In the City of Light, Parisian classics get an earth-friendly twist.
Already famous for its legendary jazz club, Le Méridien Étoile *** (doubles from $420) is now getting attention for installing energy-efficient mini-bars, televisions, and heating systems in its polished rooms.
If you are willing to sacrifice a central location for a great value, the business-oriented Ibis Porte de Clichy Centre *** (Doubles from $140), just outside the city and still served by the Métro, has more than 800 square feet of solar panels stretched across its façade.
A new addition to the city’s booming 13th Arrondissement, BioArt **** (dinner for two $100) serves an all-organic menu—risotto topped with shaved truffles; a terrine of diver scallops—in a design-forward space overlooking the Seine.
Live out the ultimate farm-to-table fantasy with a meal at chef Alain Passard’s Michelin three-starred Arpège **** (lunch for two $380). His menus incorporate the dozens of fruit, vegetable, and herb varieties grown on his farm—tilled by horses—southwest of Paris, and ingredients (Breton lobster; Chalon duck) from producers who share his passion for terroir.
In keeping with the spirit of the nature-loving Marie Antoinette, head gardener Alain Baraton of the Palace of Versailles **** stopped using chemicals on the garden grounds and reintroduced insects for pest control. Not only have his efforts brought about the return of swallows and green woodpeckers but his practices have also been adopted by other urban gardens.
In the city center, tour buses have been rerouted and bicycle lanes added. Take advantage with the Vélib’ **** bike-sharing program, which rents bikes for a small deposit ($1.50/day). A similar program is in the works for electric cars.
Locavore restaurants, eco-boutiques, and even a solar-powered city hall are a testament to Britain’s long-standing commitment to clean living.
The Apex City of London Hotel **** (doubles from $180), near the Tower Bridge, gets high marks for its on-site recycling; a key card system that controls heating and lights when you’re out; energy-efficient windows and lightbulbs; and a carbon-offsetting program for guests. What the guest rooms may lack in personality, they more than make up for in price.
51 Buckingham Gate’s ** (doubles from $575) smartly furnished town-house–style rooms and suites, set around a courtyard near St. James’s Park, have tasteful kitchenettes with recycling bins and nontoxic cleaning products.
Islington’s much-loved Duke of Cambridge **** (lunch for two $55) serves all-organic pub fare (along with eight microbrews on draft) at communal farmhouse tables under a high ceiling. The menu is ever-changing, but Dover sole, chilled cucumber soup, and a ricotta, beetroot, and zucchini salad are recurring fall favorites.
Chef Arthur Potts Dawson of Acorn House **** (dinner for two $105), in King’s Cross, reinvents English classics like a Cornish crab risotto and an artichoke-and-pancetta salad in the open kitchen of his white-walled restaurant. Potts Dawson also trains 10 local youngsters each year in the art of sustainable restaurant management.
The historic Borough Market ** is the place to go for top-notch artisanal foods, such as tasty Neal’s Yard cheeses, sourced from neighboring farms. Shop with the market’s now-iconic jute bag, sold at the entrance for $6.
Head to Eco ****, actor Colin Firth’s home design store in a converted Chiswick town house with a green roof, for chic housewares, including fair-trade throw pillows and table settings.
No-frills women’s clothing boutique Equa *** is an ethical-style pioneer, selling cult-brand Del Forte denim and La Lesso ballet flats.
Cutting Edge Green Tours **** (tickets $45) runs offbeat excursions on public transportation and by foot. Sights include the Tate Modern, housed in a refurbished power plant; Junky Styling, which sells reworked secondhand clothing; the organic chocolate store Montezuma’s; and City Hall, whose solar-powered, Norman Foster–designed egg shape improves interior ventilation and retains heat.
Scandinavia is Europe’s greenest region, and Stockholm is its urban heart. From its enormous parks to its fashionable streets, the city pulses with eco-options.
The high-tech Nordic Light hotel *** (doubles from $400) incorporates efficiency in its design: the futuristic lobby lounge (white walls; podlike tables and chairs) is heated with renewable energy, and some bedrooms have colorful mood lighting by way of energy-saving bulbs.
For old-school charm, head to the Radisson SAS Strand *** (doubles from $370), which is housed in a historic brick building. Large, light-filled guest rooms overlook the harbor. Behind the scenes, the hotel’s parent company, Rezidor, has an ambitious water-, waste-, and energy-reduction campaign.
Chef Gustav Otterberg, the 26-year-old rising star behind Leijontornet **** (dinner for two $100), relies on farm-fresh ingredients for his hearty dishes, such as venison with dried cherries, ox marrow, and crispy black pudding. For dessert, don’t miss the baked apples with hazelnuts, bee pollen, and house-made ice cream.
Located on Djurgården, the most pastoral of Stockholm’s central islands, Rosendals Trädgård **** (lunch for two $75) is part café, part bakery, and part nursery, thanks to the on-site greenhouse where fruits and vegetables are grown. What the restaurant can’t source itself, it purchases from local producers. Leftovers, naturally, are composted.
The three-year-old market Street ** transforms an anonymous corner of the hip Södermalm neighborhood into a bustling weekend fair, filled with vendors selling everything from antique embroidered linens to exquisite wooden dolls by Swedish toy maker Fredrik Hillerborg.
The pioneering Ekovaruhuset **** boutique (the House of Organic in Swedish), sells sophisticated clothing such as designer Camilla Norrback’s wool knits and fine cotton dresses; tailored, chemical-free jackets from Stockholm-based designer Anja Hynynen; and founder Johanna Hofring’s own linen shirts with crochet details.
Three royal palaces—including Haga Palace, where the current monarch, King Carl XVI Gustaf, was born— can be found in the national Ekoparken ****, a sprawling, 6,700-acre conservation tract (complete with roe deer, owls, and pine martens) right in the center of the city. The UNESCO World Heritage site Skogskyrkogården ***, or Woodland Cemetery, is one of Stockholm’s most surprising architectural landmarks. Its rolling pine-forest landscape holds memorials designed by two of Sweden’s most important Modernists, Sigurd Lewerentz and Gunnar Asplund, best known for designing the Stockholm Public Library.