Earthship Perrine – Manche
- Cabin for 6
1 four-poster, 1 double, 1 twin. Space for extra cot.
The Earthship: an extraordinary, extraterrestrial-looking dwelling made entirely of natural and recycled materials. Strangely beautiful, it’s built to an inspirational design and is the perfect sustainable living environment. The Earthship quietly collects and conserves energy and water, powering itself and filtering all waste, so all you have to do is live in it!
Looking at the Earthship from the outside, it’s unlike anything else – and the only one of its kind to rent in Europe. Despite being half-underground, huge, south-facing windows trap sunlight and, alone, can heat the structure to 14 degrees even in the depths of winter – the woodburner tops this up to ‘toasty.’ A jungly garden runs along the central corridor for year-round greenery (and sustenance), where mandarins, limes – even a banana palm – join the geraniums. Three big bedrooms, a bathroom and a large hobbitty kitchen and living area are tucked away under the hill. Everything here is super-efficient, from the SunFrost fridge to the water filtration systems that purify the kitchen tap. In fact, it gained a carbon emissions score of zero when assessed for its energy performance certificate.
Blackberries, raspberries and fruit trees grow outside; take the steps to the roof to find a wind turbine, the pebble rainwater trap, and lovely views of rural Normandy. Waterfall walks, rock climbing,woodland cycle paths and harvest-time ‘maize mazes’ make the region a great place for an adventurous break – and a guilt-free one too.
- Children welcome
Children welcome, space for extra cot. Sorry, pets are not allowed at The Earthship.
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Everything you need to know about Earthship Perrine
The important stuff
- Check-in is between 4-6pm. PLEASE call if you will be arriving outside these times.
- Check out is at 11am.
Sleeping arrangements1 four-poster, 1 double, 1 twin. Space for extra cot.
Kids & PetsChildren welcome, space for extra cot. Sorry, pets are not allowed at The Earthship.
- Kitchen with sunfrost 24 volt DC super insulated
- Gas stove / oven
- Washing machine
- Bathroom with flushing loo, sink & shower over bath.
- Eco-friendly, biodegradable washing, laundry and cleaning products are all provided for you - but please use only these, as the Earthship's water is recycled through planters using plants sensitive to the chemicals in standard washing products.
Heating, lighting & bedding
- Woodburner for heating only (logs provided)
- All linen, towels and tea towels included.
- Permaculture garden (in progress)
Earthship Perrine, Ger 50850, Normandy, France
Earthship Perrine is just over a 1 hour drive from the nearest ferry port in Caen. The ports of Saint Malo, Cherbourg and Le Havre are all around a 2 hour drive from The Earthship. LD Lines go from Portsmouth to Le Havre, and Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to St Malo, Caen or Cherbourg.
The nearest airports are in Dinard which is served by Ryanair, and in Caen flying with Air South.
Take the Eurostar from London and change in Paris. You could even stop for the night, though you don't need to: there is a direct train from Paris to the nearest train station in Flers which is 21km from The Earthship.
Take the car ferry (as above) or hire a car locally. Ask for driving directions on booking.
Eating & drinking
At the Earthship
You'll have to bring all your own food to the Earthship, but you can find everything you need to cook up a scrumptious meal in the local village of Ger, which is a 10 minute walk away. There's a friendly baker, bar-tabac, post office, even a mini supermarket. On Thursday morning, the local butcher has a stall in the village square. Back at the Earthship, there is a fully equipped kitchen, extremely efficient fridge and a BBQ on the terrace.
Local delicacies include Normandy cheeses, cider and calvados - apple brandy - which can be bought at the weekly markets and sampled in the many cafés and restaurants in the area. Being close to the coast means you will also find an array of fresh seafood and fish to feast upon.
The Jug and Jazz is a bar-brasserie in Ger. Mortain is the nearest town, for a wider range of restaurants.
Visit the traditional, family-run Biscuiterie de l'Abbaye at nearby Lonlay l'Abbaye to be guided through the process of artisan biscuit-making.
Things to do
Ger is a charming rural village in the heart of Normandy, in a largely agricultural area (great if you are bringing small guests who like spotting occasional tractors). Though the area is quiet and peaceful, there are many hidden delights. The Tourist Information Centre in nearby Mortain (on the main road) is a good place to start, with lots of information on local attractions.
Outdoors and active
There are far-reaching forests and a network of walking and cycling routes nearby, through the beautiful Normandy countryside. Hire bikes in Mortain, the nearest town. From Mortain you can also take beautiful walks along ‘Les Cascades,’ the waterfalls, and see breath-taking views as far away as Mont St Michel.
There is a trout fishing lake within a couple of kilometres, for those who fancy catching their own supper.
La Fosse Arthour is ten minutes away by car. Legend has it King Arthur visited this romantic spot with Guinevere, giving the gorge its name. Picnic by the lake, or expore the many climbing routes.
The farmers in the region grow maize for the cattle, and from August until early September some cut a whimsical 'maize maze' in their crops before harvesting; spot signs for these at the side of the road. In summer, fêtes and festivals are hosted by the surrounding villages and towns: go for the community vibe, and experience some real French culture.
From William the Conqueror to the present day, the cultural and historical significance of Normandy is everywhere.
The great Norman abbeys are magnificent and awe-inspiring, for religious and non-religious visitors alike.
The coast is within reach for day trips; the coastal resort of Granville is popular - don't miss the Christian Dior Museum - or visit the famous Normandy landings beaches stretching along the north coast, rich with history and emotion.
Meet your hosts
The Earthship just outside the village of Ger is the only one in Europe available to rent, whether you're aiming towards a zero-carbon holiday, or just looking for an amazingly quirky place to stay. It was designed by American Earthship guru Mike Reynolds, on land that used to supply clay for the former kiln across the road. It is in this scooped-out hole that the Earthship was built, nestling into the side of the hill. The walls are made from old tyres, each individually pounded full of earth - a huge job in which seventy volunteers took part. Each earth-pounded tyre is made on the spot because, when properly filled, they can weigh as much as 300 pounds - meaning despite their roundness, they're very difficult to move.
Earthship Perrine is now owned by Stefaan and Nele from Belgium, who have always loved Earthships. They fell in love with this one and moved to Ger with the aim of showing their children - Nette, Zanne and Lore - that it's possible to live in a different way, closer to nature. They have made it a great family-friendly place to find peace and relaxation.
"What is an Earthship?" I hear you say...
Earthships are homes which are designed to be entirely self-sufficient, ingeniously generating and recycling all water, power and waste. This ensures they have very little impact on the environment and are a truly sustainable way of living. An Earthship must be constructed using waste products like cans, bottles and tyres. These buildings were first designed by a visionary biotect, Mike Reynolds, in the US, and have since been built all over the world by people inspired by his work. They heat and cool themselves naturally via solar and thermal dynamics. They collect their own power from the sun and wind, harvest their own water from rainfall and treat their own waste with advanced filtration systems hidden under the hill. Fruit-bearing plants breathe oxygen into the air and provide a year-round food source.
When the Earthship was assessed for its energy performance certificate (EPC), the result was unprecedented: it gained an A, with a score of zero for all carbon emissions. It's easy to believe once you're there, and come to realise that the sustainable philosophy of the Earthship doesn't stop at green touches, but reaches right to the heart of this incredible dwelling.
The huge, glass windows along the front of the Earthship are positioned at the optimum angle to capture the sun's rays and flood the hall with light. These windows warm the rooms, and tyres trap the heat. Even without the warmth of habitation and woodburning stove, the building never drops below 12 degrees in the depths of winter. Along the base of the windows is a long, thin, jungle-like garden. You may find lime plants, kiwis, mandarins, banana palms, and geraniums here; certainly there is life all year round, even in the depths of winter. The CO2 which is absorbed by the plants and released as oxygen helps aerate the house, and the jungle is watered by rain filtered down from the roof.
The Earthship uses plants for decoration as well as for practical reasons: you'll find quirky touches to the décor like these indoor mini cactus gardens.