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By Catherine Conway, SRA Senior Account Manager

Whilst (sustainably-ish) driving to my summer holiday in France, I decided to take a small detour to stay with the wonderful Olivia Gautier whose account, Les Orangeries, I manage here at the SRA.

Situated near Poitiers in Central West France, Les Orangeries is a Three Star SRA hotel & restaurant member, organically certified and the winner of the SRA’s International Sustainable Restaurant of the Year Award 2015, so I was super excited to visit in person.

Olivia welcomed our tired bones with a cold glass of locally produced biodynamic white wine and we were in heaven as the sun finally poked its head out from behind the clouds (we were getting worried!)

Lucky enough to stay in the forest treehouse (a prototype designed for a sustainability competition by Olivia’s husband), we spent a fantastic couple of days with Olivia learning all about how she runs the hotel along sustainable principles – all the ingredients are locally sourced, they choose not to serve any meat on the breakfast buffet and offer homemade traditional breads & pastries. Most of it all, it was amazing to see how much care and attention they put into every aspect of their business and how all the sustainability decisions they make on a daily basis shine through.

Olivia took us to visit two suppliers on our trip, using the electric car provided to guests to enable them to sightsee locally, guilt-free. The first was to the truly Olivia + Nicole + Cathinspirational “Jardin de Possibilites”, an organic small holding run by Nicole and her husband along permaculture principles. This fabulous oasis provides all the fruit, herbs and edible flowers for the restaurant at Les Orangeries. Only five years old and from nothing, Nicole has created a garden bursting with life, producing high quality food on a commercial scale.

On the second visit, we were accompanied by Les Orangeries chef David Royer to the local organic meat producer which supplies beef, chicken, game, eggs & homemade cheese. It was wonderful to see a traditional mixed farm producing a variety of products rather than the monocultures you often see. And even better to witness the impeccably high animal welfare standards they adhere to, as well as the bond between local businesses who all support each other – the three elements of sustainability that we believe in at the SRA – sourcing, society & environment.

Chef David Royer fed us some incredible food, David has worked in top London & Paris restaurants and goodness it shows – the plates were miniature works of art and bursting with local seasonal produce, home smoked fish, vegetarian surprises and an extensive natural & biodynamic wine list.

Olivia Table of Goodies PicSadly, because I could have stayed there forever, we had to move on to our holiday destination near Toulouse, but not before Olivia had insisted on loading us up with produce for the week – so generous of her. It was fabulous to be able to live and breathe the operations of one of our award-winning members from the point of view of a guest and from behind the scenes.

We look forward to continuing to support Oliva and her team with all their sustainability activities and if any of you are travelling this way then a visit to Les Orangeries is a MUST!