This cluster of two elegant gites combine stylish interiors with fantastic parent-friendly touches from a warmly heated pool to a huge list of nursery gear and toys, plus handy services such as babysitting and pre-arrival shopping, which allow parents the luxury of travelling light and relaxing from the outset. Not only that but they also have an idyllic countryside location within a short stroll of a handy bar and pizzeria and a slightly longer cycle to a bustling village with handy shops, bistros and a lively evening market scene in summer. The sights and shops of La Rochelle are a short drive away whilst the miles of endless beaches and 'Paris on Sea' in Il de Re are just a little further. All in all, its a little slice of heaven!
Transforming two 18th century barns into modern-vintage gites has allowed the owners to combine their passion for French antiques with all their parental know-how in the art of happy, hassle-free family holidays. Having raised their own children here, they’ve thoughtfully designed and equipped the gites with families in mind, from a long list of helpful baby and toddler gear, to making the garden a safe, fun place to play.
Besides busying themselves with keeping the gites and gardens spotless and ship-shape, the owners spend spare time scouring the French ‘brocanterie’ markets to find unique pieces of vintage French furnishings and antiques, from the quirky and shabby-chic to classically elegant. They now sell many of their finds online but have also made them a feature of the gites to bring out their period French character – iron bedsteads here, colourful tin coffee pots there.
While capturing the essence of authentic French living, the gites also provide every modern comfort and convenience parents rely on, from flat screen TV, DVD player, iPod dock and free wi fi to a large collection of toys, games and books. Hand-painted units in the kitchens are complemented by high quality modern appliances and keen cooks will find all the equipment they need, including a hand blender for wuzzing up baby dinners. The living rooms are furnished with comfy sofas and armchairs to flop into and the bedrooms are the epitome of easy elegance, with views over the pool, garden and neighbouring sunflower fields. The gites are designed for up to 6 people, so it’s handy to have both a family bathroom with WC and a separate shower room with WC on the ground floor.
Each gite has its’ own private, gravelled garden, with teak dining furniture, loungers and a barbecue, but beyond this a large, lawned garden and enclosed pool area provides a natural haven for children to play. Little ones can switch between the swings, slide, sand pit, small trampoline and trikes or go in search of the friendly family cat, Twiglet. There’s plenty of room for a football knock-about, badminton or boules and fruit trees provide a shady spot for a picnic. The warmly heated swimming pool has Roman steps at the shallow end for easy toddler access and inflatable pool toys are provided, while parents can chill out on the surrounding deck, furnished with teak steamer chairs, plump cushions and parasols.
Le Cognassier and Le Cerisier are both designed for up to 6 people plus two babies in cots which can be provided. Both gites have three bedrooms, comprising one with a king size bed, one double and one twin room. The gites have a shower room with WC on the ground floor and a family bathroom upstairs. There is plenty of room for 2 families holidaying together or to accommodate grand-parents.
Please note: On confirmation of reservation requests a 1.20 euro per adult, per night, tourist tax will be added to the cost of stay.
Le Cognassier and le Cerisier are to be found in a tranquil, countryside setting around 45 minutes inland from the historic walled sea port of La Rochelle, around half way down the West Coast of France. The nearest bar/restaurant is 5 minutes walk, serving pizzas to eat in or take-away and the local village, Loulay, is only 2 minutes’ drive, with the all-important boulangerie, mini-market, pharmacy, bank and a bar/restaurant. During the summer months, live bands strike up the music on Friday nights in Loulay village square.
The nearby medieval market town of St. Jean d’Angély is brimming with French character, with its leafy squares, timber houses, cobbled streets, a 15th Century clock tower and abbey. Twice a week the tantalizing market of local produce fills the streets and pavement cafes, bars and restaurants are just the spot to soak up the buzzing atmosphere. Atlantys Aqua Centre has a 50m water slide and canoes or kayaks can be hired at a nearby lake. Families can also have a round of crazy golf while older children may well pester to have a few laps at the local Go Karting circuit.
The Chize forest is a certified reserve for local wildlife, including roe deer, wild boar and even wolves but there is also the less wild option of a mini farm, play area and cafe. Antezant on the river Boutonne is an idyllic spot for a picnic, shaded by trees and with a play area, boules area a snack bar.
A day trip or two to La Rochelle is not to be missed, with quaint arcaded streets of chic shops, cafes and bistros crammed within the ancient city walls. Families can explore the ramparts, take boat trips to nearby islands, visit the Aquarium and mini zoo, then maybe take time out on the little beach with some welcome refreshments at La Brasserie de la Plage.
From La Rochelle, an impressive suspension bridge links the mainland to the lovely Ile de Re, renowned for its charming harbour towns like St Martin, soft sand beaches and superb seafood, especially oysters. The island is perfect for exploring on bicycles, thanks to being nice and flat with a network of well marked cycle tracks criss-crossing between the towns and beaches.
Besides the beaches on the Ile de Re, the fantastic sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast are within an hour or so’s drive of the gites. Châtelaillon-Plage and Fouras are two of the owners’ favourites, and both have seafront restaurants serving fresh-caught seafood.
Getting There: Le Cognassier and Le Cerisier are 45 minutes drive from La Rochelle airport, 1 hour from Poitiers and 1 hr 30 from Bordeaux.
Nearest Medical Services (GP & A&E): GP at 2 minutes drive, Hospital at 15 mins drive