Manoir du Moulin

Sainte Hermine, Loire Valley, France Book from

Recommended awaiting i-escape review
Intimate but grand, a blissful 5-bedroom retreat in a charmed setting for romantics of all ages and families
Drive through the gates, feel the peace, unwind… and drink a toast to your good fortune in the shade of the trees with a glass of Winston Churchill’s favourite champagne. Warren and Shari have transformed this 17th-century manor house into one simple thing: a place you’ll want to come back to again and again. Start the day with homemade pancakes, pastries and raspberries from the gardens; end it by the smouldering log fire. Old and new are in perfect harmony here - rustic floorboards handsomely revived, an antique cabinet bright with glasses, towels so soft you can barely feel them, a huge hammock slung between the trees.

Heaven for romantics, it’s special for families, too. Your Canadian hosts, with 2 tots of their own, have thought of everything, from cots and Moses baskets to books, babysitters and fridges for baby treats. 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. Stroll through the kitchen garden, sniff the herbs, walk into the lovely village of Ste. Hermine for supper (3 restaurants and a weekly market). Return to warmth, elegance and leafy views, and hosts who love what they do. We're yet to stay but those who have say the charm of this place is unforgettable.

Highs

  • Just 5 gorgeous, spacious suites with lots of spoiling touches and a great price tag
  • Full of 17th-century character yet beautifully modern
  • Idyllic gardens with ancient trees
  • Hosts who know how to make you feel special - they will arrange anything from wine trips to holistic massage
  • An easy 45-min drive from Nantes and La Rochelle airports

Lows

  • You'll want a car to get here and to explore the region
  • No pool, but you're near the ‘Coast of Light’ and its beautiful beaches
  • No lunch or dinner served, unless you book onto one of their cookery courses
  • 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

Manoir du Moulin does a superb job hosting business gatherings and meetings, and activities can be arranged in the evenings, including dinners with respected chefs. The place is as special for business as it is for pleasure. And they organise wine and cookery courses.

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • 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

The sunny character of the suites reflects the owners’ spirit. You’ll love the old pale stone walls, the sweeping wooden floors, the tall windows hung with raw silk (pale pink for the Rose Suite, purple for Wisteria). The overall impression is one of space, comfort and modernity.

The furniture is custom-made and each room has a sitting area - a velvet chaise longue, a striped fauteuil, a big white rug to sink your toes into. Beds are super-kingsize, wrapped in white cotton, topped with white crochet or patchwork blanket, heaped with pillows. Bathrobes are in cotton velour, bed linen is sumptuous, there are fresh flowers. Simple bliss at its best.

Wake up and wallow in Compagnie de Provence bubbles - 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 of the suites have their original fireplaces, most have views to gardens and stream, and Sienna is on the ground floor. Each room except Sienna can accommodate a baby or child under 8, while Maple is perfect for 2 adults, 2 kids and a baby, with interconnecting double and twin rooms.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Fresh flowers
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Fruits and vegetables from the kitchen garden find their way to the breakfast room, to join a luscious array of homemade jams, muffins and pancakes (your hosts are Canadian, after all), along with the best local pastries, charcuterie and cheeses. There are eggs if you’d like them, raspberry fruit juice if you're lucky; nothing is too much trouble. The breakfast room is in effect a conservatory, with a black and white tiled floor, big windows and small tables overlooking the gardens - a gorgeous setting in every weather.

Feeling peckish? There are fridges on the ground and 1st floors for aperitifs, soft drinks and snacks during the day (crisps, nuts, chocolate, crackers, sweets etc). The prices are reasonable, and coffee and tea are always available. The small, stylish sitting room has a well-stocked honesty bar.

Warren and Shari can recommend many places for dinner, the closest of which is a short stroll away. Le Minage has a good selection of wines as well as enjoyable food at reasonable prices, and there’s a patio for balmy evenings. Or hop in the car to the little village of Saint-Juire Champgillon and the unassuming Le Saint-Georges. Here, chef Willie Lefay uses long-forgotten ingredients in his seasonal creations, and the results are innovative and delicious - not cheap, but refined.

P’tits Ventres de Terre in La Roche-sur-Yon (a 25-minute drive) is a tiny little place that embraces the spirit of Vendéan cuisine. The eponymous petits ventres de terre (small clay pots inspired by the Vendean ‘Pot a Mogette’), are crowned with bread or brioche. Charming and fun. And then there’s La Rochelle, awash with foodie (and seafoodie) delights. Dig deep into your wallet and book a table at the 2-Michelin-starred Restaurant Coutanceau. The food is imaginative, faultless, divine. Perfect for romance as the restaurant overlooks the sea so you can watch the sun go down.

Features include:

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

Activities

  • Read a book and soak up the sun in the beautiful grounds
  • Warren is super knowledgeable about wines and will help arrange vineyard tours. Down the road in Mareuil-sur-Lay are 2 wineries producing award-winning bio wines, Domaine J Mourat and Château de Rosnay. Slightly further afield is Domaine Saint-Nicolas near Les Sables D’Olonne
  • You can’t not visit La Rochelle, a 45-minute drive, with its cobbled shopping streets, famed aquarium (one of the largest in Europe) and beaches: the small Plage de la Concurrance, just past the Tour de la Lanterne (sandy and central but muddy at low tide), and Les Minimes, near the marina, a better bet for bathing, with lifeguards. Find a café overlooking the harbour and sip pineau des Charente or mingle with the locals at the Cave de la Guignette
  • 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, so 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
  • Nantes is also a 45-minute drive, 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 or without 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!
  • Just north of the lovely seaside town of La Tranche-sur-Mer is a string of beaches - La Terrière, Bud Bud and Les Conches - backing onto pine forests and dunes. You can park at Les Conches and La Terriere, or drive along the road behind the dunes and discover one of the trails to the beach
  • Closer to home… a 5-minute stroll brings you to the village square of Ste. Hermine, which comes alive on Friday mornings when the market comes to town. Grab a table, watch the world go by
  • Back at the Manoir: cookery lessons and dinners with world-renowned chefs, wine tastings with sommeliers, holistic massages - just ask
  • They also run regular Luxury Retreat weekends, with yoga, meditation, relaxation, restorative French beauty treatments and cooking experiences - enquire if this is of interest
  • Check out the local nightclub, Le Manoir, one of the most famous in France (they say!): it’s on Chemin Crépelière, a 7-minute drive. Or get snug in the stylish little sitting room with something delectable from the pantry, and a novel (or DVD) from the shelves

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


i-escape's Best for Kids Awards 2013
Winner: Best New Arrival (2013)

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:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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