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
£1185To£1290 excluding flights
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6 Days
Small group
More info
Based at a great little Maison d'Hôte in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, western France.
Many varied and interesting walking routes.
Superb food and wine, first-class guestrooms and facilities and a marvellous ambience.
Prices include all meals and drinks.
2022: No Single Supplement – Free Train Station Transfers – Flexible Booking Terms
Make enquiry

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.

Price information

£1185To£1290 excluding flights
Convert currency:
Based at a great little Maison d'Hôte in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, western France.
Many varied and interesting walking routes.
Superb food and wine, first-class guestrooms and facilities and a marvellous ambience.
Prices include all meals and drinks.
Make enquiry

Check dates, prices & availability

Travel guides

France walking
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Holiday information

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.
Travelling by train:
Travellers by train take the Eurostar from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare du Nord (3hr 30mins). Cross Paris by Metro (30mins), Bus (30mins) or Taxi to Paris Gare Montparnasse. TGV (fast train) from Montparnasse to Niort (2hrs). A transfer service collects guests at Niort train station for the journey by car to the Maison d’Hôte (40mins). The transfer service is generally without charge in both directions. Eurostar and TGV travel tends to be less expensive for earlier reservations. Alternatively, The Folkestone EuroTunnel terminal is accessible from M25 and M20 exit 11A. Le shuttle journey time to Calais is 35 minutes. Calais to the Maison d’Hôte is a 6½ hour drive on free flowing motorways. To shorten the journey, it can be an attractive extension to your holiday to stop-over in France - there is a wealth of appealing localities between Calais and la Maison d’Hôte. The proprietors of la Maison d’Hôte will be pleased to forward directions.


20 Reviews of Self guided walking holiday in France

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 23 Oct 2021 by

Walking in the sunshine down quiet paths and country roads, not another person in sight, just birds and butterflies. Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Aug 2019 by

Just what I needed. Restful, easy, a real holiday. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Jul 2019 by

The most memorable part of the holiday was the wonderful hosts and food Read full review

Reviewed on 30 Jun 2019 by

Peter and Carolynn source as much as they could locally, especially the wine. Read full review

Reviewed on 11 Jun 2019 by

Excellent ! Friendly welcoming hosts, good accommodation and great food and drink. The holiday had all the best elements of a home stay with friends. Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Jun 2019 by

Excellent, we had a great time! The camaraderie with the owners, Peter and Carolynn, and the other guests at dinner was memorable. Read full review

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

Responsible Travel

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.


The proprietors and hosts of the holidays, Carolynn Grimaldi and Peter Roche, are committed to protection of the environment with respect all things relating to the wellbeing of humanity to the maximum extent consistent with the means and resources available to them and they promise to continue so to do.

The holidays enable guests to enjoy the delightful countryside, to appreciate local places of historical, cultural and natural interest and to indulge in an abundance of wholesome local food – beautifully prepared and complemented with plenty of excellent wines of the region – in an amicable atmosphere; all this with negligible adverse impact on the environment.

The region has a huge diversity of trees, wild flowers, animals, birds, butterflies and aquatic creatures. Local biodiversity is almost certainly unharmed by the holidays. The local population density is only 34 inhabitants per square kilometre and guest capacity of the Maison d'Hôte is limited to eight or ten guests, whereas the region is vast and fertile. A balance of good soil fertility, sunshine and sufficient rainfall ensures that minor upsets to the local flora and fauna are rapidly reconciled. Natural habitats are not under pressure as a result the holidays.

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 and land owners 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 unnecessarily clear natural growth from the banks in order to nurture natural habitat for aquatic and land plants and animals.

Food miles in respect of the superb cuisine on the holidays are relatively very favourable, thus minimising pollution from transportation. A quantity of fresh vegetables is supplied from the nearby garden of Pierrot (Pierrot is aware of this). Organic beef comes from Bernard who farms adjacently. Other ingredients are local in so far as practicable.

The copious quantities of first-class wines served on the holidays (and all included in the price) are local from Anjou, Bordeaux, Fiefs Vendéen and other wine producing areas in France. Many of the wines are direct from the vineyards. Thus, the wine-miles may also be considered to be favourable.

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 the holidays.

Most journeys on behalf of the Maison d'Hôte are made using a relatively low-emissions, fuel-efficient hybrid car.

On arrival at the Maison d’Hôte, guests receive as a gift a smart stainless-steel vacuum flask as an investment toward reduction in single use plastic bottles for drinking water. The 50cl stainless steel flasks can also be used for almost all other types of beverage and are of course recyclable. This is only a partial solution since on a hot day of walking or cycling and individual needs more than 50cl of fluids – it is expected that a more practical solution will eventually be established.

An energy efficient fridge filled with a variety of drinks is always at the free disposal of guests. The contents of the fridge include easy-to-carry 50cl plastic bottles of mineral water. Guests are encouraged to refill the plastic bottles (and to fill and refill their stainless-steel vacuum flasks) with the very drinkable cool piped water supplied from the nearby barrage at Mervent (this water has been recycled by Nature, not by Lyonnaise des Eaux). Refilling saves both energy and pollution in connection with manufacture, transportation and disposal of plastic bottles.

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. The logs are cut from onsite woods to avoid impact from transportation to point of use and dried naturally to avoid impact from the process of kiln drying. Regarding the carbon cycle of trees, it is noted that older trees are less effective at trapping carbon than newer growth. In the region of the Maison d’Hôte, new woodland growth is remarkably vigorous. It is therefore concluded that heating by logs in such circumstances ranks favourably vis-à-vis environmental considerations. Auxiliary heating – when the outside temperature drops below -2 or -3°C, – is by gas central heating using a fuel-efficient boiler (2017 norms).

A post-lady collects as well as delivers mail, thus eliminating the need for numerous individual journeys to the village post office.

Packed lunches are provided in non-plastic bio-degradable bags.

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

Environmentally respectful cleaning products are used at the Maison d'Hôte.

The “carbon footprint” of city dwellers could well be less on the holidays compared with home. The Maison d'Hôte exists without the need for a significant carbon emitting infrastructure – and guests’ activities consist mainly of walking, cycling, relaxing, eating and sleeping in an idyllic rural environment.

26 November 2011, updated 6 September 2019


The proprietors and hosts of the holidays, Carolynn Grimaldi and Peter Roche, are an integrated part of the community in which the holidays are operated. In the past the community has been detrimentally affected by lack of economic activity resulting in reduced population. Today, thanks to investment and an influx of new residents, including the proprietors of the holidays, 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 these holidays, with local provenance to the maximum extent practically possible, and all services required in connection with this holiday.

The Maison d'Hôte represents a social and economic asset in a tiny 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 revitalize 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. (The region was 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 has been seen officially 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 restoring some significant historic sites to attract visitors. Restoration work has been sympathetically carried out and with innovative and dynamic ideas, together with the dramatic 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 the holidays 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 holidays are purchased locally and much of it is produced locally.

The holiday facilities have been acquired by an external investment into 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.

27 November 2011, updated 7 September 2019

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