For many years now, La Rochelle has been investing and innovating in the environment and ecology in order to protect its fragile coastline. It is now a reference and an example for other cities in terms of sustainable development and ecology.
Transport in the agglomeration
From the 1970s, the mayor of La Rochelle, Michel Crépeau, wanted to make his city an ecological city and adopted a committed and green policy. In order to improve the air quality, but also the comfort of its citizens, Michel Crépeau decided to set up the first pedestrian zone in France and in 1997 created the first “car-free day” in France.
In 1976, still on the initiative of the mayor, La Rochelle was given a bicycle self-service system, then very quickly public electric boats to go from the Old Port to the media library.
The electric is also at the heart of the concerns of the town since in 1986 the Rochelais discover the first “clean cars”, mainly used by city officials, before the establishment of a fleet of free electric vehicles -service since 1999. An alternative to polluting cars is thus offered.
But these innovations do not stop there since the agglomeration is still the only one on French territory today to undertake the delivery of goods in electric vehicles.
An urban ecology
When Michel Crépeau, then deputy of Charente Maritime, arrived at the head of the city in 1971, the time was not at all for ecology or environmental protection and even less for the Atlantic and however its first action will be to cancel the construction of a concrete dam, yet already well advanced at the port of Minimes.
In the same vein, while the Villeneuve-les-Salines real estate construction project is in full study, he decides to completely revise the plans and divides by three the quantity of housing in order to protect the marshes present in the surroundings, but also to replace these free spaces with parks and lakes.
Michel Crépeau was undoubtedly a pioneer of the ecological transition in France. But what about his commune today?
Self-service bikes, now called “Yelo”, have multiplied, as have electric cars and boats. The buses run mainly on diester (biodiesel) and tests are in progress finally to set up no longer electric boats, but boats running on hydrogen. The pedestrian zone is growing more and more, but the “car-free day” has unfortunately been abandoned.
However, the city continues in line with the ecological policy established by Michel Crépaux. While today a part of the economy of La Rochelle relies on tourism, it always seeks to respect the environment by developing sustainable tourism. Emerge in the four corners of the life of zero waste lodgings, hotels, guesthouses, eco-friendly inns or campsites adept at green tourism. These accommodations will, for example, use only electricity from renewable energies, use mainly second-hand or recycled objects or even offer organic, local and homemade products.
Regarding waste, many stores are starting to develop bulk in order to limit waste. La Rochelle hopes to reduce its waste production by 7% within 5 years.
In addition, the municipality has always encouraged and continues to encourage sorting and recycling. In particular, it provides residents with clothing collection containers while offering them individual composters to store garden and kitchen waste at home. The agglomeration sorting center is ultra modern and since 2017 has made it possible to recycle all kinds of plastics, whether flexible or hard.