France self guided cycling holiday
Enjoy lengthy daily distances as you discover the delights of rural France by bike before returning to base for fine cuisine and convivial conversation. All-inclusive food, drink and bike-friendly facilities.
Countryside setting in Poitou-Charentes Converted 16th-century mill house with heated pool Well maintained car-free rural roads Route cards, gradient profiles and maps provided Secure bike storage, bike workshop, washing and drying facilities Friendly English-speaking hosts Sociable evening meals and aperitifs Nearby spots include: Coulonges-sur-l’Autise market, le Beugnon lakes, abbeys at Nueil-sur-l’Autize and Maillezais, Mervent Forest and Vouvant
Description of France self guided cycling holiday
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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.
We have four Bernese Mountain Dogs who are loved by our guests once they meet them. However, if any guest is concerned about their presence, we have kennels and runs where the dogs can happily go while our guests are enjoying their time here. No dogs are allowed in the kitchen or dining areas. Our dogs are walked regularly and spend part of their year in the UK as they are show and breeding dogs so it is unusual for them all to be here at the same time. Please let us know if you have any concerns and we will make appropriate plans for them.
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.
PlanetThis 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 a wonderful ambiance.
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 Chambre d'Hôte is limited to 12 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.
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 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 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.
PeopleThe hosts of this holiday are an integrated part of the community in which this holiday is operated. The 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.
The fact that Le Moulin du Chemin represents 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 up to 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 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. 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 Chambre 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 grown locally.
• The holiday facilities have been acquired by 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 Le Moulin are considered to be cultural asset in the life of the community and are liked and respected by local inhabitants.
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