Self guided walking vacation in France

“Our only self-guided walking vacation in Poitou-Charentes region, staying at a family run guest house where hiking, cycling, great food, wine and company are what life's all about.”


Scillé | Les Cinq Communes Walk | Le Beugnon Lakes Picnic | Route de Fenioux | Faymoreau | Marais Poitevin (Green Venice) | Butchers Wood walk | Vouvant | Swimming pool | Excellent food and wine

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01 Sep 2019
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08 Sep 2019
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22 Sep 2019
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27 Sep 2019
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Our top tip:
Easy to reach by TGV train from Paris, stopping at Niort station, where your hosts can meet you.
Trip type:
Self-guided, center based.
Activity level:
Leisurely. 14-20 kms per day.
Family-run guesthouse with pool.
Accommodation, all meals, all drinks, walking itineraries.
Solo travelers welcome. One single room available with no surcharge per week.

Responsible tourism

Self guided walking vacation in France

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.


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'Hote 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 excellent 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'Hote 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 first-class 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.

Most journeys on behalf of the Maison d'Hôte are made using a hybrid car.

An energy efficient fridge filled with a variety of drinks is always at the free disposal of guests. The contents of the fridge include 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 transportation to point of use, and dried undercover over years (depending on the type of wood) thus removing necessity for kiln drying. Auxiliary heating (when the outside temperature drops below -2 or -3°C) is by gas central heating using a fuel efficient boiler (2017 norms).

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 footprint 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 walking, relaxing eating and sleeping 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 Maison d'Hôte represents a social and economic asset 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 liked and respected by local inhabitants.

23 Reviews of Self guided walking vacation in France

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 05 Aug 2019 by

Just what I needed. Restful, easy, a real vacation. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Jul 2019 by

The most memorable part of the vacation was the wonderful hosts and food Read full review

Reviewed on 30 Jun 2019 by

Peter and Carolynn source as much as they could locally, especially the wine. Read full review

Reviewed on 11 Jun 2019 by

Excellent ! Friendly welcoming hosts, good accommodation and great food and drink. The vacation had all the best elements of a home stay with friends. Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Jun 2019 by

Excellent, we had a great time! The camaraderie with the owners, Peter and Carolynn, and the other guests at dinner was memorable. Read full review

Reviewed on 06 Aug 2018 by

It was a perfect vacation... The lodging was excellent nestled in greens with lots of hiking and biking trails to choose from, all meticulously planned out by the owner Peter. Food was superb, prepared by Carolyn, Peter’s wife who ran the place immaculately. This place is actually perfect or simply lazing around for a few days, sipping on limitless wine and taking a dip in the pool. Read full review

Reviewed on 22 Jul 2018 by

Top drawer! Read full review

Reviewed on 15 Jul 2018 by

One of the best breaks I have ever had. Carolyn and Peter look after you so well. I am a solo traveler and sometimes you can feel isolated but not this time!!! Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Aug 2018 by

The vacation was...Very enjoyable - our hosts were very helpful and hospitable. There are some good walks in this area and the accommodation provides detailed guides. Read full review

Reviewed on 22 Jun 2017 by

Truly great value and the fact that most of the guests had been before and one set I think 12 times makes its own point. Read full review

Reviewed on 11 Jun 2017 by

The beautiful countryside, great food, wine and company. Our hosts Carolyn and Peter were great fun, interesting conversationalists and they run a lovely home. I walked my legs off and swam in the pool every day. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 May 2017 by

The most memorable part was the hospitality of the hosts. Read full review

Reviewed on 10 Oct 2016 by

Excellent, really good food, drink and company brilliant location, great outdoor space, really appreciated the swimming pool Read full review

Reviewed on 06 Aug 2016 by

Best bits: The lovely walks the evening dinners Read full review

Reviewed on 26 May 2016 by

I would highly recommend this vacation for bikers or walkers like my wife and I. Read full review

Reviewed on 14 Sep 2015 by

Excellent. Can't say I feel reborn as the muscles still ache a bit - but certainly refreshed with a smile on our faces. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Aug 2015 by

The beautiful countryside waiting to be explore everyday, and returning back to an amazing 4 course meal every evening. A lovely combination. All enjoyed at my own pace. Read full review

Reviewed on 22 Jul 2014 by

Really ,really good, relaxing and refreshing. You will be very well looked after and feel genuinely welcome. Read full review

Reviewed on 24 May 2014 by

This was an excellent vacation. Our hosts were wonderful, the other guests (all British) were delightful, and the hikes, food, and wine were exceptional. Read full review

Reviewed on 02 Oct 2012 by

We particularly enjoyed the convivial company at meal times and our hosts taking the time to share meals and local insight with us. Carol's cooking combined the best of local produce and traditional French cookery. Read full review

Reviewed on 06 Apr 2012 by

Most memorable part of this vacation were the swaithes of wild flowers - cowslip, primrose, oxlip, violets, wild garlic. Birdsong in peaceful woodland, sometimes walking for miles without seeing anyone else. Read full review

Reviewed on 08 May 2011 by

I would thoroughly recommend this vacation to anyone wanting a break from the hustle and bustle of modern life. The hosts encourage you into a very relaxed and idyllic way of life, respecting and learning about the local customs and culture. I guarantee that you will relax, unwind and not want to go home! Read full review

Reviewed on 15 Aug 2010 by

The hospitality of our hosts was the most memorable part. 10 out of 10. Read full review

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