Horse riding holiday in France

“Great riding matched by warm hospitality at a welcoming maison d’hote in rural France. Enjoy peaceful hacks by day and sociable en famille dinners with great wine and conversation each evening.”


Centre-based holiday at beautiful rural Maison d’Hôte | friendly riding at nearby equestrian centre | well behaved horses | novices to experienced riders | indoor and outdoor schools | walking and cycling also available | well-maintained pool, terrace and other amenities | civilised picnic by the fishing lakes | hospitality second to none | top-notch food | convivial evening meals | marvellous atmosphere | all meals and drinks included

Description of Horse riding holiday in France

Enjoy excellent riding along miles of quiet lanes and paths through the wonderful scenery of Poitou-Charentes on this six-night horse riding holiday in France. Hack out in the mornings on well behaved horses, then spend the rest of your time relaxing by the heated pool or exploring the historic and cultural sites of this region, rated by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 tourist destinations in the world. This holiday offers a winning combination of riding through lovely countryside and warm hospitality at a guesthouse with a lovely ambience, and all reasonably priced.

This is a single centre holiday, and your base is a small, beautiful Maison d’Hôte (guesthouse) in a deeply rural pocket of France that’s nevertheless easy to access. You’ll experience exceptional hospitality. The bonhomie and house-party feel here is an outstanding feature of each holiday, as important as the activities, and something guests always greatly enjoy. This has a lot of do with evening aperitifs at seven followed by a leisurely en famille meal with superb food, excellent wine, lively conversation and a marvellous ambiance. All the food served uses wholesome local ingredients, skilfully prepared and presented.

Riding is based at a neighbouring farm, on an hourly basis, pre-arranged for up to two hours per day. Lessons are also available. The English-speaking guide is BHSAI qualified and is also very knowledgeable about the surrounding countryside. The horses are well cared for and well mannered. If you need transport your hosts at the Maison d’Hôte will take you to and from the riding facility. The season is from May to September and six-night riding holidays commence on most Sunday afternoons throughout the season.

Having enjoyed a morning hack, or on days when you decide to give riding a miss, there are lots of other things to do. Walking and cycling is excellent here, and bikes can be hired on a daily basis. There are also beautiful villages and historical sites to visit, to round out your trip.

You pay locally for your horse riding, at the rate of €20 to €30 per hour. Everything else on this holiday is included in the price. So that’s accommodation and use of facilities, breakfasts, packed lunches, aperitifs and each evening’s four-course meal. All coffee, tea, wine, beer, cider and soft drinks are included. Tea and coffee are also available in the rooms and there is a well-stocked drinks fridge available 24/7, without charge. Relax knowing that there are no hidden extras to pay for on this holiday – even the postcards are free.

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27 Sep 2020
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11 Oct 2020
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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

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.
“This Maison d'Hôte is 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 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 Auberge 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 Auberge 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 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 vehicular transportation in connection with the Maison d'Hôte is made using a hybrid car.
• An energy efficient fridge filled with beer, cider, fruit juices, soft drinks and wine is always at the free disposal of guests. The fridge also contains 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 transporting the energy source.
• 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 Auberge, to evaluate their efficacy.

The carbon footprint of city dwellers could well be less on this holiday compared their carbon foot print at home. This obviously depends upon where and how a city dweller lives, however, bear in mind that the Auberge exists without the need for a significant carbon emitting infrastructure – and you will be just riding horses and relaxing in a beautiful rural idyll.

The Impacts of this Trip

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 26 November 2011

The perception that the holiday guests at this Maison d'Hôte represent a social and economic asset is widely acknowledged 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.

The local inhabitants consider that the Maison d'Hôte is a part of the local culture and an asset in the life of the community. Consequently guests at the Maison d'Hôte are also locally liked and respected.


3 Reviews of Horse riding holiday in France

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 08 Oct 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Sitting round the table at dinner and sampling the wines and eating lovely
food with our hosts Caroline and Peter.

Lovely riding with Sarah. She picked out the perfect horse for me.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Best to have a car or a cycle. It's lovely and quiet to relax but you need
transport to go anywhere.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes on all counts. All produce was purchased as local as possible. Any excess
food was recycled via the chickens.

Recycle bins avaialbe for use by guests.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

A fantastic place which lived up to my expectations.

The rooms were very clean and well thought out. There were lots of little
thoughtful things available like walking sticks umbrellas and a drying room.

Both Peter and Caroline looked after us very well. Peter was host at dinner
and made sure we all got to know each other and was very generous with the
wine. I felt as though I was attending a dinner party with friends. Caroline
prepared lovely food for us and made sure anyone with dietry requirements
were well catered for but in a very subtle way.

The information pack in the room were the most comprehensive I have ever had,
and Peter was always on hand to look up any further information when

Read the operator's response here:

Bonjour Kathy,

We are delighted that your holiday with us met with your approval and we were very happy when we read your comments to Responsible Travel.

For our part it was a pleasure having you as our guest and for us too, each evening felt like a dinner party with friends. Better than that in fact, friends are friends in spite of their faults whereas our guests, as well as being a lot of fun, were also considerate and nice.

Thank you for making the effort to pass on your comments to Responsible Travel.

Kind regards,
Carolynn and Peter

Reviewed on 18 Apr 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Riding in unknown rural France with horses up country tracks and beneath trees in occasional woodland. Meeting other riders and brushing up my French whilst the instructor brushed up my riding skills!
The other memorable thing was the stunning location and the amazing hospitality of the owners. Nothing was too much trouble for them and I felt really well looked after and entertained. Carolynn and Peter make you feel so welcome and the cooking and the delightful wines were a real treat!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

You may need to hire a car if you want to visit some of the places a bit further afield but there is plenty to see and do around the guest house if the weather is good, which it usually is. Then again, perhaps not a good idea to congest the local tracks and small car park.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes since we ate the local farmed food mainly, either from nearby farmers or good local suppliers. They are genuinely pleased if you like what they produce. I felt they tried to keep power supplies down as far as they could and was not wasteful in use of resources.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent. This is a fine place to stay! With lovely people and surroundings.

Reviewed on 19 Jul 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

A walk in the moonlight.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Stay an extra week!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Ten out of ten.

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