As we walked past the fragrant heady smell of lavender, alive with dozens of bees, we stopped outside our home for the next few nights, and Monkey squealed with delight. Our wooden cabin at Ecolodge La Belle Verte reminded me of a hobbit house. Quaint and ever so enchanting, it blended seamlessly into the surrounding landscape, its roof teeming with greenery and wildflowers. We even had a cat, lazily draped across our outdoor bench, who quickly became a constant companion over the next few days – much to the kids’ delight. As gites in Brittany go, this was going to be an interesting and rather different stay for the My Travel Monkey family…
Ecolodge La Belle Verte
Situated in the small hamlet of Saint-M’Hervé in Brittany or Bretagne in France, the Ecolodge La Belle Verte offers self-catering in Brittany but with a difference. It may be a hidden oasis surrounded by fields and an abundance of wildlife but is only a short drive to the stunning medieval town of Vitré and a couple of hours from Saint-Malo and World Heritage Site Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel – so not far from major attractions and amenities. But once you take the Ecolodge La Belle Verte turning off the main road, it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere – which is very much the whole point.
Why is this different from other gites in Brittany?
Back in 2011, Ecolodge La Belle Verte owners Hélène and Etienne set themselves the challenge of creating Brittany cottages that would have minimal impact on the environment. So they began constructing simple wooden lodges using natural materials, heated by the sun, insulated by earth walls, with low consumption appliances and even means to collect rainwater. Our ecolodge was really unlike anything we’d ever stayed in before. And with an eco-friendly Brittany cottage, as well as a Tiny House in the garden, there are options for different-sized groups.
Inside our Brittany accommodation…
What is surprising is the clever use of space. On entering our lodge, Monkey was over the moon to see that his bed was accessed by a wooden ladder to a mezzanine floor with his very own little window looking out into the woodland beyond. On the ground floor, we had a large double bed, a small sitting area, as well as fully equipped kitchenette with a fridge and two cooking gas rings, and dining room table and chairs – and even room for a good-sized travel cot provided for us. Partitioned by a curtain, is the bathroom, with fresh towels and a walk-in shower. The earthly interiors complemented by bright and colourful furnishings meant our lodge felt very homely, even though we struggled to keep it tidy, due to lack of storage. Meanwhile, we had electricity, hot and cold water, and Wi-fi, so in no way did we feel like we didn’t have any mod-cons. We even had an organic breakfast delivered to us each morning consisting of homemade and local produce such as fresh baguettes and jams.
The Dry Toilet!
What surprised me the most, however, was the dry toilet. Laugh at me if you will – as I’ve never been the camping type so the concept is completely new to me. But of course, with any environmentally sound establishment, the recycling of all materials including human waste is paramount. I won’t go into too much detail, but all of us struggled with the dry toilet which, to be fair to Ecolodge La Belle Verte, was cleaned once a day. I definitely think it was more mind over matter, and I couldn’t quite get over the fact that it was in such close proximity to where I was sleeping.
Although we didn’t get the opportunity to experience the other services at Ecolodge La Belle Verte, there is definitely several to be enjoyed – and most centre around wellness and learning. From massages and nordic baths to art therapy and nature workshops, there is certainly enough to keep guests fully occupied in the most relaxing of ways and without having to leave the grounds.
For kids at Ecolodge La Belle Verte
I can’t imagine there are many holiday homes in Brittany that have bikes to ride, bug hunts activities, swings, climbing ropes, wendy houses, trampolines, farm animals to feed and vegetable patches for kids to explore and let loose, all the while being safe from any passing traffic and enclosed onsite. That was one of our highlights staying at Ecolodge La Belle Verte. The kids just wandered happily and really enjoyed exploring the surrounding countryside. While Monkey loved swinging from the trees, Peanut adored being near the chickens, sheep and resident goat. He also loved bouncing on the trampoline.
One afternoon, after a busy morning exploring the many things to do in Brittany, we returned to our holiday home in Brittany and decided to go for a bike ride. We didn’t head too far, but it was great fun to just grab the bikes and just go! Ecolodge La Belle Verte is really geared towards families offering an interesting and safe environment for children to enjoy. There were many occasions when the husband and I would just be enjoying the peace on the outdoor terrace, and the kids were happily amusing themselves nearby.
I didn’t know what to expect when we first arrived. ‘Ecolodge’ meant I made an assumption that perhaps our stay would be more glamping in style and, while I struggled with the dry toilet situ, our distinctive accommodation was anything but simplistic. We really enjoyed the idyllic setting, playing cards and drinking wine while listening to the nocturnal wildlife under the glow of the twinkly lantern lights at night – and being able to let the children freely wander.
Just as we had to pack up leave, was when we were all beginning to succumb to its charms. There are so many places to stay in Brittany, but if you’re looking for something quirky, and super family-friendly than Ecolodge La Belle Verte should be top of your list.
* Disclaimer: A stay in the same cabin as ours at Ecolodge La Belle Verte begin at €165 per night for a family of four with breakfast. We were hosted by Visit Brittany for a two-night stay. As always my opinions are my own.