy by being in control of her own consumer behaviour. That is how we got to visit the organic zero waste and bulk buy store that recentely set up shop a little less than 2km away from the gîte: it’s a quite extraordinary truck called “La Lagune” (The Lagoon). And you can do a spot of fresh food shopping at the Ferme du Champia farm just opposite. Both are open on evenings from 16:00 to 19:00 (Monday to Friday) and on Saturdays from 10:00 to 18:00.
When we got back to the gîte, we spent a lovely evening cooking tasty yet healthy dishes with organic and locally sourced products. As for the next morning, special mention for the zero waste breakfast and its adorable little pots filled with delicious spreads. I must be honest and confess I have a particular penchant for the speculoos* spread.^^^
*Speculoos is a typical Belgian spiced gingerbread shortcrust cookie
Plenty of activities nearby
If the charming gîte hasn’t succeed in convincing to book your next holiday straight away, I think I’ll just keep on singing the area’s praises by telling you about the activities nearby. At a stone’s throw away, you can visit the Provincial Domain of Chevetogne, a lush park but also a genuine children’s paradise (although adults will love it there too…^^) with tree cabins and thematic playgrounds. I admit: I went back to being a child and had a whale of a time!
And for those looking for a place of reflection and some peace and quiet, I highly recommend a visit to the Saint-Etienne (Saint-Stephen’s) church in Waha, one of the oldest churches in Belgium, which is mainly remarkable because of its absolutely stunning church windows, drawn by the famous Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon. Their fabulous array of bright colours sublimates the beautiful Romanesque church. The area has something to offer everyone, and gives a wonderful feeling of balance and wellbeing, and the locals are welcoming to boot! I felt really at home in the gîte and loved the generosity of the locals, who greeted us with a touching simplicity and heartwarming authenticity…
Enoy this experience
La Grange d’Ychippe Holiday Cottage
Thomas et Valérie Nagant - Van Heer Adresse
rue de Mivau, 44 - 5590 Leignon (Belgium)
Tel : +32 83 61 26 29
More information : www.lagrangedychippe.be
Weekend break, from Friday 17 :00 to Monday 10 :00.
Weekend rates from € 275 to € 395 or from € 395 to € 595, depending on the time of year, for 6 or 12 guests.
Weekly rate from Friday 17 :00 to Friday 10 :00.
From € 360 to € 600 or from € 540€ to € 895, depending on the time of year, for 6 or 12 guests.
Midweek break, from Monday 17 :00 to Friday 10 :00.
From € 275 to € 355 or from € 395 to € 535, depending on the time of year, for 6 or 12 guests.