Per weekfrom 995.00 to 1995.00 EUR
Idyllically set amongst sunflowers and rolling meadows, this former priory is now an idyllic family-friendly retreat comprising three luxurious gites and a stylish B&B, along with a large heated pool and a Table d'hotes open usually 3 days a week, plus a whole host of child-friendly play gear and nursery equipment. This is most definitely, self-catering for softies!
The priory buildings of Ste Catherine de la Champ were built by monks in the 1700s and were all but ruined when the friendly May family fell in love with the place in 2006 and decided this would be the start of a new life in France. Undaunted by the scale of the restoration and renovation project, the Mays set about creating a home for themselves and a place where other families could share their dream in the Charente countryside.
The family of three, plus their soppy dogs and Jet the cat, finally moved here from the UK in 2010 and have made it their mission to go way above and beyond the average gite holiday and especially catering for parents with preschoolers.
They’ve sensitively converted the priory into three luxuriously appointed gites and have been justly rewarded with 4-star ratings by the Chambre de Tourisme. Not content with simply adding quality fixtures and fittings for grown-ups, the Mays also provide top notch child-friendly kit too. To take the pain out of packing, there’s a long list of nursery gear (see Fast Facts tab) and boxes of toys all tailored to children’s ages, including Lego, Playmobil, garage, train set, shop, dressing up outfits, loads of books and DVD’s. Plus, the TV’s have UK channels including all-important Cbeebies and Wi FI is available inside and out.
Each of the three gites boasts the privacy of their own garden and dining patio but families can also safely spill into the secure shared grounds of The Courtyard, where children have lots to keep them happy including a trampoline, swings plus baby swing, sand pit, slide and climbing frame, swing ball, basket ball and football goal posts. During the summer, children can also sign up for Bebe Poney from three, mug painting workshops with arty Michaela who will take away the masterpieces to be baked and glazed as a perfect memento. Even babies can do a foot print plate to take back for Granny.
The swimming pool at The Courtyard is completely fenced and gated, to give parents peace of mind while children roam, free range, around the garden and there are plenty of sun loungers for a sneaky snooze in the sun. The pool is 1.5 metres deep right the way across, with corner steps for easier access and it’s heated to a comfortable 27°c from 1st May to end of September.
Perhaps the thing that really sets The Courtyard apart from other gites is Steph’s Table d'hote which serves 3-course menus usually 3 times a week. Steph has a real passion for cooking and takes full advantage of the superb Charentais produce to create a range of menus, not just of French dishes but also Italian, Greek, Indian, Thai, Caribbean and Middle Eastern. The Mays have a licence to serve alcohol and the covered, al fresco dining terrace is the perfect setting to enjoy a delicious and relaxing restaurant-style meal, in the twinkle of fairy lights, with gentle mood music beneath star-studded skies.
Breakfasts and morning croissant delivery are also available, so although the gites have well equipped fitted kitchens for self catering, mealtimes at The Courtyard can be a highlight of the holiday rather than a hassle.
Chez Aristide (sleeps 4 adults, 2 children + baby) has an official 4-star rating from the French tourist board and is the largest of the three gites at the Courtyard. Originally the pilgrims’ lodgings of the old priory, the owners have renovated, decorated and furnished the gite in a wonderfully light and contemporary style which is luxurious and incredibly conducive for families to relax. The living/dining area and kitchen is spacious and open plan, with French doors straight onto the south-facing terrace and garden, with ample seating, a shade sail and barbecue, plus the pool area is just 10 seconds away. In the living area, families can flop into two large sofas in front of a wood burning stove, to watch favourite Freesat channels on the HDTV or choose a DVD, play with toys and games or listen to music through the iPod dock. Mealtimes can be either laid back or formal on the antique refectory table with bench seating for 6 (plus high chair) and the funky modern kitchen is well equipped for self catering and includes a range oven, microwave, fridge freezer, coffee maker, dishwasher and washing machine. The master bedroom at Chez Aristide has a king size bed and Juliet balcony with views to the south over open countryside. The second bedroom has king size bed which can also be twins and the third is a children’s room, in a seaside theme, with bunk beds and a pretty wooden cot. The main family bathroom has a bath with a shower, washbasin and WC, plus there is walk-in shower, with washbasin and WC on the ground floor.
The Courtyard at Ste Catherine is surrounded by Cognac vineyards and fields of sunflowers in the Charente countryside of South West France. Formerly a priory, the gites have a peaceful rural setting but everything families need on a daily basis is just minutes away in the ancient, pretty market Town of Rouillac, which also has weekly markets and one of the oldest and largest farmers markets in France on the 27th of each month.
The nearby town of Jarnac (20 mins) is on the banks of the Charente River which makes a natural playground for picnics, paddling and canoeing or taking a boat trip on a canopied ‘chabot’. Families can also spend the day on the lake shore St Yrieix which has a beach, children’s park and the Nautilus swimming centre with indoor and outdoor pools, water slides, wave pools and aqua bikes.
Cognac, the famous Cognac capital of the world, is just 15 miles away, with plenty of shops, museums, galleries and great restaurants, including the recommended super child friendly La Scala overlooking the river. Children will also spend many happy hours at Base Plein Air on the river, which features 8 hectares of playing fields, an open air cafe and a play park for all ages with climbing frames, rope slides, crazy roundabouts and swings. During the summer months, a town of bouncy castles and soft play zones appear and the outdoor pool is open as well as trampolines and crazy golf. No visit to Cognac would be complete without a tour and tasting of one of the famous brandy vineyards and the owners of The Courtyard can arrange a discount at the Courvoisier estate
Angouleme (20 mins) is the capital of the region and a fun place for families to explore as the capital of the comic strip. Cartoon characters are depicted on giant wall paintings around the town and over 8000 original drawings are in the Musée de la Bande Dessinée. To eat out with the kids, the owners recommend Le Pistou next to the covered market, Les Halles.
For a day at the seaside, one of the owners’ favourite spots is Fouras (1hr 15) with lovely beaches, kids club activities, boat trips, a fort and great restaurants to sample the renowned west coast seafood.
Nearest medical services: The owner has the French Croix Rouge PS1 first aid qualification; Paediatric A&E at Angouleme (20mins)
Getting here: The airports of Bordeaux, Limoges and La Rochelle are all under 90 minutes’ drives. Calais is 7 hours and Caen 4.5 hours
Check-in time: 16:00
Check-out time: 10:00
Reservation Deposit: 30%
Balance: 42 days prior to arrival
Check-in time: 16:00
Check-out time: 10:00
Reservation Deposit: 30%
Balance: 42 days prior to arrival
We are Charlie, Steph and Finn (9) May. Our family also comrpises two very gentle soppy dogs called Lilah and Suzie and Jet the cat.
Mums and Dads love it here because they can really relax with their children safe and occupied. The concierge service takes the stress out of thinking of and booking "things to do" and the "pop up restaurant" means they can have a night out without going anywhere. The gites are really well equipped (so you don't need to bring the kitchen sink) and the cleaning service takes the stress out of leaving day.
The kids love...the dogs, the art table, the boxes of toys, the huge lego box, the riding, the goat farm, the boat trip, the books, the pool, the play area, the sand pit, the spaghetti bolognese, the ice creams with sprinkles, the other kids.....the freedom.
Sleeps 6 + infant in 2 x king size bed, 1 x bunk room.
Limoges, Bordeaux, La Rochelle all under 90 minutes
Limoges, Bordeaux, La Rochelle all under 90 minutes.
Lovely shared, heated (27 degrees 1 May - 30 Sept annually), gated pool with incline steps. Travel cot to use as a play pen.
Each cottage has a proper wooden cot with mattress protector, cotton sheet and bumpers provided. Each cottage has a high chair, socket cover, stairgates, plastic crockery, cups and steriliser.
Loads of books, DVD, boxes of lego, playmobil and a dressing up box.
Pre arrival shopping available and daily bread an crossaints delivery available.
Trampoline, swing, slide, climbing frame, swing ball, football goal and basket ball.
Table dhote service offered three times a week.
Stairgates are provided.
Each cottage has a private terrace and there are large gated grounds with plenty of space to run around.
Wi-Fi is provided.
Dogs are accepted.
Golf courses can be found 20 minutes drive away.
Tennis courts can be found under 5 minutes drive away.
This romantic gite has a stove fire in the lounge.
Please click the text to scroll through reviews.
The Courtyard is an amazing place to stay. Steph and her family made us feel so welcome. This was the first time we had taken our 18-month-old abroad so it was a welcome relief to stay somewhere with all the equipment you could possibly need on a daily basis (cot, highchair, toys, books, stairgate.... I could go on). It made travelling a lot more enjoyable and meant room for our stuff too!!
The accommodation was spacious, clean and tastefully decorated to complement the old building. We had our own private garden with a BBQ and plenty of seating. The swimming pool was clean and a great place to spend hot sunny days. There is also a small play area with a sandpit, trampoline, swing ball, swings & slides.
The on-site dining which Steph personally cooks and serves to you outside in the courtyard is fantastic. The food is so flavoursome and Steph goes above and beyond to make sure everyone is catered for (even the fussy ones). We ended up ...
If you are looking for a totally relaxing break with your young family, you don't need to look any further......The Courtyard at Saint Catherine is perfect for you!
I stayed recently for 2 weeks in Chez Aristide with my husband, my 6 year old daughter and 4 year old boy/girl twins. My parents joined us for 8 nights in the middle of our holiday but more about that later.
We had an amazing 2 weeks and I cannot speak highly enough of the wonderful hosts, Steph and her husband Charlie. They have thought of everything so your gite truly is a home from home! You really only need to bring your passports, credit card and clothes!
For the parents; they are basic provisions to get your holiday off to a good start without having to rush out to the supermarket the minute you arrive! A few dishwasher tablets, washing up liquid, dish cloths, bin bags, foil, cling film, kitchen roll, fly spray, kitchen cleaners, hand soap, charcoal and firelighters fo ...