|Le Chai||Self Catering||Flexible||1||2||1||1 (cot or single bed)|
Le Chai is a one-bedroom gîte with :
Upstairs : one double bedroom, with room for a cot or child's bed (provided by us). En suite shower room.
Downstairs : Open-plan kitchen/diner/living room.
As this is our dedicated couples' gite, Le Chai has its private outside area at the front of the house (rather than at the rear with the other units) which is screened & fenced and in the sunniest corner of our sheltered courtyard, with a stone barbeque, table and chairs, and your own sun loungers. This area looks out south with open views of the local countryside, where you can relax in the sun or cool a little under the canopy and watch the birds which flock over the local farmers' fields. It has a closable gate which separates it from the rest of the courtyard and keeps it private. It's the only one of our gîtes to have an seating area at the front which therefore makes it the most peaceful, and it's ideal for our glorious Charentais summer evenings.
At the rear of the house, you'll find our glorious 10mx5m heated pool, and just beyond this is the play area for children, then over an acre of open garden to enjoy. We provide a sports net and lots of racquets & balls for anyone who’s feeling energetic. Because we’re the last property on the lane, there are no passing cars (just the occasional tractor), and we’re surrounded by fields of sunflowers or maize and an oak wood.
Our location is peaceful and rural, with a pork butcher and cognac & pineau distillery within walking distance, a bakery, a general store and a seasonal al-fresco restaurant in a village 4 miles away, and a different restaurant in a village 3 miles away.
With over ten years’ experience of welcoming guests to our holiday rental properties here, we can offer lots of help & advice and to help you plan your days out, we have prepared a book of our own recommendations of where to go & what to see, and how best to enjoy this beautiful area, depending on what kind of day out takes your fancy. Because we live on site, we’re usually on hand if you need us for any kind of advice, and we have teenage daughters who are only too happy to offer their babysitting services for a small fee, should you fancy an adults-only evening (or daytime!!).
We're here on site to answer any questions you might have, and have lived here for many years as our girls have grown up, so we know the area well, both as a couple and as a family. We'll be here when you arrive, and on hand when you need us, but won't intrude on your holiday when you don't need any help from us!
The kitchen has an electric oven and hob, dishwasher, fridge with freezer shelf, washing machine, microwave, toaster and coffee-maker etc.
The living area has a comfy sofa, UK satellite freeview & French tv, books and tourist info.
There is unlimited free wi-fi (who can live without it these days?!).
One double bedroom, with room for a cot or child's bed (provided by us).
One shower room
Included in the rental price
It has UK Freesat tv (French tv on request) and a dvd player.
As this is our dedicated couples' gite, Le Chai has its private outside area at the front of the house rather than at the rear with the other units, and has a bbq and table and chairs, as well as its own sun loungers.
Unsuitable for disabled visitors
An important part of your gîte holiday is relaxation and fun, and our large pool area contains our heated octagonal 10 x 5 metre heated pool and plenty of sunloungers, tables, and chairs so that you can relax any way you like. The pool is in full sun for much of the day so you'll also find lots of pleasant shady areas to keep cool. The view from the pool area is across our garden to the surrounding farmland, and rolling hills, without another house in sight.
The area is surrounded by a 1.1 metre-high wall and self-closing gate, so younger children are unable to enter the pool area alone.
Our children's play area sits in the shade of a beautiful horse chestnut tree, with swings, slide, trampoline, and lots of toys and games to keep even the most energetic visitors happy. We have a convertible-height net, suitable for tennis, badminton and volleyball and of course all the racquets and balls to go with them.
We are Ian and Lisa Elsey and we live here at Chez Augros in Vibrac in Charente Maritime with our 2 daughters, Katrina and Rebecca who go to school locally. We moved here in 2005, when the farmhouse was in need of near-total renovation and we've done most of the work ourselves, so were able to make things as comfortable and efficient as possible.
|Year property purchased||2005|
|Why this location?||We love this unspoilt, rural area that we live in - the roads are quiet and even the towns are fairly relaxed most of the time. The coast can get fairly busy in the summer, but it's easy to visit for a day, then escape back to our rural paradise!|
|Unique benefits of property||All our guests rave about the pool - it has a large paved area around it, as well as flower beds and a shady seating area. The area beyond the wall of the pool area has countryside views into the distance which make you feel very secluded and sheltered. It doesn't hurt that we keep the pool water heated, either !!|
This is the area of France that is the most visited in the summer so there are so many things to see & do it's impossible to provide information here on them all, but I have a page on my own website of useful links that I keep updated, simply visit http://holidayletsinfrance.weebly.com/visitor-attractions.html.
If there's no information there on something that you're specifically interested in, please ask me & I'll provide you with more information & links to help you
Bordeaux is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the buildings here are beautiful, a stroll along the waterfront is recommended, taking in the beautiful buildings and bridges.
You could try the open-top bus tour, which is much recommended for taking in the sights of this beautiful city. It departs from the tourist office, every day from April to October.
Shopping : As well as the streets in the centre such as Rue St Catherine and the Cours de l’Intendance, you can try the Centre Commercial Mériadeck, at 56, rue du Château d'eau, 33000 Bordeaux, or the Quays de Bacalan at 22 to 26 Quai de Bacalan, 33000 Bordeaux.
Museum of Aquitaine is a museum of local history, archaeology and ethnography, split over 4 levels. Collections chart life in the region from prehistoric times to the modern day, taking a detour through the Gallo-Roman era and the Middle Ages. Acquisitions from overseas, including Africa and the South Sea Islands, make up a significant part of the objects on display
Musée des Beaux-Arts houses Bordeaux’s fine art exhibitions, and is at Jardin de la Mairie 20, Cours d’Albret, 33000 Bordeaux.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is an old harbour warehouse, built in 1824, that stored provisions from the colonies. The gallery presents works by internationally reputed contemporary artists.
Museum of Decorative Arts is located in a very fine Louis XVI town house, presents collections of furniture, ceramics, glassware, gold and silver work, and wrought iron, alongside a recreation of 18th century Bordeaux and, with the Raymond Jeanvrot collection, picturesque and moving royalist souvenirs of the 19th century.
Centre Jean Moulin is the museum of the Second World War, established in 1967.
Cap Sciences – Science Museum is the Centre for Scientific, Technical and Industrial Culture for the Aquitaine region, but at least some French is recommended for you to get the most out of a visit.
A beautiful small city, well worth a visit - here are a few suggestions of what to see :
The Basilica of St Eutropius Saintes' Romanesque church - an impressive building with massive pillars and vaulted ceilings.
Cathédrale Saint Pierre Saintes Cathedral is a former Roman Catholic cathedral, and a national monument. It was sacked by Protestants during the French Wars of Religion, but lack of resources meant that a complete rebuild has never been possible, hence the heavy appearance of the tower, missing a spire.
Gallo – Roman Amphitheatre Built around 40 AD in a small natural valley whose sides supported the stands, it could accommodate 15,000 people. Measuring 60 x 40 metres, it’s an impressive sight, even though now the built up sides have crumbled and grass has taken over.
Archaeological Museum The original fifth century walls of the town form part of the museum and its collection includes grand statues, sculpture and mosaics to more common objects. Its exhibits are all about daily during Roman times.
Parc Pierre Mendès-France is a 3 hectare public garden with beautiful flower beds, play areas for children, and a small animal park with birds and goats, etc to amuse youngsters.
Abbaye aux Dames This former Benedictine abbey dates back to the 11th century when it was consecrated as the first abbey for women in the Saintonge. It is famous now for its beautifully carved Romanesque doorway and unusual shaped bell tower.
Along from the Arc de Germanicus Arch by the river Charente, you can hire a small electric boat to potter along the river by yourself, or you can catch a tour boat – see the Tourist Information office for details.
There are a few chateaux around Saintes, many of which are well worth a visit; we can recommend Chateau de la Roche Courbon (11 miles north west) and Crazannes (9 miles north).
The old town at the top of the city is beautiful to stroll around, but there are also other things to do & see :
The Contemporary Art Museum is situated near the river Charente and presents exhibitions all year long.
Le Musée d’Angoulême was renovated in 2008, & is accessible through a garden near the Cathedral has three collections : archeology and the geology of the Charente region; arts of Africa and Oceania; and the Fine arts : selection of paintings, sculptures, ceramics and weapons from the 16th century to the early 20th century.
Le Musée de Papier is housed in the buildings of the old mills Joseph Bardou "Le Nil". The museum demonstrates the use of water in mechanical energy & upstairs has various exhibitions.
La Cité Internationale de la Bande Dessinée et de l'Image is housed in three buildings along the Charente river and includes a museum, a heritage library, a specialized public library, a documentation centre, an international artists' residence, a bookshop, an art house cinema, an internet consultation point and a panoramic restaurant.
Or try the stunning Chateau de La Rochefoucauld about 16 miles north east of Angoulême
This is such a beautiful village, it’s simply a matter of strolling around the steep, winding streets and enjoying the stunning views. Aubeterre is a lovely village to wander about in, and many of the streets are filled with artisans making and selling pottery and other crafts.
The underground church, église souterraine or église monolithe of Saint-Jean: the village’s most amazing site is this church which was carved out of cliff face by monks back in the 12th century. There are regular departs from the entrance, so if it’s ‘closed’ when you arrive, just wait a few minutes.
The church of Saint Jacques: for a touch of Moorish Spain, take a look at the 12th century façade of this church – make sure you see the signs of the zodiac.
Musée des Marionnettes: run by and Englishman, it has over 200 shadow, rod and glove puppets as well as marionettes. The shows are in French and English. Open June-September.
Musée du Papillon et de l’Art Africain: a mix of collections of more than 12,000 butterflies and insects that owner Albert Petit and his family have collected from Africa. There is also a smaller collection of African artefacts and jewellery. Open Easter to October.
Lake & Beach Fun : at a point where the river Dronne widens to resemble a lake is an artificial beach with real sand. It is a great place to spend a few hours splashing around.
Blaye was historically a strategically important site, as it protected Bordeaux at the mouth of the estuary that it sits on. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, it is made up of three fortresses: the citadel of Blade , Fort Paté and Fort Médoc, and the citadel is the site to visit.
There are year round guided tours (in French) to explore it but we would recommend simply strolling around (entry is free and it’s always open) to take in the views of the estuary and the sheer size of the site fortified walls, moats and ramparts.
Within the walls of the citadel, you’ll find the ruins of the castle of Rudel, which is triangular with a central courtyard of three main buildings, walls and six towers – fairly ruined, but interesting all the same.
Wine – Blaye is also a very famous wine area, and there are numerous wine-producing chateaux to discover – most offer free tastings, and will be happy to sell you bottles of their finest ! There is also a 2 hour wine tour in a horse-drawn carriage costing aroud 15€ per person, which leaves from the Place des Armes within the citadel which then takes you on a tour of the chateau including a wine-tasting.
Climbing in the Trees – for children and adventurous adults, there’s an activity park at Saint-Savin which is 12 miles east of Blaye. They offer all kinds of activities, including organised climbing paths through the trees, paintball, karting, cycling, pedal karting, orienteering, tethered trampolining, frisbee golf and mini golf.
Parts of Château de La Rochefoucauld are open to the public (there is no garden) and include the 16th century staircase, highly ornate Renaissance detailing in the ceiling and windows, and the courtyard with Italianate archways. These, plus the kitchen, dungeon and guard rooms can be seen without the need to take the guided tour but to see the salons, including a small room with painted wooden panelled walls and ceiling and the libraries with their antique maps and prints, you have to take the tour which is included in the ticket price. The tours occur at regular intervals and English is spoken.
Our personal favourite is Château de la Roche Courbon about 11 miles north west of Saintes. It's ideal if you’re visiting with children (although it’s equally stunning for adults only!). Currently inhabited, it boasts that it’s a living, breathing château, and there are lots of features to keep everyone entertained.
The Château de Crazannes is classified as a Historic Monument. Built in the 14th century & named after "Château du Chat Botté", a tribute to the Count of Caravaz, who owned the site in the 17th century, which inspired Charles Perrault to create the Marquis de Carabas Of Puss in Boots. Behind its flamboyant sculpted façade decorated with alchemical themes, the château houses kitchen, living room, banquet room, library, bedroom, guard room, walkway and attic that you can see as part of the guided tours.
There’s also a free visit of the garden with the chapel, the museum, the moat, the donjon (keep) and the dovecote.
Chateau de Matha now there only has a Renaissance pavilion on a mound accessible to the public. The three-storey square tower has a porch flanked by a second square tower of the same height, but of smaller dimensions. The two towers are crowned with battlements and machicolations and topped with high roofs of slates. The windows and a door are decorated with carved pediments. Pretty to see, but more limited than the other chateaux mentioned.
In the old town, there are narrow streets with a mix of narrow medieval timber framed houses and the grander mansions. Down by the river are the blackened chais (warehouses) that still store barrels of cognac, and the views along the river are lovely.
Cognac tours - No visit to Cognac is complete without a tour of one of the Cognac houses – the largest is Hennessy, which begins with a five-minute cruise along the Charente, to get you across the river to the warehouses, but the Otard tour includes a visit of the historic chateau, and the Rémy Martin tour is by train.
Cognathèque on Place Jean Monnet is a permanent exhibition devoted to cognac - see and buy 450 different cognacs as well as 50 types of pineau.
At Le Musée des arts du cognac learn more about the history and economic impact of the Cognac industry. Les Remparts - Place de la Salle Verte.
At Le Musée d'art et d'histoire on bd Denfert Rochereau, you can see work of local artists and collections of art nouveaux glass
Take a cruise on a gabarre: the traditional flat-bottomed oak boat that once used to transport cognac, salt and other produce, today transports visitors along the Charente, which is a good way to see the town from the river. Tickets are available at the tourist office.
Public Parks – there are 2 main parks – the first, Parc François Premier is close to the town centre, and has a children's play area, an outdoor pool (summer only), tennis, mini-golf, canoes, and cycling in the lanes of the park. The Base de Plein Aire André Mermet down by the river is a larger, less formal park, with lots of play equipment, extra activities in the summer (for a small fee) such as trampolines, swimming pool, bouncy castles etc ., and hiring of canoes.
Play Park on Avenue Gambetta in Jonzac is a simple children’s play area with swings, slides, a roundabout and zip-line, or try the play area at the base de loisirs, which has a swimming lake, and in summer they have a children’s adventure course, where they can select from different activities, bouncy castles, trampolines, wall climbing, etc.
Chateau des Enigmes or the mystery castle at Pons, about 15 minutes from Jonzac, is a Renaissance château where adults and children solve the final mystery of the château through a series of 21 games. A good half-day of entertainment, with a snack bar, and lots of picnic tables and a children’s play area around the grounds.
Royan Zoo is renowned as the best in France – follow signs for La Palmyre.
The Jardins du Monde also in Royan are a series of different gardens, including tropical, scented, rose, and a large indoor orchid house.
Futuroscope, near Poitiers, is a theme park with a science twist, easily accessible from the N10 or A10, it’s a very full day out.
La Vallée des Singes is a 15 hectare park housing over 30 species of monkeys, roaming free. Although it’s about an hour and a half north or us, it’s a unique experience.
Prehistoric Interactive Museum & Archeological Site (Paléosite) on a 10 hectare site about 8 miles from Saintes, with an interesting indoor museum (everything also in English) and outside displays and activities.
Climbing in the Trees – for children and adventurous adults, there’s an activity park at Saint-Savin which is about 20 miles south west of here. They offer all kinds of activities, including organised climbing paths through the trees, paintball, karting, cycling, pedal karting, orienteering, tethered trampolining, frisbee golf and mini golf. For younger children…La Cocinelle & KidParc in Gujan Muestras south west of Bordeaux, an animal park and an amusement park, both suitable for children up to age 10 or so.
This is one of France’s loveliest coastal towns. Its historic port is beautifully preserved with a bustling quayside and the seafront is packed full of lively cafes, bars and restaurants where you can watch the world go by.
Tourist attractions are everywhere. Walk through the striking Gothic gateway, Porte de la Grosse Horloge and you enter a maze of pedestrianised streets, flanked by seventeenth and eighteenth century buildings that are now home to boutique shops.
La Rochelle's main feature is the "Vieux Port" ("Old Harbour"), which is at the heart of the city, picturesque and lined with seafood restaurants. The city walls are open to an evening promenade. The old town has been well preserved.
See the Defensive Towers on the harbour – these are the three 14th and 15th century towers that dominate the port area of La Rochelle in the Charente-Maritime. There are superb views from the top and across the harbour it's also possible to climb the 36m-high, pentagonal Tour St-Nicolas
Try Charruyer Park in the old town area which has 100 acres of landscaped gardens, streams and even a small zoo and game area for the kids, and follows the edge of the old town walls on one side, close to the sea.
La Rochelle Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Louis de la Rochelle) is a few hundred metres from the park
Bike hire - See La Rochelle from another perspective by taking advantage of the free bike hire offered by the city
Aquarium – take 2 to 3 hours to see the aquarium properly – it’s rated as the best in France.
Museums - Try the Musée des Automates and the Musée des Modèles Réduits next door, with miniature cars, computer-automated naval battles and a model railway. The Natural History Museum has an eclectic collection of more than 10,000 objects from Africa, America and Oceania, the Maritime Museum is made up of the meteorological research ship France 1, a fishing boat and a tug, and there's even mini golf near the Plage de la Concurrence!
This is a small thermal spa town and old naval port, on the Charente estuary. It’s generally quiet & peaceful & the pretty buildings around Place Colbert (near the town hall) make for a pleasant stroll.
Centre International de la Mer at the Corderie Royale (the Royal ropeworks) houses both permanent and temporary exhibitions on the sea and seafaring. The Naval gardens surrounding the ropeworks are also worth seeing.
Pont Transbordeur is the suspended car or ferry bridge that’s the last of its kind in France.
Maison Pierre Loti is the flamboyant home of romance writer Pierre Loti .
Maritime Museum : see model boats as well as other naval memorabilia.
Musée des Commerces d’autrefois – see 20 superb replicas of shops from the turn of the last century.
St Emilion is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rightly so - the buildings here are beautiful, and the setting is beautiful countryside. You can simply stroll around town, but we would recommend the guided tour organised by the Tourist Office in town to get the most out of your visit. You'll enjoy the pleasant but sometimes steep cobbled streets.
St Emilion Underground The guided tour is the only way to see the underground monuments and covers several centuries of history and legend from the time of the monk Emilion to the carving out of the monolithic church. You will be able to see paintings in the Chapelle de la Trinité and learn the secrets of the catacombs. This visit to 4 major monuments gives a condensed history of the town, & takes approx. 45 mins.
Remnant Wall of the Gothic Church The ruins of a Dominican convent and church greet you at the entrance to St. Emilion if you are coming from Libourne. This huge wall with the remains of three vaults was abandoned after the 100 Years War around 1,200. Now the vineyards come right up to the wall.
Pottery Museum The Musée de Potterie located in the caves under St. Emilion is an interesting exhibition of the history of pottery in the region. There are many historical exhibits, including rectangular "plates" featuring scenes from medieval life through contemporary art pieces. The entrance is deceiving; as you enter the "building" you are quickly in a cave, which is quite cool.
Train of the Great Vineyards This tourist road train goes through the vineyards, with commentary in French and English,
Wine Tasting A visit to St Emilion offers so much choice in the sampling of the local wines – all the local wine sellers will provide a taste of almost any wine you’d like (usually a 1 to 2 Euro charge per taste). A self-guided tour of the shop’s cellars is also a must-see.
Talmont is really a place to wander abound and take in the atmosphere – it’s famous for its Romanesque church which overlooks the Gironde, and is a very charming village with less than a hundred inhabitants. The sight of the sun setting on the Church of Sainte-Radegonde and the surrounding small maritime cemetery is worth waiting to see.
The fortified town The church of Sainte-Radegonde overlooking the Gironde, is a very famous image of the Saintonge area and for good reason – it’s a beautiful old building. The fortified town was built in 1284, on the orders of Edward 1st of England - the English reigned from 1154 over Aquitaine and the banks of the Gironde, and there are several ‘English’ references to be found in the village.
Talmont's museum which is in the old school building near the town hall takes you on a journey through the past history of the town.
The Church of Sainte-Radegonde was built at the end of the 11th and the beginning of the 12th Century, in the local Romanesque style. It’s a very solid-looking building, with its square tower at the top. The arches over the north door are quite impressive, and have been restored in recent years.
Mortagne-sur-Gironde is a charming fishing port about 9 miles south of Talmont, perfect for a gentle stroll around the marina
Meschers-sur-Gironde is only 4 miles north along the coast, and is well worth a visit mostly to see the caves dug into the limestone cliff above the Gironde, which are fully accessible for a visit. It’s also ideal for a walk from the beach of Nonnes to the harbour, following the small road along the top of the cliffs which takes you past the caves.
No trip to this area could be complete for anyone who loves wine without a wine tasting - the best place locally is La Maison des Vignes in Archiac, which is about 20 minutes from here. They bring together the products of lots of local producers, so giving you a much larger choice of wines, and their exhibitions are quite interesting (even for children) - they have at least one member of staff who speaks English & can give you the full "how wine's made" tour (for free). Most kids particularly love the bit where you have to identify the smells of various fruits, spices, etc, and you can move as quickly or as slowly through it as you like, so the kids don't get bored.
For a local wine producer, you can stroll to the other side of the village, however like all the producers around here, they concentrate on Cognac and Pineau, rather than specialising in wine.
For wine specialists, I'd recommend a trip to Blaye, which as well as making rather nice wine, has a fortified citadel in the Gironde estuary which is well worth a visit. The Château Marquis de Vauban does 30 minutes tours by horse-drawn carriage, with a tour of the cellars and wine tasting
And no wine tasting would really be complete without a taste of Bordeaux - there are so many places you could end up it, it's difficult to recommend one, Bordeaux's official website will give you more info, http://www.bordeaux-tourism.co.uk/What-to-see-do/Wine-and-gastronomy.