Charlotte's Letter

“It all started in my native country, Sweden, where from a very young age I heard my parents, especially my father, tell me; turn off the light when you leave your room, don't do the dishes under running water, close the window when the heating is on, don't waste...
As an adult, I had a very enriching experience with a small house in the countryside near Stockholm. There was no running water and I assure you when you have to fetch buckets of water, you won't waste any more!
You know, as I do, that children don't always obey and that parents repeat the same things over and over again. My father's repeated remarks served some purpose; and I believe that today, my parents would have been proud of their environmental education when they saw my commitment to the Domaine de Bassilour hotel.
When I arrived in France there was no sorting collection in our municipality, and it was reluctantly that everything went to the trash. From the creation of the sorting center in Bidart, I took part in this action. For water and electricity, the process was immediate because the bills had to be paid and the house was very large. At the time the environment was not my first concern but more the stock market. Regardless, the result was good for both!
The first works we carried out in the mansion, bought in 1989, were to change part of the windows to put in triple glazing… Another Swedish idea! What a change, no more heat loss. Certainly a big investment but in the long run profitable. The second investment was the treatment of the walls against rising damp with astonishing results after 2 years.
In 2000, with the acquisition of the Ferme de Bassilour, I was able to go much further in my approach, with a perfect awareness of the impact of all our actions on the environment.
The farm, which dates from the 16th century, was built in bioclimatic design. The openings were oriented to have the least loss possible. The orientation of the building takes into account the contribution of heat in winter, and which it knows how to minimize in summer. The 60 cm stone walls have a heavy inertia. We undertook the work with an ambition to respect the environment, and reflecting on the know-how of our ancestors. It is necessary to insulate well without forgetting that the stone walls need to breathe. The choice to cover the walls with lime was obvious to allow the stones to breathe.
I chose geothermal after quite a deep study via internet and talking with friends (in Sweden). I was very quickly convinced, but it took me a little time to persuade the architect. We put underfloor heating which had 2 advantages, no radiator and a soft and uniform heat.
Installing power cuts in each room is a convenient way for guests to turn off all lights without waste.
Once on the spur of a renovation, respecting noble materials and documenting me on HQE constructions, my commitment to the environment became a natural thing.
When I received the proposal to be part of a pilot group in Aquitaine to obtain the eco-label, I was immediately interested. The only thing that scared me was the file and all the papers to be drawn up, fortunately I was supported by a design office.
Now we have to follow the evolution of the consumption of electricity, water and the amount of sorting etc. For us who had already made efforts before, the progress will not be very spectacular but each effort is useful.
We are changing our purchasing habits and, as far as possible, we now only buy eco-labeled products (soaps, shampoo, detergent, etc.). We communicate a lot about ecology with our customers (attached is the information sheet which is in French and English in each room). We have replaced plastic water bottles with returnable glass bottles, and soon also other drinks in the minibars.
The next step will be to invite customers to use a pitcher to help themselves to tap water. The “cuvée” of Bidart is of excellent quality and it arrives in our glasses, without polluting transport and without producing waste. Maybe the idea a bit original
I am going to buy 2 electric bikes for my clients, electric because the Basque country is very hilly. We have a service installed by the new team at the town hall, a free shuttle during the summer to go to town and which serves the beaches of Bidart. An excellent idea!
We are now continuing our ecological approach with the Maison de Maître, the geothermal installation has been finished since May. We are delighted to have removed the old oil boiler. This time it is thanks to the fodder at 28m with a yield of 1kw consumed for 4 to 5kw restored.
The same type of installation is underway for the Conciergerie with a start-up for Christmas. Water heating for the Conciergerie swimming pool has been done by an “air-water” heat pump for the past year, a considerable saving on the electricity bill. All the windows in the Conciergerie were replaced by double-glazed windows at the beginning of the year.
I have done a study for an installation of photovoltaic panels, but I don't have the finances yet, and I think that progress will make them smaller and more efficient. The dream is to become “autonomous” in energy.
A quick word to finish: Luxury is health
Luxury is breathing clean air
Luxury is its own nature
Luxury is to have noble materials
Luxury is not to waste…”
Charlotte Vachet
Owner of Domaine de Bassilour



1562 Rue Bassilour
64210 Bidart


+33 (0)5 59 41 90 85



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