REPORT – Nicolas Vanier: “It’s criminal to eat strawberries in December”

Concerned about the future of the planet, Nicolas Vanier and his family live in Sologne, in a farm fitted out to be independent. Everything has been thought out to limit their carbon footprint, from electricity, heating and water, to how they eat every day. Guided tour.

Barely out of the car, Boy and Sheriff, two very playful setters, run to meet us and come looking for hugs. A few meters behind, on his doorstep, Nicolas Vanier calls them to order and welcomes us to his farm, a little paradise located in Sologne, in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by forests and ponds. Firm handshake, direct familiarity, the adventurer immediately puts us at ease and invites us to enter his house. It belonged to his grandparents, he grew up there in contact with nature and has always lived there with his wife Diane and their three children, Montaine, 29, Loup, 25, and Côme, 19. A place full of childhood memories. ” When I was little, the game warden found me outside his door every day at 6 a.m. and took me on his rounds. I still remember those magnificent dawns and my first stag roars. He passed it all on to me. »

Raising public awareness of the dangers that await us if we do nothing

The interior of the house is rustic, the atmosphere warm, predominantly wood. Some beams come from trees in the forest that surrounds the property. ” I love the idea “, admits the owner of the place with a broad smile. A desire for autonomy and the use of natural resources that he puts into practice every day. And who finds himself at the heart of his latest novel, It’s the world upside down (XOEditions). The story of a Parisian family fleeing the capital to live on a farm in Morvan, in a France suffocating under an unprecedented heat wave, a shortage of fuel and the absence of electricity. One could accuse Nicolas Vanier of surfing on the burning news of recent months, except that he wrote his story two years ago. ” For several years now, during my travels, I have noticed the degradation of the planet “, he explains. For twenty years, through his books, his films (Wolf, The Last Trapper, Give Me Wings) or his speeches, he tries to make the public aware of the dangers that await us if we do nothing. He decided to act. Starting with the operation of his farm.

Nicolas Vanier has 20 hens.  “We give them all our food waste, it's a great way to reduce the volume of our bins, which is practically reduced to zero.  »
© © Thomas LavelleNicolas Vanier has 20 hens. “We give them all our food waste, it’s a great way to reduce the volume of our bins, which is practically reduced to zero. »

Replace drinking water with shower water for toilets

On the roof of a barn, he shows us the 40 m2 of photovoltaic panels which were installed to supply electricity and recharge a system of batteries which take over at night and on days without sunshine. Nicolas Vanier then takes us to a sort of large cube which houses a huge boiler.We put logs 80 cm long, which can supply the radiators of the house and the production of hot waterhe explains. To keep us warm, I don’t envisage anything other than the wood that the forest gives us. » For water, the house is always connected to the traditional network. On the other hand, for the toilets, a recently installed system makes it possible to replace drinking water with that of the shower.. ” It still represents 5 to 9 liters each time we flush, it’s not nothing “, observes Nicolas Vanier.

Other natural resource used daily: garden fruits and vegetables. ” We participate, but it’s Didier, the goalkeeper, who takes care of it the most because it’s a full-time job. We’re not always there explains Diane, who loves to cook. Tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, salads, leeks, carrots: you just have to bend down to help yourself. Not to mention the fruit trees. “ I spend my life picking, I love it, including mushrooms in this season. I cook what I harvest, otherwise I canned for the winter. I have entire cupboards full of jars. I also make my pies, I like the idea of ​​transforming everything we have.So shopping in the store is reduced to a minimum. Flour, sugar, bread, bought in small local shops. ” I go there by bike, it’s 3 kilometers away, I would really like to limit the use of the car, but it’s difficult when you live in the countryside “, she regrets. The meat comes from local producers. ” Today, when we buy meat wrapped in cellophane in the supermarket, we don’t realize the amount of energy used and the huge carbon dioxide footprint for it to reach our plates. », Gets carried away Nicolas Vanier. With Diane, they prefer game, wild boar, deer, ducks hunted on the estate. “It’s like for the forest, the resource is infinite provided you only take a certain amount each year. »

“The blue card is more powerful than the voter card”

And don’t talk to them about punitive ecology or restriction. ” It’s a crime to eat strawberries in Decemberhe says. Is it a constraint or a deprivation of not being able to eat it for several months? No, on the contrary, we take more pleasure when we find them in June. And we can multiply the examples ad infinitum. “. The future, according to him, is not in the hands of politicians or large industrial groups, but in those of the consumer.The blue card is more powerful than the voter card “, he asserts.

To explore his 250 hectares of land, Nicolas Vanier uses a small electric cart.
© © Thomas LavelleTo explore his 250 hectares of land, Nicolas Vanier uses a small electric cart.

A matter of will

If the state of the planet does not encourage optimism, Nicolas wants to believe in a better tomorrow. ” I am not pessimistiche says. We have all the solutions, it’s not a question of ability, but of will. “A desire that he also applies for the filming this fall of the adaptation of It’s the world upside down. With my teams, we are looking for solutions to reduce our footprint. He also specifies that he succeeded in convincing Yannick Noahrather rare in cinemato play a role in it:Seduced by the message, he wants to ensure that our children and grandchildren can live on this sick planet. The director’s fear after what we experienced this summer? ” That when the film is released, it is no longer a fiction but a documentary. And in his observations, Nicolas Vanier is always one step ahead.

In his workshop, with chicken feathers, Nicolas Vanier makes his own flies to go fishing
© © Thomas LavelleIn his workshop, with chicken feathers, Nicolas Vanier makes his own flies to go fishing

Photo credits: © Thomas Lavelle