La Rochelle Airport is the closest (just a 30-minute drive); Nantes is a 90-minute drive. There are direct flights to both from major cities throughout Europe, and international flights from Africa and Canada fly into Nantes. Visitors from the US must stopover in mainland Europe.
If you’re arriving via Eurostar, you can connect to Surgères (the closest station to the Manoir, just a 10-minute drive away), Niort or La Rochelle from Gare de l’Est, a 10-minute walk from du Nord. However, each is a journey of around three hours, with multiple changes, so acquire some wheels for a faff-free journey.
The hotel’s tucked-away country locale makes hiring a car essential. You can pick up some wheels in La Rochelle, a 40-minute drive away; follow the N11 and you’ll come upon pretty village Benon, a route that takes you through the lush Marais-Poitevin nature park. There’s free parking on site.
Brittany Ferries runs a regular route from Portsmouth to St Malo; from there, the hotel is a four-hour drive.
Worth getting out of bed for
Well-earned R ‘n’ R is this sedate stay’s raison d'être, so there’s little need to leap from your bed; after all, it’s so soft and snuggly… When you do leave your cocoon of Egyptian cotton, you can play board games, read, or wander the grounds, perhaps fish in the stream, swim or play tennis if you’re really amped up. Michael and Ben are always happy to stop for a chat, too.
Spreading out from the hotel’s own impressive grounds, Marais Poitevin Regional Nature Park is a beautiful expanse of marshes and wetland, home to a coterie of birds and animals. You can bike or explore on foot, but its best seen by boat along the canals that give it the nickname Green Venice. Wander the mediaeval streets of coastal city La Rochelle (a 30-minute drive away) where there are towers to scale, a painter-inspiring view from the harbour and markets to trawl – plus, the Plage des Minimes to sunbathe on. From there, cross the bridge to Îlé de Ré to find more sandy stretches. Niort (also a 30-minute drive away) is known for its Donjon (not Miami Vice’s finest, but the remnants of a 12th-century castle) and 16th-century town hall – now a visual arts space. For more eye-catching antiquity and local delicacies, the commune of Surgères is just a 10-minute drive.
We strongly advise you to try Ben’s home-cooked meals; however, as they’re only available four evenings a week, you’ll occasionally have to seek sustenance elsewhere. Luckily, the region’s fruitful land and sea means fresh, flavourful ingredients are a source of pride in local eateries. Just a 10-minute drive away is Le Relais de la Forêt for elegantly plated sea fare and sinful desserts. On the Îlé de Ré, Bistrot du Marin promises cuisine like your grandmother made – especially if grand-mère captained a trawler. Le Panier de Crabes in La Rochelle looks unassuming but is a must-try for its seafood cornucopia. Christopher Coutanceau, the self-named eatery of a ruggedly dashing fisherman and chef has stylish sea-inspired decor and a lure-lined menu – but you’ll set course for the chef’s table for fishy dishes of all ilk…