POITIERS IS known as the ‘Town of a Hundred Bells’, due to the 24 parishes and 30 monasteries within its boundaries – a supreme example of Romanesque art in France.
The town’s present-day structure was given shape in the 18th and 19th centuries, with the addition of the Grands Boulevards, Blossac Park and the Haussmann-style roads, particularly between the Town Hall and the Police HQ.
Poitou-Charentes is one of the top regions in France in terms of EU eco-labelled accommodation. Members must adhere to certain practices, including reduced water and energy consumption, diminished quantity of non-recyclable trash, use of reusable energy, use of eco-friendly products and materials, breakfast featuring organic and local products, and the establishment of good environmental practices.
My evening is spent in a most attractive guesthouse across the river and outside the town ramparts. Owned by Philippe Mangin and Patrick Gérard, La Chambre des Moulins is situated at 177 Rue des 4 Roues, an attractive long, narrow street where cars almost kiss each other as they pass.
The property was built in the mid 19th century, and after much hard work and dedication, Philippe and Patrick were the first guesthouse owners in the region to receive the Certificate for Responsible Tourism, and proudly display their Ecolabel signage by the large front door.
Behind the door lies an airy stone-flagged hallway, leading to an open courtyard and, beyond, a pretty, enclosed garden, complete with a chicken coup, aromatic plants, flowers and terraces. The far end of the garden is bordered by a cliff face, which runs the length of the street.
Built within this face in the garden is an old cave dwelling, where a couple once lived in the late 18th century. Today it is used for the storage of plants and wine.
Immaculately clean and well presented, this charming guesthouse has only one room available to guests at present, which is on the first floor, overlooking the street. The elegant, spacious room offers a queen-size bed with cosy duvet, a desk and sitting area.
The bathroom is equipped with large shower and toilet, complimentary soap and shampoo, hair drier, and linen.
Host Philippe normally joins guests over breakfast, which is served either in the dining room or on the outside terrace.
This morning, candles flicker around the pleasant dining room, where we sit at the table, beautifully laid out with fresh bread, homemade yoghurt, fresh fruit salad, tea, and a selection of jams made with fruit and vegetables from the cottage garden.
All products offered at the guesthouse are organic and local. Adjacent to the dining room is a library area with easy chairs, a selection of books and a television.
Time to feed the chickens
Services offered include private parking, free WiFi access, bike storage and hire with helmets and maps of the area, and tickets for the Saint Croix Museum of Poitiers. Built in 1974, a collection of art and archaeology can be viewed. From the guesthouse, visitors can also enjoy a picturesque walk to the historic centre of Poitiers, savouring the gastronomic and cultural highlights of the city.
EXPECT TO PAY
Rates are very reasonable, at 77,00 euros for one person per night, or 67 euros per night for two nights or more. Two people pay 87 euros per night, or 77,00 euros for two nights or more. Prices include breakfast, tourist taxes and services.
CHAMBRE DES MOULINS
177e des Quatres Roués – F 86000 Poitiers
Tel: +33(0)951 0872 12
- All images © Essential Journeys/Michael Cowton