Things to Do
The climate of the Poitou-Charentes is one of the mildest in France, and we're second only to the Mediterranean coast in hours of sunshine. So, we're famous for our climate, but also lucky to be known for our oysters - a big local speciality from Ile d'Oléron, the Pineau des Charentes - an aperitif made from brandy and sweet unfermented grape juice, (yummy!), Cognac brandy, Charentais melon, Chabichou goats' cheese, Moules au Pineau - mussels cooked with tomatoes, pineau, garlic and parsley. Desserts flavoured with angelica. Tourteau fromagé, a delicious cheesecake. ....sunflowers, lavender and vineyards stretching into forever.... The scent and sight of this region is intoxicating!
Our two gîtes are situated between the market towns of Sauzé-Vaussais and Chef-Boutonne in the department of the Deux-Sèvres. The area surrounding Sauzé-Vaussais was the backdrop of many wars and fights in ancient times, so it's very rich historically. Today, the town has a Romanesque church, a small hotel, bars, supermarkets, boulangeries and an English tea shop - the wonderful Lemon Tree.
Chef-Boutonne also has several bars and restaurants surrounding a delightful square, and both towns host weekly markets. Sauzé-Vaussais has a lovely, large lake - a 'Plan 'd'eau' - with play area, picnic spots and bistro café, and the delightful Château Javarzay with it's pretty lake at Chef-Boutonne is well worth a visit.
Here are a few more ideas just outside the immediate vicinity..... but I have very comprehensive folders in both Tobacco Barn & Stonemasons Barn with far more detailed options to fill your days with adventure and to expose your senses to the gorgeous food, drink and hospitality in the area !
We are ideally placed for exploring the glorious Charentise countryside which is bursting with sunflowers during the summer months. The area surrounding our gites is perfect for walking and cycling . A little further out there are some wonderful beaches on the spectacular Côte Sauvage, or closer still is the cosmopolitan seaside town of La Rochelle and the holiday resort of Châtellion Plage. The fine sandy beaches are simply beautiful..
Hire a boat and guide at Coulon at Marais Poitevin (Venice Vert or Green Venice) and spend the day meandering through the collection of sleepy water ways. If this is just too laid-back, then kayaking and or paddle boarding trips down the Charente river is a fantastic way to spend a day, fun for all the family! Only 25 minutes away.
Why not visit La Vallée de Singes (Valley of the Monkeys) at Romagné which is a wildlife park with no fences or cages!. You are up close and personal with a huge variety of apes and monkeys - with goats and peacocks wandering around you for free. For entire days out, we would recommend La Palmyre Zoo at Royan (one of the best in France), the Puy du Fou theme park, an amazing, exciting and historical theme park in the Vendee or Futurescope at Poitiers.
There are numerous historical towns within an easy drive such as Poitiers, Angoulême, St-Jean-d'Angély, Chauvigny and Parthenay. Just down the road, the ancient town of Melle has old silver mines, three Romanesque churches to visit and little bars and restaurants. Not forgetting 'market days', a wonderful bustle of tastes and smells, in the small towns all around us - pick up some delicious local produce for supper! I have details of the markets by day and by town for all four departments within the Poitou Charente region - and I can let you know my favourites!!
If you like a bargain, why not wander around some of the local brocantes (Flea Markets with French style) which are held throughout the year in the various towns and villages.
There are simply dozens of bars and restaurants close by, and I'm happy to show you where, and book for you if you wish....special occasion, 'sans' menu, buffet and even take- out (really wonderful) homemade pizza and on-the-spot fish & chips is available just down the road in Chef Boutonne.
You can visit local distilleries for a fascinating look at how that Cognac or Pineau ends up in your glass, these wonderful winemakers are happy to showcase their family business and show you around - there's usually a little shop at the end of the tour! These fabled nectars have been produced here since the 17th Century.
This is a great area where you can have the best of all worlds - peaceful countryside, seaside resorts, ancient towns and cities and numerous family attractions. Even without the glorious sunshine, and you know we have plenty of that, we think there is something here for everyone!
Wish You Were Here!