Nouvelle Aquitaine self guided cycling holiday, France

“Relaxed, self guided cycling from a sociable guesthouse offering exceptional hospitality. All meals included, with leisurely en famille dinners featuring great wine and lively conversation a highlight.”


Centre-based holiday at fabulous little Maison d’Hôte | many cycling circuits to explore directly from the guesthouse | all cycling abilities from introductory to challenging | fully equipped bikes | highlighted maps & clear route notes | heated pool | convivial en-famille meals | superb food & wines | price covers all meals and drinks | wonderful ambiance

Description of Nouvelle Aquitaine self guided cycling holiday, France

Explore beautiful Nouvelle Aquitaine in France on this self guided cycling holiday, based at a beautiful guesthouse buried deep in the countryside. A paradise for cyclists, this region boasts hundreds of miles of surfaced lanes threading through idyllic undulating countryside. You will meet almost no other traffic as you cycle, and any drivers you come across are generally extremely considerate to cyclists. You will be staying at a lovely Maison d’Hôte where the hospitality is exceptional. Wonderful cuisine, based on wholesome local ingredients, is served at every meal – guaranteed to satisfy a cyclist’s appetite after a day exploring on two wheels.

Cycling routes begin and end at the guesthouse and suit experienced and moderately experienced cyclists, with max distances of 20 miles. Routes can be adjusted for anyone with limited cycling experience, but you will need to be fit to enjoy the cycling. Fully equipped touring bikes, maps and clear route notes are all supplied, and you will be backed up with friendly support and information. When not in the saddle, there is wonderful walking to do straight from the guesthouse, and this region of France boasts plenty of historical and cultural sights to explore, too.

The bonhomie and house-party like feel you’ll enjoy at the Maison d’Hôte is an outstanding feature of each holiday, as important as the activities enjoyed each day, and something guests always comment on warmly. 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. Rooms are all beautifully designed and there is a heated pool to enjoy, too.

This holiday begins on Sunday afternoons, from May to September. The trip price includes absolutely everything, from accommodation to all meals and each evening’s leisurely four-course dinner. All coffee, tea, wine, beer, cider and soft drinks are included – tea and coffee are also available in the rooms and you can help yourself to the well-stocked drinks fridge 24/7, without charge. Bikes and routes are covered by the price, too, so that there are no extra charges at all – even the postcards are free!

You can get here by EuroStar and TGV to Niort, by road, with good links to many cross channel ferry ports and by air, flying into La Rochelle, Poitiers, Nantes or Paris CDG. The Maison d’Hôte is 100km inland from La Rochelle and 100km south of the Loire.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

Check dates, prices & availability

11 Oct 2020
excluding flights

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.
“The proprietors of this Maison d'Hôte 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 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'Hôte 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 journeys on behalf of the Maison d'Hôte are 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 Maison d'Hôte, 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 Maison d'Hôte exists without the need for a significant carbon emitting infrastructure – and you will be just riding a bike and relaxing in a beautiful rural environment.

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 27 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.

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


5 Reviews of Nouvelle Aquitaine self guided cycling holiday, France

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 04 Oct 2019 by

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

Friendly place . Felt right at home. Comfortable lodging and excellent food. Great hosts.

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

This is an ideal place to rest and relax. It is in the middle of nowhere. No people , no traffic. Nice scenery but always the same.

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


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


Reviewed on 11 Oct 2018 by

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

A friendly and lovely guesthouse to come back to after a day of cycling was certainly memorable. We jumped into the pool and then rested under umbrellas
until time for aperitifs at 7pm. Carolyn and Peter were so hospitable and looked after every need. Carolyn's gourmet meals were a highlight of the evenings and the conviviality among the guests spawned deep conversations. Peter was so knowledgeable about European culture and history. He also provided great bikes along with suggestions for routes, both long and short, each day.

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

Know that you can plan your days based on energy: both long and short trips for walking and cycling are available. And you don't have to do anything if you

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

Definitely. All food was local, to include the endless wine offerings. They have deep relationships in the community with local farmers and other food

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

Superb in every way. We will enthusiastically recommend to others.

Reviewed on 29 Apr 2017 by

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

The people were fabulous both the hosts and guests. Competent, kind, thoughtful hosts. Great food and lovely setting great cycling and walking.

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

They have a lovely outdoor pool that is poorly advertised but is heated so bring a costume! Hilly area for cycling so padded shorts recommended. Dress is casual at all times. The wine is plentiful and included and delicious. They have tea/coffee
making facilities in rooms unlike most French hotels. English speaking hosts.

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


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

I can't fault this holiday, definitely planning on returning in the summer with friends.

Read the operator's response here:

Merci beaucoup for your lovely comments Nicki. It was a fun week for us as well. Speaking for the other guests it was clear they very much enjoyed it too. We will be delighted if you can manage to get back in the summer. With kind regards Carolynn and Peter.

Reviewed on 22 Oct 2013 by

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

The tranquility of the location and the care taken by the hosts to ensure you derived the most from your time there.

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

If you are cycling be aware that there are quite a few long slow ascents.
Do not expect to speak much French as the location is remote and encounters with locals are infrequent.
If driving from Brittany, allow 6/7 hours to take in the rural countryside and use the excellent A and B roads , thereby avoiding the soulless motorways.

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

Food sourced locally. Bikes mended locally. Excursions to local underused tourist attractions. Little car use required once at venue. Cycling and walking had little negative environmental impact.
Yes, the benefit to the local community was good.

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

Excellent. Accommodation was first class. Hosts were excellent. Environment refreshing and relaxing. The holiday lived up to the blurb on the website!

Reviewed on 28 Oct 2012 by

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

The amazing atmosphere created by Carolynn & Peter....which includes the best week of eating on holiday we have ever had! The suggestions for cycling as well as car touring during inclement weather days helped make it a diverse and well-rounded week.

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

Be prepared to create as much activity or as little as you desire day-by-day. Having a car was helpful as the weather wasn't perfect so we were able to explore the area in greater depth with a vehicle on a couple of days.

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

Yes to all of the above. It was clear that the hosts cared greatly about the local provenance of their food.....which not only benefits the local farming community but also lessened the environmental impact regarding transportation.

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

Fantastic! We would highly recommend this holiday to friends/family who might be interested in experiencing local culture in the French countryside in combination with hiking and/or biking.

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