Published by Andrew on 6 July 2017
Richard Peace reviews La Maison 19, a cycling B&B with self-catering accommodation within reach of the port of Calais.
La Maison 19 is a great first port of call if you've hopped off the Dover-Calais ferry with your bike – my slightly circuitous route using a greenway to Guines and some glorious minor roads was around 40 miles from Calais.
5 things we liked
1. The building itself is quite striking.
Built just after World War II, according to my very friendly host Janet, it’s what is known as a fermette – a small working farm and offers the option of B&B or self-catering for up to 12 people at a time. For the latter the group rents the whole property, which includes a stable block full of nicely decorated en-suite bedrooms, a huge slightly medieval style living room and a smaller kitchen plus utility room.
B&B guests stay in the same rooms as long they are not given over to self-caterers and single night accommodation or longer stays are available however you choose to stay.
There’s also plenty of storage space for plenty of bikes; my single bike lived in the utility room whilst Janet showed me a couple of cavernous barns that can be used for overspill. La Maison 19 also has great plans for expansion of accommodation by modernising several of the attached buildings.
2. Relaxation space.
Outside there is plenty of space for lounging about on days out of the saddle, with the bedrooms looking out onto a lovely grassed area and backed by open farmland (including the local mayor’s cows in the field next door whilst I was there). There’s also ample parking space if you are bringing your bike on a motor vehicle/s.
3. Meals available on request.
Janet can provide evening meals with a bit of advanced notice and for a surcharge. My evening meal was absolutely superb and most welcome after a long day’s cycle (Janet says the nearest decent restaurant is not within cycling distance if you have been in the saddle all day….). Home-prepared walnut and mushroom soup was followed by chicken in cream of tarragon sauce and topped off with cheesechake and coffee.
Next morning’s breakfast was equally copious, and furnished with a huge coffee pot and boulangerie products fresh from the local bakery.
4. The friendly welcome.
Janet was a great host – and something of a local tourism expert. She convinced me that there was enough in the area to merit a return cycling visit. I was passing through on my way south, but saw enough of the local area known as the Seven Valleys to want to come back. Also within a day’s return cycle trip is the lovely sounding town of Saint-Omer. The coast is also within cycling distance and holds nice resorts and beaches.
5. Local history.
Anyone with even a passing interest in WWII will want to visit La Coupole just south of Saint-Omer, built in 1944 by the Nazis and designed to conceal the preparatory work for Hitler’s secret weapon, the V2 rocket. It’s now an amazing museum. If you don’t want to take your own bikes, Saint-Omer tourist office hires electric bikes.
La Maison 19 could be used as a stop off if you want to cycle from Calais to Paris. Whatever your reason for a cycling visit to La Maison 19, I think it’s a lovely spot and very much on England’s doorstop and so easily accessible via one of the many daily Dover-Calais ferries.
Richard Peace is founder of Excellent Books, specialists in cycle publishing. He has made several tours of France (including on electric bikes and folders). He is the author of Cycling Southern France, Cycling Northern France, and Electric Bicycles: The Complete Guide.