The Vendee Manor House

Sainte Hermine, Loire Valley, France Book from Book from £360 per night

A blissful 5-bedroom house rental tucked between the Loire and the coast, perfect for large families and small groups (sleeps 10-16)
Drive through the gates, feel the peace, unwind, and drink a toast - with a glass of Winston Churchill’s favourite champagne, no less - to your good fortune in finding this place. Two creative, Francophile Canadians have transformed this 17th-century manor house into a wonderfully spoiling Gallic home-from-home. Intimate yet grand, it's the kind of place which makes your holiday feel very special, but without overpowering you - or your bank account. Old and new are in perfect harmony here - rustic floorboards handsomely revived, an antique cabinet bright with glasses, a huge hammock slung between ancient trees. Start the day with homemade pancakes, pastries and raspberries from the gardens; end it by the smouldering log fire.

With 4 big bedrooms, and the option of adding a separate gite-for-four, it's perfect for large families or small groups of all ages. The owners, who live next door, have children of their own, so expect a good supply of books, babysitters and treats in the fridge. Nor are they short of ideas for trips out: the beaches of the Vendee's 'Coast of Light', the Renaissance town of Fontenay le Comte, the vineyards down the road. Walk into the lovely village of Ste. Hermine for supper (3 restaurants and a weekly market), or stock up on fresh groceries and cook yourselves an evening feast. Guests who stayed in its former guise as a B&B always raved about this welcoming slice of heaven; and what could be better than a whole week of that with friends or family?

Highs

  • Gorgeous, spacious suites with lots of spoiling touches and impeccable ensuite bathrooms
  • Idyllic gardens with ancient trees
  • Great owners who will help you make the most of the area, from wine trips to surf lessons and private chefs
  • An easy 45-min drive from Nantes and La Rochelle airports
  • Great value for a large French manor house rental

Lows

  • There's no pool, but you're near the Vendée's beautiful beaches
  • You'll need cars to get here and to explore the region
  • Minimum stay of 5 nights (in high season) or 3 nights (low)
  • Only one bedroom is twin-bedded
  • A stream at the far end of the grounds: watch little kids

Best time to go

The Vendée is known as the ‘Coast of Light’ for a reason: it’s blessed with as many hours of sunshine as the Côte d’Azur. Go at any time of year - you’ve got the hotel’s gorgeous grounds in spring and summer, and the lovely sitting room for the winter. The area gets busier in the peak months of July and August thanks to the beaches. Swimming and watersports are generally possible from mid-June to mid-September.

Our top tips

In La Rochelle, go beach-combing on Plage de la Concurrance near the Tour de la Lanterne (sandy and central but muddy at low tide), or bathe at Les Minimes near the marina (lifeguards). Then find a café overlooking the harbour and sip pineau des Charente, or mingle with the locals at the Cave de la Guignette.

On the Ile de Ré, rent a bike and explore the whitewashed villages, the salt plains and forests, the oyster shacks and the chic shops and markets of St Martin.

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
Romantic
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 5
  • Breakfast only (restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

There are 5 suites in the main house, each with its own sitting area and ensuite bathroom. Expect pale stone walls, sweeping wooden floors, perhaps a velvet chaise longue or striped fauteuil, tall windows hung with raw silk (pale pink for the Rose Suite, purple for Wisteria). Custom-made beds are super-kingsize, wrapped in white cotton, topped with white crochet or patchwork blanket, heaped with pillows.

If the bedrooms are heavenly, the bathrooms are impeccable. They have rainfall showers and deep ‘cocoon’ tubs for 2 (note, Rose and Sienna’s baths are in the bedroom itself).

Four suites have their original fireplaces, most have views to gardens and stream. All except ground-floor Sienna can accommodate a baby or child under 8, while Maple is perfect for 2 adults and 2 kids (plus a baby), with interconnecting double and twin rooms.

If you need more space, the recently renovated gite, attached to the main house, offers two basic double bedrooms and a shared bathroom with shower only. It has its own entrance and private patio, so could work well for grandparents or those wanting a bit of separation from the rest of your group.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The full-size kitchen is well kitted out, whether for casual breakfasts or cheffy dinners (talking of which, if there's a special occasion, do ask about their superb private chef: details below). There's a four-burner convection stove, full size oven, fridge/freezer and dishwasher, crockery and cutlery for 15 people, as well as plenty of pots, pans, storage and counter space. Essentials like dishwasher tabs, cleaning products, recycling bags and sponges are provided.

The owners can recommend some excellent places for dinner, starting with walkably-close Le Minage for enjoyable food at reasonable prices, with a good selection of wines and a patio for balmy evenings. Or hop in the car to the unassuming Le Saint-Georges in the village of Saint-Juire Champgillon, where chef Willie Lefay uses long-forgotten ingredients in his seasonal creations, with innovative and delicious results (not cheap, but refined).

But their favourite dinner treat is P’tits Ventres de Terre in La Roche-sur-Yon (25 mins' drive): a tiny place where chef Lionel Guilbaud fills small clay pots (like the traditional ‘Pot a Mogette’ used locally to cook white beans, but smaller - hence petits ventres) with innovatively blended ingredients topped by a brioche: charming and fun. If you like what you eat, you can book him to cook for you at home, and even give you a lesson in his art.

Further afield, La Rochelle is awash with (sea)foodie delights (45 mins' drive). Dig deep into your wallet and book a table at the 2-Michelin-starred Restaurant Coutanceau. The food is imaginative and faultless; tables overlook the sea so you can watch the sun go down.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Drive via the lovely seaside town of La Tranche-sur-Mer to find a string of beaches backing onto pine forests and dunes: park at Les Conches or La Terriere, or follow the road behind the dunes and pick one of the trails to the beach

  • The super knowledgeable owners can arrange vineyard tours down the road in Mareuil-sur-Lay (2 award-winning bio wineries); or further afield at Domaine Saint-Nicolas near Les Sables D’Olonne

  • Don't miss La Rochelle (45 mins), with its cobbled shopping streets, famed aquarium (one of the largest in Europe) and beaches

  • Just across the bridge is the Ile de Ré, where the beautiful Parisians go. It’s criss-crossed with cycle paths and wrapped in 30km of white beaches

  • Nantes (also 45 mins) is another wonderful a city of art, culture and gastronomy. Take a tour of the impressive Château des Ducs de Bretagne, the last château on the banks of the Loire before the ocean

  • With children, Puy du Fou is a must see, especially at night - a theme park with special effects that whisks you through the centuries: gladiators at the Roman Coliseum or Viking battles - it’s all here!

  • But do leave time to laze in the lovely house and gardens, and to walk (5 mins) into the pretty little village Ste. Hermine, which comes alive on Friday mornings when the market arrives

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Aquarium
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surf lessons
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Theme park
  • Well being
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Families are warmly welcomed and kids under 8 stay for free. Those with children will find the gardens a boon - lawns to roam, bushes to hide in, a paddling pool for tinies, and a swing and a slide. There’s more: cots, baby baths, highchairs, books, toys, DVDs, and a pushchair to borrow. For cosy nights in: a delivery from the local pizza restaurant and a baby monitor so you can eat downstairs. For nights out at restaurants: a trusted babysitter.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Gardenia, Wisteria and Rose can each sleep a family with 1 child (up to the age of 8); Maple Suite has interconnecting double and twin rooms - ideal for 2 adults, 2 children and a baby.

Babysitting:

On request - extra cost

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots with bedding
  • High chairs
  • A pushchair
  • Potty
  • Baby baths
  • Paddling pool
  • Baby monitor

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities on site:

  • Playground with swing and slide
  • Kids DVDs
  • Kids books and toys

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Municipal pool 2 minutes' walk away
  • Zoo
  • Beaches
  • Forest with hiking trails
  • The Puy du Fou amusement park
  • La Rochelle's aquarium

Families Should Know:

There is a stream at the back of the property, but it is fenced off.

Distances:

  • Airport: 45 minutes' drive (La Rochelle or Nantes)
  • Hospital: 15 minutes' drive
  • Shops and supermarket: 3 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

The Manor House is in the village of Ste. Hermine in the Vendée, a 45-minute drive from both Nantes and La Rochelle in the west of France.

By Air:
Fly into La Rochelle (53km) or Nantes (95km) airports, both a 45-minute drive, even though Nantes is further.

From the Airport
We would recommend hiring a car, as you'll need one for exploring, shopping etc.

By Train:
If you really don't want to drive, Luçon train station is 15km from the house - you can catch a taxi outside the station.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.

More on getting to France and getting around

Airports:

  • La Rochelle 53.0 km LRH
  • Nantes 95.0 km NTE

Other:

  • Beach 35.0 km
  • Shops 0.5 km
  • Restaurant 0.5 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

We stayed on the way back to the UK following our glamping holiday in the South West - needless to say, we felt like the gates of heaven had opened when we entered the driveway! Warren and Shari were the most welcoming and helpful hosts, making us feel instantly at home in a truly beautiful setting. Our children loved the garden, and we were very happy cosying up in the study each evening with the excellent,and very reasonable wine selection. The breakfast was slightly different each morning but equally delicious and presented beautifully. We stayed in the Maple Room which was perfect for our family of five, and the gorgeous interior decor throughout the house provided much inspiration. Warren's suggestion of a visit to a nearby waterpark on the last day was a complete hit and rounded off a fabulous 3 days. Thanks for creating such a wonderful place Warren and Shari - we'll be back!

10/10,

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