For an authentic slice of French country life, La Fermette is a traditional Charantais farmhouse that has been lovingly renovated into a spacious family gite, in the Cognac countryside of South West France, just 30 minutes from the coast. Whilst putting the finishing touches to La Fermette, the owners also converted a stable and a stone barn into two smaller gites, L’Etable and L’Ecurie, and added a games barn to make this farmhouse cluster a relaxing retreat for extended families and friends.
Children have plenty of space to play outdoors in the orchard field, with boules, bats and balls, hula hoops and a paddling pool to pull out from the games barn, along with table tennis, table football, a pool table and various sizes of bikes. What could be better for a picnic than peaches, cherries, figs and walnuts plucked straight from the trees in season and parents can chill out on sun loungers and gaze on the sunsets while sampling the local ‘Pineau’, wines and Cognac. Besides the orchard, each of the gites has its own garden area with an outdoor dining table and barbecue for sizzling up suppers.
The owners have renovated the gites in keeping with their traditional, rustic charm and making a feature of the pale stone walls, oak beams, wood floors, Charentais stone fireplaces and shuttered windows. There’ve also made sure the gites are comfy, cosy and well equipped for families, from children’s games and DVD’s, English TV channels and Wi Fi to practical kitchen essentials, spacious bedrooms and helpful baby gear. They’ve even thought to provide 4-socket UK plug boards to keep all those godsend family gadgets all charged up!
L'Etable was originally a stone cowshed which the owners have beautifully converted into a 2-bedroom gite with loads of character that’s especially well equipped for a family of 4 with a baby or toddlers. The ground floor has an open plan layout so parents can always keep an eye on little ones and this is dominated by an impressive Charentais fireplace, although this isn’t used for a real fire nowadays. The living area has a leather settee and pouffe, a wooden armchair and toddler sized seats to watch the TV with English channels, or DVD’s, and there is plenty of space to spread out the board games or books and pull out toys from the box, including a baby ride-on and toddler bike. The dining area has a table that seats 8, (plus a high chair and booster seat are available), which is handy if L’Etable is booked with the adjoining studio, L’Ecurie. The kitchen is well equipped for family self -catering, including a gas hob, electric oven, microwave, kettle, toaster, fridge-freezer, washing machine, plastic crockery, cutlery and a bottle steriliser. The master bedroom, with a large double bed, overlooks the garden and the second bedroom has twin beds with bed guards if required. Both have space for a travel cot, which is available. The bathroom has a walk-in shower, washbasin and WC, plus a baby bath, toddler seat and toilet step can be provided. L’Etable has a gravelled garden area with a table and chairs, sun loungers and a charcoal barbecue.
La Fermette farmhouse and gites are set in a quiet farming hamlet, surrounded by fields of wheat, maize, sunflowers and vines in the Charente Maritime region of South West France. A fabulous choice of dune backed beaches, vast sandy bays and seaside towns are also as little as 30 minutes drive, including Meshers sur Gironde which has kids club activities throughout the summer.
The village of St Genis de Saintonge is just 2 minutes drive or a pleasant bike ride (2.5kms), which has the all-important boulangerie for daily baguettes and pastries, as well as a butchers, mini-market, bank and restaurants.
The medieval town of Pons is only 8kms away, with pavement cafes around a pretty square and a magnificent ‘Chateau des Enigmes’ – a castle of riddles - where families can have heaps of fun following a treasure hunt trail of adventure games and puzzles. For another great day out, the historic spa town of Jonzac (20 mins) boasts one of the largest indoor aquatic centres in Europe, Les Antilles de Jonzac, with tropical lagoon pools and a sandy beach, wave pools, waterfalls, and waterslides, plus Turkish baths, saunas, steam rooms and a spa beauty salon for grown-ups. For outdoor fun, a purpose built recreation park is also close to Les Antilles, featuring a swimming lake with a sandy beach, playgrounds and all kinds of activities throughout the summer.
The brandy capital of Cognac is just over half an hour’s drive, with a pretty riverside, pedestrianised old town and, of course tours and tastings at all the most famous distilleries. The region is also renowned for its Pineau fortified wine and there are numerous vineyards to stock up on the local ‘Blaye’ wines and finest Bordeaux. The historic port of La Rochelle is an hour’s drive, with bustling cobbled streets, pavement cafes and interesting shops within the ancient city walls as well as the top family attraction of an eye-popping, state of the art aquarium.
Nearest medical services: is in St Genis (2.5km) plus doctors, dentist and pharmacy. Out of hours medical care is in Jonzac Hospital.
Getting here: Bordeaux and La Rochelle airports are both approximately 1 hours drive, with flights from airports across the UK. The nearest cross channel ferry ports are Le Havre, Caen and Roscoff, approximately 6 hrs drive.