Imagine: finding an abandoned trailer in the forest, planting it in an unsightly ghetto zone then sprucing the place up into a tranquil alternative “place du partage”. Then running a café by gathering local products within a 10km radius, decorating the place with furniture from donations and second hand shops, making sirops from a handed-down recipe, transforming unsold food into tapenades, offering employment to some of the disadvantaged and hosting cultural exhibitions.
La Roulotte Café found in Nyon, a lakeside town in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, is where all this happens. I stumbled across this place while heading to Paléo festival – one of the biggest music festivals in Switzerland (not to mention, quite sustainable). I recommend La Roulotte as a *fairspot (aka sustainable tourism spot – see below for definition) on the fair traveller’s facebook page and one thing lead to another and, voilà, I ended up here, sharing lunch with one of founders, Marie-Laure one fine summer day in the Swiss capital of Bern where she is based. I wanted to find out, first of all, what La Roulotte is all about and get the goss on the general method behind the madness.
The affair started after having an exam-induced epiphany whilst overlooking the Wednesday markets in Lausanne, leading Marie-Laure and her partner-in-crime Isabelle to ponder the possibility of opening up a sustainable food serving business. Marie-Laure was reflecting on her memories selling produce from her family’s farm at the markets leading them to fabricate the idea of creating a café business. One that did some good. With Marie-Laure’s passion, Isabelle’s energy and enthusiasm, they joined forces with their artistic friends Gaëlle and Joana and starting mustering up a plan. Originally wanting to set up on the lake-side, their plans changed shape when the Nyon municipality were willing to back the project and offered them a spot near the train station to set up their business – a spot where, let’s just say, you wouldn’t want to pass by on your Sunday strolls.
The Nyon municipality supported the project because they were interested in sprucing up this down-beat area and giving it new life. They took care of getting the place in good shape and putting in electricity and water. Their association is called “Trait d’Unyon” and they run the café with the goal of prioritising ethical and ecological values.
Meeting up with Marie-Laure was pretty inspiring, she’s the kind of person that gives you energy and who is walking proof that sustainable tourism can be a reality. Its times like these where I couldn’t be happier being a part of the fair traveller project – meeting like-minded and inspiring people who are willing to go the extra mile and step out of the square to do something that they believe in.
Does she recommend this kind of venture? Shes says “yes” with a huge smile and bubbling with goodness. After equipping me with some suggestions for potential *fairspots to scope out for the rest of the afternoon in the Swiss capital, we parted ways. To check out some fairspots I found in Bern check out this album (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.829863583800769.1073741835.398134853640313&type=3). If you know of any others, either in Bern or anywhere around the world – let me know!
“Impact cannot happen in insolation, it requires collective action”.
Find out more about “La Roulotte” at http://www.laroulotte.ch/horaires.html
*businesses within the tourism industry that act fair towards their social and natural environment, taking into account their actions and deriving concrete actions