Nouvelle Aquitaine self guided bicycling vacation, France

Departure information

Vacations commence on most Sundays between April and October

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Nouvelle Aquitaine self guided bicycling vacation, France


The proprietors and hosts of this vacation, 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 vacation 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 vacation. 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 vacation.

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 vacation 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 vacation (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 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 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 vacation.
• 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 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 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 vacation 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 proprietors and hosts of this vacation, Carolynn Grimaldi and Peter Roche, are an integrated part of the community in which this vacation 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 vacation, 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 vacation, with local provenance to the maximum extent practically possible, and all services required in connection with this vacation.
Carolynn Grimaldi and Peter Roche – Scillé, France 27 November 2011

The perception that the vacation guests at this Maison d'Hôte represent a social and economic asset is widely acknowledged in this remote rural community.

The vacation 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 vacation 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 vacation are purchased locally and much of it is produced locally.
• 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.

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.

Reviews of Nouvelle Aquitaine self guided bicycling vacation, France

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 22 Oct 2013 by

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

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 travelers booking this vacation?

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 vacation 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 vacation overall?

Excellent. Accommodation was first class. Hosts were excellent. Environment refreshing and relaxing. The vacation 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 vacation?

The amazing atmosphere created by Carolynn & Peter....which includes the best week of eating on vacation 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 travelers booking this vacation?

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 vacation 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 vacation overall?

Fantastic! We would highly recommend this vacation 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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