With the unveiling of a 3,230-square-foot garden, the iconic Paris hotel puts sustainability first.
One of Paris’s best hotels is getting even better. The just unveiled a massive organic garden to provide produce for , one of the property’s three Michelin-starred restaurants. Helmed by the award-winning restaurant’s chef Simone Zanoni, the potager is located within the Domaine of Madame Elisabeth park in Versailles, just 11 miles away from the Palace hotel.
Though the project has officially been underway since last year, the genesis of the idea goes back a few years to a day when Zanoni was grocery shopping with his family and came across a trash bin filled with bananas. When he asked about it, he was told that the store’s policy was to toss out produce after it had gone past its "best before date," and that the local food banks currently weren’t in need of any additional food. With just a few brown specks on the otherwise unspoiled fruit, he was mortified and unsure of how to explain the wasteful practice to his children. “If we carry on like this, there’s not going to be anything left. We might not see the effects with our generation, but we’ll ruin it for future ones,” Zanoni said after telling the story.
So, rather than limit himself to a simple kitchen garden, the chef ran with this experience and set off to create a comprehensive sustainability strategy for the hotel. To start, the hotel is converting organic waste from the property into compost to nourish the garden’s soil, thanks to a partnership with , a start-up that collects scraps by bike and processes them in its own green facility. In addition, coffee grounds from Le George are being used specifically to plant what the hotel is calling “George V mint,” which will have a distinct coffee flavor.
The 3,230-square-foot garden currently consists of two large greenhouses—one that acts primarily as a nursery and another that houses 25 lemon trees imported from Italy’s Lake Garda—and is already home to a wide range of fruit, herbs, and vegetables, including basil, parsley, green beans, zucchini, carrots, Brussels sprouts, pumpkins, eggplant, several kinds of apples, an assortment of berries and no fewer than 15 varieties of tomatoes, which Zanoni is particularly excited about. A number of beehives have also been brought in to help with pollination and the making of local honey, and they're even using biodegradable pots.
For anyone interested in visiting the potager, the hotel has created an experience where guests will be whisked away in a Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid Turbo S by Zanoni, who happens to have a penchant for fast cars, to pick their own produce before picnicking in the garden or returning to Le George for the renowned Mediterranean-inspired fare. (We can think of worse ways to spend a day.)
And the George V's sustainability efforts don't stop there. Elsewhere in the hotel, chef Christian Le Squer of the three-starred Le Cinq has taken on his own environmental initiatives. Believing that “the future of gastronomy relies on protecting the environment,” the Brittany-born chef will be rounding up 200 individuals, including members from his team, to clean up the Seine next week. For such an iconic hotel to put sustainability first like this is no small thing. With more moves to come, the famed hotel is raising the bar for how luxury properties build sustainability into their daily fabric—and the results will undoubtedly be delicious, too.