Vegetarian vacations in France

“Leave your cares behind and enter Maison d'Hôte for an all-inclusive week of fine veggie dining. Relaxing rural retreat with heated pool and friendly hosts.”


Gloriously rural setting in Poitou-Charentes | Converted 16th century mill house with heated pool | All-inclusive drinks and food | Fantastic vegetarian and vegan meals | Warm and friendly hosts | Sociable meal times | Walking and cycling maps and route plans | Variety of bikes for hire | Nearby spots include: la Rocher Branlant, l’Absie village, Coulonges-sur-l’Autise market, le Beugnon lakes, Faymoreau mines, Marais Poitevin, sympathetically restored abbeys at Nueil-sur-l’Autize and Maillezais, the Marais Poitevin, Mervent Forest and Vouvant |

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Vegetarian vacations in 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.
''This maison d'Hôte is 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 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). 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.
* 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 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 Auberge, 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 Auberge 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 (twenty-five years ago), 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'Hote 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 and developed 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 of 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.

4 Reviews of Vegetarian vacations in France

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 24 May 2012 by

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

The very friendly and helpful hosts.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Both hiking and cycling were enjoyable activities, even if the weather was a bit cooler than expected.

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

Yes, food was very good and all from the local area.

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

We only spent 3 days at Le Moulin and therefore did not get to explore the area as much as we wanted to.

Reviewed on 11 Jul 2011 by

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

The hospitality of our hosts.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Look forward to a great vacation in a beautiful, secluded locations.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Reviewed on 10 Oct 2011 by

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

Strolling among green rolling hills, along country streams and through tiny French hamlets, the feeling of being miles away from city stress; surrounded by butterflies, birdsong and wildflowers. A wonderfully calming and tranquil vacation rather than an "exciting" one. Should also mention the great hospitality shown by our hosts, delicious home cooked food and generous introductions to local wines and brandies!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

If you are looking for somewhere really secluded to unwind and relax with good food, wine and a bit of activity (walking and cycling) then this place is hard to beat. The scenery is beautiful in a gentle pastoral way and the pace is slow so it's not a vacation for thrill seekers.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, the hosts work hard to support the environment and local community.

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

A lovely relaxing time.

Reviewed on 24 Aug 2010 by

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

Peace and quiet, being the only guest and able to swim, relax outside by the pool at my leisure.

Walking great (nice having routes mapped out which you could follow/adapt without too much effort) in tranquil countryside. Picnic day a nice touch - the family met me on my walk bringing the food and wine with them! Lovely environment, attractive/clean accommodation and I enjoyed having the full-board (hostess a very good cook, host generous with the drinks!).

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Fine if you are alone; felt very safe walking locally. Hardly any traffic on the roads. Neighbours friendly - it's useful to be able to speak French of course. Dinner guests are invited occasionally and you are included. Would also be fun if there were other vacationmakers or you came with someone, I'm sure, because the family are friendly and like a convivial atmosphere especially at table. You can borrow books; towels changed mid-week and post cards provided for you to send a message home. It was good being picked up from the train station at Niort and dropped back there again at the end - Peter was very organised & it meant there were no buses or taxis to worry about.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Don't think there was any wind/solar energy; a log fire in winter I think; some recycling. Because I walked/took the train/got lifts when the family were doing other things on the same trip I feel I did quite well on the transport.

The enterprise seems well-integrated in the locality and had regional products for sale; used local/French produce. Some employment created. If you were driving around or cycling further afield you'd be able to spend more money in the community than I did perhaps - only the occasional bar on my walks, no shops though I did spend in Niort.

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

As I hadn't been abroad for some time this was an excellent way to begin traveling again because of the six days in one place - didn't have to do a lot of planning myself, no hassle and I could really wind down and relax. I used the opportunity to stay over in Lille for a couple of nights so fitted in a town/city break too. I hadn't spent any time in Lille or the region where the accommodation is situated & I appreciated going somewhere new. Excellent to be back in France generally, so on the whole a success and one of the best vacations I've enjoyed thank-you.

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