France wellbeing vacation

Departure information

Vacations commence on most Sundays between April and October
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: France wellbeing vacation

Environment

As residents at a rural Maison d'Hôte (Guest House) your hosts Carolynn Grimaldi and Peter Roche are committed to an ethical and moral responsibility to minimise negative impacts and maximise benefits with respect to the the environment. The ways in which this is done is outlined below.

Avoid detriment to the natural environment. Wellbeing (bien-être) is a feature of rural life in the region. Against this background, the activities undertaken by guests at the Maison d'Hôte include walking, cycling and simply relaxing as well as bird watching, horse-riding, painting, etc, in the delightful countryside. Guests also visit local places of historical, cultural and natural interest and indulge in an abundance of wholesome local food and excellent wines and soak-up the wonderful rural ambiance. None of these activities has a significant adverse effect on the environment.

Avoid harm to the balance of bio-diversity. Local biodiversity is unlikely to be harmed by these vacations. The permanent population is sparse; the guest capacity of the Maison d'Hôte is limited to ten, whereas the region is vast and verdant. The balance of good soil fertility, plenty of sunshine and enough rainfall ensures that any minor upsets to local natural state are rapidly reconciled. Natural habitats are not under pressure as a result this vacation.

Preservation of local watercourses in natural state. A charter for the preservation of watercourses in their natural state engages the Auberge and local farmers in avoidance of watercourse-pollution and in watercourse-maintenance to 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.

Use local produce as far as possible to minimise food miles. Food miles in respect of the superb cuisine at the Auberge are relatively very favourable, thus minimising transportation pollution. 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 generous quantities of excellent wine served at le Moulin (and included in the price) are local, from the Loire, 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 vacation 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 the fact of 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 enough people are willing to make similar efforts. Here are some small environmentally friendly things that happen on this vacation.
- We advocate consumption of less meat as a means to lessen the significant impact of greenhouse gasses from cattle and sheep production (although if you wish we will still serve you plenty of meat).
- An energy efficient fridge filled with beer, cider, soft drinks and wine is always at the free disposal of guests. The fridge also contains small bottles of mineral water, because small bottles are easy to carry. Guests are asked to refill the small bottles with the very drinkable piped water supplied from the barrage at Mervent (this water has been recycled by Nature, not by Lyonnais des Eaux). Refilling the bottles saves energy and pollution in plastic manufacture, disposal and transportation.
- Waste arising from the vacation 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 as necessary by an energy efficient heat pump.

If you are a city dweller, your carbon footprint could well be more if you stay at home rather than when you are away on this vacation. This obviously depends upon where and how you live, but bear in mind you will be on vacation, pottering about on foot, on a bike or just pottering about in a rural idyll which has no need for a carbon emitting infrastructure.

Community

Your hosts Carolynn Grimaldi and Peter Roche are committed to an ethical and moral responsibility to support the community of which the Maison d'Hôte is part. Some details of what this intails follows below.

The Maison d'Hôte 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 small-scale fruit farming, timber exploitation and cattle production that exist in the region are insufficient to support enough population 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. Tourism is officially seen as a means of generating additional economic activity, by attracting visitors to the region, thereby creating tourist infrastructure jobs 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 to help support the otherwise declining community. The ideas to make the restorations come alive are dynamic, with large doses of French flair, and the restoration work is sympathetically achieved. These sites are worth making an effort to see and your visit will be appreciated.

The Auberge is family owned and operated within a 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 vacation possible are beneficial to the local community. Livelihoods of local suppliers and artisans are enhanced due to the fact that all resources in connection with this vacation are local, as follows.
- Staff in connection with provision of meals, drinks and housekeeping services is local.
- Food and drinks provided for the vacation are purchased locally and much of it is local produce.
- The vacation facilities have been acquired by an investment in the local community.
- Materials and labour for maintenance and development of the vacation facilities are procured locally.

The single centre vacations offered by the Maison d'Hôte have many advantages relative to hotel to hotel vacations more generally offered. One of the pleasures of spending a number of days in one place is that you become acquainted with the friendly local people. Amongst those you may meet are Pierrot and Monique who live nearby and grow vegetables, Old Farmer Pierre Thomas in his garden at the next mill upstream, Marcel Richard with his magnificent Parthenaise cows, Bernard who organically rears Limousin cows on the adjacent farm and Alain who tends the roadside verges. You will feel more like a part of the community and less like a tourist. In the region around the Maison d'Hôte , if you mention where you are staying, the reaction of the locals lets you know you are welcome.

The presence of the Maison d'Hôte in this remote rural community, and the guests this vacation brings to the region, are perceived by the local inhabitants as an asset and the benefits to the local economy are well acknowledged.

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