Bienvenue à La Belle Vilaine
Self-catering, holiday cottages on the South Brittany/Loire Atlantique border in France.
Pet friendly, family-run gite accommodation - dogs welcome.
Residential Dog-training Courses with Elaine Clark IMDT - optional extra, fees apply.
|We offer several on- and off-site activities and advice. Activities are based upon our own hobbies and areas of knowledge and are subject to our availability and the weather. Many previous guests have very much appreciated this facet to our service:-
- Detailed information about the best local wildlife sites, with the option of a guided-tour where Elaine will introduce you to the local wildlife during walkies from the door and a guided tour of the Grande Brière Nature Reserve (dogs can come along and we usually pic-nic in a panoramic indoor pic-nic area overlooking the marshes).
- On-site moth-trapping (don't dismiss moths as small brown things - you'll be amazed!
- We will make a charge for the guided tour of the Brière and moth trapping sessions (Elaine gets up at dawn and presents the moths to guests after breakfast). Ask us for details.
|Dogs - all dogs on-site must be kept under strict supervision and on a lead when in the parking area and supervised (off-lead) when in the large, fenced garden at the front of the gites. We also apply this rule to our own, highly-trained dogs when we have guests. Guests with and without dogs have always got-along very well in the 8 years since we opened - for this very reason. Each gite has its own private garden (fenced and screened between the gites) where the dogs can be free and there are endless opportunities for walks just outside the gate. Regular doggie guests often join in playing with our dogs in our garden and joining us for walkies.
- Advice on beaches where dogs are permitted;
- Detailed local walks (many from the door-step of the gite - our dogs often take a swim in the river en-route);
- Agility and doggy dancing displays - on-site (featuring Gracie, Haïyla and Cass and our daughter's dogs Daisy and Fran not forgetting sometimes Harry the cat!);
- Fun Flyball run available FOC on-site.
- Elaine is a Full Member of the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers and the Pet Professional Guild. Professionally-registered in France, insured and a qualified force-free dog trainer, she offers basic life-skills classes, behaviour adjustment, clicker training, agility training and dance training. Elaine has competed in agility at national level and now competes from home via the Valor Virtual Agility League, as she finds the extremely long days competing in France too stressful for her and her dogs. We offer residential dog training holidays. Full agility course on-site.
With over 20 years of experience training our own dogs and a Full Member of the Instsitute of Modern Dog Trainers and Pet Professional Guild, Elaine holds her Certificat de Capacité as a Professional Dog Trainer in France (a legal requirement to work in the profession over here). Elaine has also done several displays with our dogs (including the youngest - from when she was just 5 months!) - these displays include events for local dignatories, dog clubs and local primary schools. She also gives presentations to local schools to teach the children how to interact safely with dogs. She now works as a professional dog trainer as well as continuing to teach both English and French. So now she teaches 3 languages! We have a full agility course on-site, securely fenced and gated, where Elaine trains our own dogs and others. We also make available a Flyball fun-run and a doggy paddling pool FOC to our guests . It is the owner's responsibility to ensure that their dog is fit to take part and has no underlying health problems which would be aggravated by such exercise.
PETS PASSPORT SCHEME - PLEASE NOTE the blood test is no longer required and the waiting period is reduced to 21 days (to re-enter the UK - dogs can come to France as soon as the passport is issued with no waiting period). There is no longer a requirement for flea/tick and the requirement for worming has been relaxed to 1 - 5 days before departure.
This information is intended as general advice only - please see your vet for professional and up-to-date advice regarding the scheme.
Activities in the Area
|Golf - 20 minutes by car
An 18-hole golf course set in the grounds of a beautiful,
lakeside château. There is also a restaurant, shop and equipment hire.
La Vilaine River - easy walking distance ( fishing permits sold locally)
Kernevy lake, St. Dolay - 10 min drive ( fishing permits sold locally)
Sea-fishing - Several companies offer sea-fishing trips in the area.
Whilst La Belle Vilaine gites are situated in a quiet hamlet in the countryside, all necessary amenities are easily accessible by car -
5 minutes to Nivillac, for boulangerie (bread and groceries), post office, bars, brasserie, tabac (newsagent - postcards etc)
5 minutes to St. Dolay, for all the above, plus a chemists, and a butchers.
10 minutes to La Roche Bernard - see Local Area
The St. Dolay and Nivillac boulangeries both provide a mobile service, stopping at the gites every day (except Sunday, when they trade from the square at St. Cry at 10.15 am).
Local Bar (no food) - Le Cycriens, St. Cry
Around a 15 minute (1 mile) walk along country lanes and you come to the village square in St. Cry. The bar is a child- and dog-friendly establishment, run by a friendly, French couple. Close at 8 pm weekdays and Monday closed all day.
Click here for details and photographs of local traditional fêtes.
Tree-top adventure course - Guérande. We have not braved this ourselves, but have it on good authority from previous guests that it is great fun! (Open April - Sept).
Zap Paintball adventure park- apprx 25 mins drive
Set in woodland just north of Guérande. Also has an equestrian centre.
Adventure Quad - Auray (45 mins - 1 hour drive)
Courses set out for children from 6 years to adults. (Open Feb - Nov)
Butterfly house and Aquarium - Vannes
Parc de Préhistoire de Bretagne - apprx. 45 mins
Set in 20 hectares, with 5 lakes. Life-size models help to tell the story of the region's pre-history through to the building of the menhir sites around 2000 BC- English translations.
Ecole de Voile - La Roche-Bernard - apprx 10 mins drive.
Sailing lessons for children (sailing craft and kayaks) and boat hire on the banks of the River Vilaine. English-speaking instructors. There is also a circus school!
Vedettes Jaunes - La Roche-Bernard and Arzal
Take a cruise up the river - with or without meal.
There are several centres which offer horse riding / pony trekking in the area, some of which take you through the Grande Brière nature reserve.
La Belle Vilaine garden - on-site!
See Nature Notes and Wildlife pages.
La Grande Brière nature reserve - apprx. 20 min drive.
A miniature version of the Norfolk Broads. Several way-marked walks take you through the marshes. You can also explore the area by horse-drawn cart, by punt with a guided tour or by hiring a rowing boat and following the way-marked routes through the peat-rich canals. Bird highlights include Golden Oriole, Black Kites, Purple Heron, Night Heron, Marsh Harrier, Sacred Ibis (resident escapee), Cattle Egret, Whiskered Terns, Black-winged Stilts, White Storks and Bluethroat for the birds and Swallowtail and Camberwell Beauty for the butterflies (Apr. - Sept.),
Sept Iles Nature Reserve - Golfe du Morbihan - apprx. 30 - 40 mins drive
Several companies offer boat trips in the Golfe, some of which include sorties onto the islands. Prices in 2005 started from 14 euros for an adult.
Vilaine Estuary - apprx. 20 mins drive (whilst the river itself is just a walk away from the gites).
A mixture of rocky coastlines, sandy coves, lagoon marshes and mudflats. The way-marked cliff-top walk is worth following if only for the spectacular views - perhaps topped-off by a meal in the sea-front restaurant at the Pointe de Bille.
Château de Ranrouët is situated in Herbignac, just into the Loire Atlantique region and is approximately 20 minutes drive away. During July & August they stage enjoyable re-enactments here.
Le Château de Léhélec this Louis XIII castle is set on the other side of the river at Béganne. Guided tours available July & August. This is approx 20 minute drive away.
Château de Careil between La Baule & Guérande offers guided tours (English spoken) & animated candle-lit soirées during July & August and again only about 25 minutes away.
There are a number of other Châteaux in the region all within easy reach by car.
The city of St Nazaire is home to a museum of maritime - including an old cruise liner, a submarine and a Naval boatyard. You can also explore the production line of the A380 Airbus aeroplane here. A further 30 minutes drive will bring you to the city of Nantes where you can go on board the Naval destroyer Maillé - Brézé which is now a floating museum.
La Maison du Cidre - situated on the Presqu'île de Rhuys, approx. 30 minutes drive - offers guided tours and cider tasting.
La Maison de la Mytiliculture - at Penestin approx. 30 minutes' drive - one of many oyster farms in the region offering guided tours and sales.
Menhirs - the region is littered with ancient standing stones. The largest site being at Carnac. west of Vannes.
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Self-catering, holiday cottages on the South Brittany/Loire Atlantique border in France.
Friendly family run gite accommodation where dogs are welcome.