There’s nothing I like more than a delicious glass of chilled fine wine, a selection of rich cheeses, a little sunshine and great company and where better to enjoy all of this but in France surrounded by undulating vineyards and beautiful blue skies? An area I like to visit is Southern Charente, situated at the crossing of Perigord, Dordogne and Gironde and only a short drive to Bordelais, one of the greatest wine growing regions in the world. At just a little under an hour to the coast, Southern Charente offers visitors plenty to do with copious amounts of wine to taste, riverside villages restaurants, churches and museums to explore, colourful markets to browse, plentiful windmills to admire and boat cruises to enjoy from Cognac, Jarnac or Saintes. Travel is easy to with flights taking an hour and a half flying direct from London to Bordeaux Mérignac Airport international airport or Southamption to La Rochelle, Limoges and Bergerac Airports (flights start from around £80 GBP). If you are travelling by road it’s about 4.5 hours drive from the ferry port at Caen and a little over 5 hours from St Malo.
A great place from which to discover this area is Maison St Louis, a small gîte complex nestled between Cognac vines and fields of sunflowers in the heart of the beautiful South Charente countryside. The gîtes at Maison St Louis are perfectly located to offer a relaxing break for families of all sizes and because of their location, which benefits from a micro-climate created by the Gironde Estuary, they enjoy nearly as many hours of sunshine per year as the Cote d’Azur! Comprising of 3 gîtes, a large pool, over an acre of private gardens, terraces for al-fresco dining and a games room for children of all ages, you should have everything you need for a great family break!
Each gîte enjoys period features, country styling and direct access to the private enclosed gardens and a large pool. For 2016 a toddler’s splash pool will also be added to the garden. The smallest ‘Le Campsis’ gîte, sleeps up to 7 (5 in bedroom’s and 2 on sofa beds). This property encompasses open plan apartment living, with two large bedrooms (1 double and 1 triple), fully fitted bathroom (with shower and bath), a large entertaining area with comfortable sofa’s, flat screen TV with UK Freeview, Wi-Fi, dining and open plan fully equipped kitchen with vintage style cooker, fridge freezer, microwave and range of units. Outside you will find a private dining area with BBQ too. The larger ‘Le Bourg’ gîte is spread over two floors and sleeps up to 10 guests in 5 bedrooms. This property features a flagstone kitchen (complete with a range of units, dishwasher, fully integrated hob and oven, microwave, fridge, freezer and coffee maker), large open plan living area furnished with sofa’s, flat screen TV and French doors leading onto the private outdoor dining area with BBQ, as well as a bathroom and shower-room. Finally, the largest gîte is ‘St Louis’ which is a 3 floor abode which can take up to 10 guests staying in 5 bedrooms. This property features its own private courtyard; a spacious and well equipped kitchen (complete with fitted units, range cooker, dishwasher, microwave, double fridge, double freezer and coffee maker); dining room; two bathrooms (with bath and shower); a large, bright and airy lounge with sofas, chairs, a flat screen TV (with UK Freeview and Wi-Fi) and tall French doors opening onto a private dining area with BBQ. The master bedroom at this property also offers wonderful views from its ornate dual aspect windows. Prices start from €270 EUR per week in low season.
As well as the sights I’ve already mentioned that are worth a see, there are plenty of towns and villages to discover just a short drive away like the beautiful village of Aubeterre sur Dronne which offers great shopping and dining. And if you are into your Shakespeare, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men occasionally perform in the Grounds of Maison St Louis at the end of the summer too, giving you another great reason to visit.
So if you are looking for a relaxing break to reconnect with your family, or simply fancy a trip to the wine country then a visit to one of the gîtes at Maison St Louis in South Charente might just be the thing for you.
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