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!
La Fermette is a traditional farmhouse with very spacious rooms, which makes it especially suitable for larger families of up to 7 plus a baby in a cot. The farmhouse kitchen has a long table that seats 10 (plus a highchair) alongside a log burner and it has been well equipped for big family catering, including a 5 ring gas hob and electric oven, stainless steel prep table and butchers block, larder fridge, freezer, microwave and all the essential utensils. The kitchen opens out to the gites’ south-facing garden where there is a dining table and chairs, charcoal barbecue and sun loungers. The large sitting room also opens onto the garden and has 2 settees in front of an imposing stone fireplace with a log burning stove where families can snuggle down to watch the TV with English channels, or DVD’s, or choose from the games and books provided. One of the 3 bedrooms is on the ground floor with a double bed and a roll top bath with shower attachment in a panelled alcove, plus there is a separate downstairs shower room. An oak staircase leads from the sitting room to a large bedroom with two single beds and space for a third single bed if required. This bedroom leads through to the master bedroom which makes it ideal for young children but a screen is also available for a little more privacy. The master bedroom is very large, with a king size bed and an ensuite WC. All the bedrooms have space for a travel cot which is available.
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.