Self guided walking holiday in France

“Our only self-guided walking holiday in Poitou-Charentes region, staying at a family run guest house where hiking, cycling, great food, wine and company are what life's all about.”


Scillé | Les Cinq Communes Walk | Le Beugnon Lakes Picnic | Route de Fenioux | Faymoreau | Marais Poitevin (Green Venice) | Butchers Wood walk | Vouvant | Swimming pool | Excellent food and wine

Description of Self guided walking holiday in France

Self-guided walking holidays commence most Sunday afternoons from May to September. Professional, easy to follow route-notes and high-lighted large-scale maps are provided together with friendly advice and information. The length of walks can be varied to suit you.

A glorious rural paradise with miles of secluded paths and lanes in unspoiled and varying countryside. In this unspoiled region there are oodles of birds, butterflies and wild flowers to see. Delightful walking and idyllic surroundings with many varied and interesting routes to choose from.

Based at a wonderful little Maison d'Hôte (guest house) in Deepest Rural France where exceptional hospitality is based on superb cuisine, plenty of excellent wine and a marvellous ambiance.

The Maison d’Hôte is alluringly off the beaten tourist track and yet easily accessible by EuroStar and TGV to Niort, by road with good links from cross channel ferry ports and by air with convenient airports at la Rochelle, Poitiers, Nantes and Paris CDG. The Maison d’Hôte is 100km inland from la Rochelle and 100km south of the Loire.

Leisurely en-famille four-course evening meals following aperitifs-at-seven are a much enjoyed feature of this holiday. Cuisine is based on wholesome local ingredients, skilfully prepared and pleasingly presented. Accommodation and amenities - in a restored 17thC millhouse - are excellent and include a heated pool.

The walking circuits are suitable for experienced and moderately experienced walkers. Introductory circuits are also available, although it is necessary to be reasonably fit to enjoy the walking on offer. Additional routes are available in the Marais Poitevin and in the region of Mervent Forest and Vouvant for guests with their own transport.

The season is May to September. April, May and June are popular walking months with glorious spring weather, verges full of wild flowers and the countryside abounding with new life. July to September is pleasantly agreeable for walking when the weather is warm and generally not too hot.

There are many other things to do and see as well as to walking. Cycling and simply relaxing holidays are also available at the Maison d'Hôte. In addition, this region - now called Nouvelle-Aquitaine - is rich in sites of historic, cultural and natural interest.

Prices include accommodation, maps and route-notes, breakfasts, packed lunches, aperitifs and leisurely four-course evening meals. All coffee, tea, wine, beer, cider and soft drinks are also included – tea and coffee are available in the rooms and a well-stocked drinks fridge is available 24/7, without charge. There are no extras to pay on this holiday – even the postcards are free.

The blend of wonderful walking, idyllic surroundings, plenty of things to do and see, exceptional hospitality, a marvellous ambiance and a reasonable price make this a very agreeable, relaxed and fulfilling holiday.

Holidays at the Maison d'Hôte at not suitable for families with young children.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

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28 Apr 2019
£ 875
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05 May 2019
£ 962
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19 May 2019
£ 962
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02 Jun 2019
£ 962
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09 Jun 2019
£ 962
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23 Jun 2019
£ 962
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30 Jun 2019
£ 962
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14 Jul 2019
£ 962
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21 Jul 2019
£ 962
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01 Sep 2019
£ 962
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08 Sep 2019
£ 962
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22 Sep 2019
£ 962
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27 Sep 2019
£ 962
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Our top tip:
Easy to reach by TGV train from Paris, stopping at Niort station, where your hosts can meet you.
Trip type:
Self-guided, centre based.
Activity level:
Leisurely. 14-20 kms per day.
Family-run guesthouse with pool.
Accommodation, all meals, all drinks, walking itineraries.
Solo travellers welcome. One single room available with no surcharge per week.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Self guided walking holiday in France


The proprietors and hosts of this holiday, Carolynn Grimaldi and Peter Roche, are committed to protection of the environment with respect all things relating directly and indirectly to the wellbeing of the human race on this planet, to the maximum extent consistent with the resources available to them and in accordance the means dictated by the development of related scientific knowledge, and it is our promise to continue so to do.
"The proprietors of this Maison d'Hote are actively taking measures to use renewable energy sources, save energy and water, to reduce waste, to improve the local environment."
Carolynn Grimaldi and Peter Roche – Scillé, France 26 November 2011

This holiday enables guests to enjoy the delightful countryside without adversely affecting it, to visit local places of historical, cultural and natural interest and to indulge in an abundance of wholesome local food and excellent wine in an amicable atmosphere.

The region it has a huge diversity of trees, wild flowers, animals, birds, butterflies and aquatic creatures. Local biodiversity is almost certainly unharmed by this holiday. The local population density is only 34 inhabitants per km2 and guest capacity of the Maison d'Hôte is limited to ten whereas, on the other hand the region is vast and verdant. A balance of good soil fertility, plenty of sunshine and enough rainfall ensures that any minor upsets to the local flora and fauna are rapidly reconciled. Natural habitats are not under pressure as a result this holiday.

A charter for the preservation of local watercourses as close as possible to their natural state engages the proprietors of the Maison d'Hote and local farmers in a commitment to avoid watercourse-pollution and to maintain watercourses in a manner that will encourage bio-diversity. The wide ranging charter includes an undertaking not to use pesticides and herbicides on land adjacent to watercourses and not to clear natural growth from along the banks, to encourage natural habitat for aquatic and land plants and animals.

Food miles in respect of the superb cuisine on this holiday are relatively very favourable, thus minimising pollution from transportation. A quantity of fresh vegetables is supplied from the nearby garden of Pierrot (we assure you that he is aware of this). Organic beef comes from Bernard who farms adjacently. Other ingredients are local as far as possible. Non-local produce comes from other parts of France and unavoidably imported food is from not too distant Spain and Morocco.

The copious quantities of first-class wines served on this holiday (and included in the price) are local, from Anjou, Fiefs Vendéen and other wine producing areas within France. Thus the wine-miles may also be considered to be quite favourable. A Merlot sometimes served on this holiday is transported by road tanker from the Pays d'Oc, in the south-east of France, to nearby Niort where it is bottled. The wine is not harmed by this and transportation in road tankers rather than in palletized bottles provides a significant saving in the number of truck miles involved, with obvious benefits.

Little things make a difference if we are all willing to make a similar effort. Here are some small environmentally friendly things that happen on this holiday.

Most journeys on behalf of the Maison d'Hôte are made using a hybrid car.

An energy efficient fridge filled with a variety of drinks is always at the free disposal of guests. The contents of the fridge include small bottles of mineral water, in consideration of the fact that small bottles are easy to carry. Guests are asked to refill the small bottles with the very drinkable piped water supplied from the nearby barrage at Mervent (this water has been recycled by Nature, not by Lyonnais des Eaux). Refilling the bottles saves both energy and pollution with respect to plastics manufacture, transportation and disposal. 

Food waste arising from the holiday operation is fed to the free range chickens on site, or if they won’t eat it, it is composted or recycled in conformity with the stringent requirements of the European Authorities.

Winter heating is mainly by logs (ie renewable energy) cut from woods on the site thereby eliminating the environmental impact of transportation to point of use, and dried undercover over years (depending on the type of wood) thus removing necessity for kiln drying. Auxiliary heating (when the outside temperature drops below -2 or -3°C) is by gas central heating using a fuel efficient boiler (2017 norms).

The postlady collects as well as delivers mail, thus eliminating the need for numerous individual journeys to the village post office.

Packed lunches are provided in bio-degradable bags.

The pool is heated when necessary by an energy efficient heat pump.

At time of writing, biologically degradable cleaning products, recently available on the local market, are in use at the Maison d'Hôte, to evaluate their efficacy.

The carbon footprint of city dwellers could well be less on this holiday compared their carbon footprint at home. This obviously depends upon where and how a city dweller lives, however, bear in mind that the Maison d'Hôte exists without the need for a significant carbon emitting infrastructure – and you will be just walking, relaxing eating and sleeping in a beautiful rural environment.


The proprietors and hosts of this holiday, Carolynn Grimaldi and Peter Roche, are an integrated part of the community in which this holiday is operated. The said community has in the past been detrimentally affected by lack of economic activity resulting in low population. Today, thanks to investment and an influx of new residents, including the proprietors of this holiday, the community is more viable. In order to help sustain this balance it is our promise to continue to procure locally all goods required for the operation of this holiday, with local provenance to the maximum extent practically possible, and all services required in connection with this holiday.
Carolynn Grimaldi and Peter Roche – Scillé, France 27 November 2011

The Maison d'Hôte represents a social and economic asset in this remote rural community.

The holiday operation was established in 1993 at a time when rural communities in the region had declined for fifty years due to lack of economic activity. The already sparse population had diminished by 65%. Creation of local employment became an official objective to revitalise these communities.

The fruit farming, cattle production and timber exploitation that exist in the region are insufficient to support a population great enough in numbers to sustain local communities. The area is attractive to visitors on account of the idyllic timelessness of the countryside and the wealth of local places of historic, cultural and natural interest. (It is interesting to note that the region has been nominated by the Lonely Planet Guide as one of the top ten tourist destinations in the World for 2012). Creation of a tourist infrastructure with the associated jobs is officially seen as a means of generating additional economic activity to attract visitors to help revive and invigorate local communities.

Large amounts of public money have been invested in recent years in restoring some significant historic sites to attract visitors. Restoration work has been sympathetically carried out and dynamic ideas, together with the famous French flair for public spectacles, make the restorations come alive. These sites are well worth seeing and your visit will be appreciated.

The Maison d'Hôte is family owned and operated within the said rural community and all revenues (with the exception of external marketing costs) are eventually expended within the community. Apart from the exception, all expenditures incurred to make this holiday possible are beneficial to the local community. Livelihoods of local suppliers, artisans and staff are sustained in part, due to the fact that all resources are local, as follows.

Staff in connection with provision of meals, drinks and housekeeping services is local.

Food and drinks provided for the holiday are purchased locally and much of it is produced locally.

The holiday facilities have been acquired by an investment in the local community.

Materials and labour for maintenance and development of the holiday facilities are procured locally.

Suppliers, artisans and staff are engaged subject to their reasonable environmental protection credentials.

Guests at the Maison d'Hôte are considered to be cultural asset in the life of the community and are liked and respected by local inhabitants.

18 Reviews of Self guided walking holiday in France

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 06 Aug 2018 by

It was a perfect holiday... The lodging was excellent nestled in greens with lots of hiking and biking trails to choose from, all meticulously planned out by the owner Peter. Food was superb, prepared by Carolyn, Peter’s wife who ran the place immaculately. This place is actually perfect or simply lazing around for a few days, sipping on limitless wine and taking a dip in the pool. Read full review

Reviewed on 22 Jul 2018 by

Top drawer! Read full review

Reviewed on 15 Jul 2018 by

One of the best breaks I have ever had. Carolyn and Peter look after you so well. I am a solo traveller and sometimes you can feel isolated but not this time!!! Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Aug 2018 by

The holiday was...Very enjoyable - our hosts were very helpful and hospitable. There are some good walks in this area and the accommodation provides detailed guides. Read full review

Reviewed on 22 Jun 2017 by

Truly great value and the fact that most of the guests had been before and one set I think 12 times makes its own point. Read full review

Reviewed on 11 Jun 2017 by

The beautiful countryside, great food, wine and company. Our hosts Carolyn and Peter were great fun, interesting conversationalists and they run a lovely home. I walked my legs off and swam in the pool every day. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 May 2017 by

The most memorable part was the hospitality of the hosts. Read full review

Reviewed on 10 Oct 2016 by

Excellent, really good food, drink and company brilliant location, great outdoor space, really appreciated the swimming pool Read full review

Reviewed on 06 Aug 2016 by

Best bits: The lovely walks the evening dinners Read full review

Reviewed on 26 May 2016 by

I would highly recommend this holiday for bikers or walkers like my wife and I. Read full review

Reviewed on 14 Sep 2015 by

Excellent. Can't say I feel reborn as the muscles still ache a bit - but certainly refreshed with a smile on our faces. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Aug 2015 by

The beautiful countryside waiting to be explore everyday, and returning back to an amazing 4 course meal every evening. A lovely combination. All enjoyed at my own pace. Read full review

Reviewed on 22 Jul 2014 by

Really ,really good, relaxing and refreshing. You will be very well looked after and feel genuinely welcome. Read full review

Reviewed on 24 May 2014 by

This was an excellent holiday. Our hosts were wonderful, the other guests (all British) were delightful, and the hikes, food, and wine were exceptional. Read full review

Reviewed on 02 Oct 2012 by

We particularly enjoyed the convivial company at meal times and our hosts taking the time to share meals and local insight with us. Carol's cooking combined the best of local produce and traditional French cookery. Read full review

Reviewed on 06 Apr 2012 by

Most memorable part of this holiday were the swaithes of wild flowers - cowslip, primrose, oxlip, violets, wild garlic. Birdsong in peaceful woodland, sometimes walking for miles without seeing anyone else. Read full review

Reviewed on 08 May 2011 by

I would thoroughly recommend this holiday to anyone wanting a break from the hustle and bustle of modern life. The hosts encourage you into a very relaxed and idyllic way of life, respecting and learning about the local customs and culture. I guarantee that you will relax, unwind and not want to go home! Read full review

Reviewed on 15 Aug 2010 by

The hospitality of our hosts was the most memorable part. 10 out of 10. Read full review

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