Stylish family friendly holiday accommodation in South West France
The Charente-Maritime and why we chose it!
With it’s miles of sandy beaches, sunny yet gentle climate, the Charente - Maritime is the perfect holiday destination (and place to live), but that’s not all it has to offer. The relaxed way of life brings an immediate sense of calm with fields of golden sunflowers to lift your spirits. Outside the rural countryside you will find bustling, lively towns rich in historic Roman architecture. Agriculture is the main industry and the area is fairly flat making it ideal for the running or biking enthusiast. Bike Hire Direct will deliver and collect bikes for all ages direct to your gite. Excellent roads with little traffic allow you to rediscover the joy of driving too! If gastronomy is high on your wish list then you will be spoilt with the seafood, cheeses and wine which are all part and parcel of daily life here; not forgetting the finest Cognac of course.
The Local Area - up to 30 minutes drive
Le Relais de Tout Y Faut is our local bar/restaurant and pizzeria, eat in or take away. Just a 5 minute walk away.
In Loulay you will find all your daily needs - boulangerie, grocer, bank, post, pharmacy and restaurant/bar. A 2 minute drive away.
The medieval market town of St. Jean d’Angély is brimming with character with its leafy squares, timber houses and cobbled streets. The 15th Century clock tower and abbey towers impose on the skyline and the colourful twice-weekly market selling superb regional produce is an assault on your senses. Enjoy a fresh coffee at one of the pavement cafés and soak up the atmosphere.
Restaurants and bars cater for all tastes. Swim indoors at the Atlanty’s aqua centre with 50m waterslide. Canoes or kayaks can be hired at the nearby lake. For the less energetic, a round of crazy golf might prove a better alternative. For older children with a need for speed, Go Karting offers fast track fun. www.angely.net/
Dampierre-sur-Boutonne is home to our local château! A 16th century Renaissance treasure surrounded by running water in a wooded setting. Wander through the tranquil gardens or lose yourself in the small maze.
The Chizé forest is the first French certified animal reserve where you can safely see roe deer, wild boar, wolves and many other European animals in their natural habitat in the cool forest. Children will love the mini farm, and play area and their is a small café to have an ice cream or coffee. www.zoodyssee.org
Surgères is an unassuming market town with a beautiful Château nestled in green parkland. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays stall holders set up their wares at the crack of dawn, and Surgères comes to vibrant and very French life. Try the superb locally produced butter on your crusty baguette washed down with some good inexpensive vin! www.tourisme-surgeres.com
Antezant is a little known spot on the river Boutonne, shaded by tall trees and perfect for children. Ideal setting for family picnics. The snack bar provides light lunches and ices. There is also a boules pitch and children’s play area.
Beautiful yet unpretentious. Brimming with charm, Ile de Ré www.iledere.com is picture postcard where the beaches are sandy soft and the island’s salt marshes deliver the ‘Fleur de Sel’ or ‘white gold‘ as it is known locally. A culinary find for any discerning cook. St. Martin, the largest town is a lively hub for food, nightlife and shopping. Artisan ice creams are hard to resist.
Ile d’Oleron also offers exceptional beaches on the ‘Côte Sauvage’ where you can picnic amongst the pine forests and sand dunes or just browse the shops in the narrow lanes. Both islands are accessible by car or boat but we never tire of the journey across the 3km bridge. Cycling is also an excellent way to explore these self-contained islands.
La Rochelle is not to be missed! Head here for serious retail therapy, credit cards at the ready (husbands optional!) Discover chic boutiques amongst arcaded streets in this cosmopolitan, bustling city. Enjoy the finest fresh seafood overlooking the historic old port or take a boat trip to one of the islands. When the heat is on head to the Aquarium www.aquarium-larochelle.com to cool off. This water wonderland is a deservedly very popular attraction. Magical, mystical and ultra modern, but go early! When you’ve exhausted the shops have a coffee or chilled beer at ‘ La Brasserie de la Plage’ whilst overlooking the sea. www.larochelle-tourisme.com
Beaches here are spotless, sandy and safe so very family friendly. If the beach is your thing then the Atlantic coast is well equipped to satisfy with shallow gentle shores. There is a wealth of golden beaches many uncrowded even in high season. Our favourites include Châtelaillon-Plage and Fouras www.fouras.net famous for its oyster beds. Both have restaurants along the front ( and on the beach) offering fresh seafood. Royan has a spectacular beach stretching 2 km where you can sail and windsurf. At Saint Palais the beaches are more secluded.
Cognac is steeped in history and is located on the banks of the Charente, Cognac revolves around cognac, the double-distilled spirit that is the driving force of this prosperous town's economy. Discover the celebrated ‘eau de vie’ by taking a guided tour of one of the famous Cognac houses where you can sample the finest oak aged blends. Included in the Hennessey tour is a boat trip across the river and Remy Martin includes a train ride for children. Allow 2 hours for tours. www.ville-cognac.fr
St Savinien where children (and adults!) adore taking the helm of one of the miniature electric boats. Afternoons only April—Sept. www.saint-savinien.com
Marais Poitevin is crisscrossed by an elaborate system of canals, the ‘Venise Verte’ or ‘Green Venice’ is a National Park and a haven for wildlife and marsh birds. Take a boat trip (guided or not) from Coulon and experience the tranquility of this natural maze. www.marais-poitevin.com
Saintes will provide plenty of culture for the beach weary. Built on the banks of the Charente and rich in architecture this Gallo- Roman town is home to numerous museums and the impressive amphitheatre dating from 40 A.D. The Arch of Germanicus dominates the riverside views. Shop, lunch or take a calming boat trip along the river. www.ot-saintes.fr
La Palmyre Zoo is no ordinary zoo and will not disappoint families with children of all ages. An award winning breeding zoo with 1600 animals, set in 14 hectares. Polar bears, elephants - all the usuals plus a reptile house, tropical greenhouse and seal show. Stunning beaches on the door step make this a full day out. www.zoo-palmyre.fr
Bordeaux is now officially a World Heritage site, Bordeaux is rich in architecture and a cultural and historic centre with shops to rival any major city. An internationally renowned wine capital, the wine growing regions of Margaux, Pommerol, St. Emilion and Pauillac in the surrounding area produce some of the finest red wines in the world. www.bordeaux-tourisme.com
Futuroscope is an extraordinary theme park based upon multimedia, cinematographic and audio-visual techniques of the future. It has several 3D cinemas along with other attractions and shows, some of which are the only examples in the world. Packed with thrills, images in giant-screen format and mind-blowing shows that will amaze you, play on your senses and involve you in the action, as you escape into new worlds of fun. A great family day out. www.futuroscope.com