Please note any prices and or opening times that are quoted are approximate and to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing this. Prices can fluctuate according to inflation or even time of season. If there is something you are particularly interested in seeing, we recommend you google them and check prices and opening times yourself. You can use google translate in your browser if you can’t understand the language.
For Families with Children
Apart from the obvious buzz and clean salty air, La Rochelle is the most visited city on the west coast of France and will take you from 40 minutes to an hour by car, We ‘ll go into more detail about the recommendations we have for adults later, but here is what we recommend for families with children of all ages…
The Aquarium, A fantastic indoor Aquarium full of families and amazing theatrical start to the tour in a trembling submarine lift that opens out to a glass tunnel with sharks swimming above you!! A brilliant meandering tour where you can take a head set in your chosen language and learn all about the history of the various species. Hundreds of tanks large and small where you can observe sea horses, piranhas, turtles, hammer headed sharks (one we were told was 22 years old) and all manner of marine life. Popping out at the end of the tour into an Indiana Jones style tropical waterfall glass roofed garden. The tour can be taken at your own pace and we would suggest 90 minutes to 2 hours would be a sensible window to allow. A guideline price of 40 Euros for 2 adults and 2 kids.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are all served in the roof top café which we have personally been to and would recommend.
Boat trips to the Islands
As if La Rochelle wasn’t enough for anyone already, you can leave the bustling harbour on a variety of tour boats taking you to Ile De Re, Ile Oleron and Ile D’Aix.
Departures all vary but we have noticed they tend to do a couple of tours a day, morning or afternoon. To leave in the morning around 9 to am and return for Lunch or at the end of the day, or to leave after Lunch around 2:30 returning around 6 pm. The boats vary in size and facilities and some let you get onto the islands for a look round and some just sail by. Children of all ages will enjoy the excitement of being on the boat and the adults will enjoy the beautiful green sea and scenery.
Ile De Re – The most popular Island, we recommend a day trip on its own without the boat, Adults will enjoy this more than children but there always the beaches (more about Ile De Re later)
Ile De Oleron -The second Largest French Island after Corsica with stunning clean beaches with pine forest back drops, great for a long Lunch in St Pierre or long long walks on the beach
Ile D ‘Aix – A small Island with few inhabitants, so small in fact that only form of on land transport is bicycles and roller blades! Enchanting but maybe not so good for really young children.
The nearest beach to the house. We find 35 to 40 minutes is about right to arrive and park along the long promenade. Feedback from guests has suggested 50 minutes but it is really down to traffic and the time of season or if you get stuck behind a tractor!! This clean and safe beach is well known by locals and you can enjoy windsurfing and swimming in the sea. The obvious benefit is building sand castles for the kids while there are two or three shack style cafes on the actual beach itself. Here you can eat a fabulous seafood lunch with a bottle of Muscadet feeling the sand between your toes. These shacks are very child friendly, with excellent children’s meal options and seem very generous when it comes to dishing up the ice-cream!! We recommend these for couples and families but especially families with babies and toddlers because the restaurant owners allow you sit at the edge near the sand while your children play with the buckets and spades provided under nice cooling thatched parasols. One tip is they are not linked to any telephones and as such they cannot take card payments so you will need cash.
Off the main promenade there are more sophisticated restaurants serving European Style cuisine as well as the fresh seafood which is the main reason the locals go there. Most look out over the sea and the waiting staff usually speak English. Moderate value, expect to pay around 24 Euros a head including drinks on the promenade and around 18 Euros per head on the sand. Most restaurants have children’s menus and are approx. 8 Euros including ice cream.
NB the tide goes out after Lunch until about 4:30 pm (which is when the locals flock there) It can be quite squelchy and muddy away from the main sands. Which is either unpleasant or a good laugh depending on how you feel!! Our recommendation is get there around 9:30 to 10 am, have good old run around and play on the beach while its empty, an essential swim in the sea, before showering off at the many on beach showers then slipping on a tee-shirt and taking 2 hours over lunch under an umbrella! The rest of the afternoon can be spent lying on the beach or just tootle off back to the house early for a dip.
Royan is a lovely resort, less historic and more of modern flavour with its crescent shaped beach, lively restaurants and night life. It will take you around an hour to get there, head for Saintes then follow the signs for Royan.
La Palmyre – We are recommending Royan because it has the beach which is always a winner with children but it has an incredible Zoo. A great family day out where you can stand on a platform and feed giraffes (which we ve got be honest didn’t do!) You can stroll round this wonderful parkland right on the glistening coast and see amazing flamingos, herds of Elephants, Zebras, monkeys, all kinds of rodents and birds, performing seals and to top it all off there are polar bears playing ball and swimming in glass sided swimming pools. A must see for all the family. Parking is easy and free just outside (possibly be chargeable now) We paid 15 Euros a head (adult) and under 4s go Free.
Chize is a large national forest park and only around 20 minutes’ drive away. Whilst the forest itself may only appeal to families wanting to have long walks and ride bikes, there is another Zoo there called Zoodysse. Not to the same scale as La Palmyre but if you wanted a quick 2 or 3 hour jaunt out with the kids, they will enjoy seeing Buffalos, Lynxes, Foxes, wild boar, owls and four legged friends, a mini farm where children can meet and pet the animals which is a nice little memory for them. Its not as expensive as La Palmyre and we would recommend for children over 5. We took our 2-year-old in a pram and to be honest he fell asleep! You can stretch the day out with a picnic if you want or just mosey on back to the house!!
Coulon - The Marias Poitevin is dubbed Frances answer to the Norfolk Broads, and is a truly majestic network of interconnecting rivers and streams. Its picturesque green waters give it its French name “Venise Vert” or Green Venice. The idea is you hire a boat to paddle yourself and stop off at one of the many banks for a picnic and watch the world go by. Children will enjoy the excitement of being on a boat and seeing other children on boats and the thrill of a picnic on a grass bank will be a joy! If rowing your own boat doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you’ve gone on holiday to do, we understand and would say there are passenger boats you can pay a fare on with other passengers and be shown the main attractions that way.
A nice family day out and well shaded in the most part. We recommend Coulon as a starting point and a place where you can choose your vessel. Plenty of traditional restaurants and taverns can be found along the way. Prices for the boat hire is reasonable.
Poitiers. A fantastic future inspired outdoor theme park. A fun packed day out and a quick drive up the A10 for about 40 to 50 minutes. Too much to describe, it’s an experience that adults and children alike will take away from their holiday.
Terrific rides, shows and adventures this adventure park is one of Frances most popular adventure parks and we recommend a full day with lunch at one of the many themed restaurants.
St Jean D’ Angley
Picine Atlantys is a great indoor and outdoor water park with water slides and great if you get a rainy day
A large outdoor pool, not that you need a pool but good if the children want to play with other children. Its 6 minutes up the road.
The village park
A 1 minute walk, turn right out of the gates and small park with slides, swings, roundabout and seesaw is free to the public, not the most exciting thing ever but sometimes its just what you need.
Many other leaflets are left by our many guests as well as restaurant recommendations. These can be found in the hall drawer in Maison Du Puits or in the folder in Le Petit Logis
Day trips for Adults
Whilst this region caters very well for Families as just mentioned, some of the above may appeal to couples and groups of adults, just miss out the zoos and replace the ice cream with a Cognac!
Here are some tips for a great sophisticated day out that will inevitably involve good food and the odd tipple on the way!!
This is the jewel in the crown and if you don’t make it here on your visit you ll be sure to want to come back.
La Rochelle was founded during the 10th century and became an important harbour in the 12th century trading in salt, cheese and of course wine.
Today it is a bustling harbour city with its magnificent twin towers casting shadows over the cobbled streets. We love it for its stylish home-ware boutiques and its many harbour fronted restaurants and cafes. You cannot go wrong with any of these magnificent eateries. Do as we do and gently peruse the menus at the front until you find that one that has Sole on the menu!! (our favourite) You will be as happy here people watching eating the very popular Moules Mariniere if you are on a budget as you would be with a bottle of Chablis and a triple stack of Fruit de la mere if you’ve just had a bonus!!
From Lunch time onwards is when we would recommend but you can’t really ignore the daily market where you hear the chefs fighting over the best cuts of meat. We would go as far as to say that its worth it to just go to the market and go home again (otherwise take a cool box!)
La Rochelle comes even more alive at night so we would recommend seeing it, particularly on a Friday or Saturday night with its street markets and street performers adding to the already vibrant atmosphere. Les Quatre Sergents is restaurant a few streets back from the main harbour front that we personally recommend if you are looking for a nice late night dinner. With its double height atrium glass courtyard with indoor palm trees has a romantic softly lit atmosphere. It wont be the cheapest meal you ve ever had though!!
Ile De Re
Connected by a bridge over the sea from La Rochelle, The Ile De Re is an absolute must for anyone wanting to experience a bit of glamour that this chic resort offers. Popular with well healed Parisians and notably the island of choice for Jonny Depp. Reputed to get as many sunshine hours as the Cote D Azur this small island is best seen by bicycle and the wonderful white sandy beaches are so unspoilt its unbelievable. A trip to St Martin de Re, the islands capital is a stylish chic harbour with fantastic restaurants. Sit and people watch while the odd Ferrari passes by. There is a 13 Euro toll to get to the Island but don’t let that put you off from a must see resort.
40 minutes south East of the house is historic Cognac. After half an hour driving you will start to find cognac country with its rolling vineyards and as you start to get closer to the town, the smell of the distilleries fills the air with what is called “the Angels share” referring to the evaporating liquor as it distills in its millions of barrels.
Famous Cognac houses of Corvoisier, Martel and Remy Martin all have their historic distilleries on the banks of the Charente river. We recommend a tour and tasting at one of them where you get a small boat trip from the visitor centre over to the original distillery. Many Special editions are available exclusively for sale to visitors, some of which are reserved for royalty and not available in shops. The main square has around 6 fabulous restaurants always bustling and incredibly full of Americans who are really drawn to the area for its rich reputation and history.
Described above in the Family section
St Jean D ‘Angely
A small medieval town with soaring twin towers to watch out over the town. Its only 15 minutes drive south, a nice atmosphere in the main square where a visit to Ellis Park pub and brasserie is where its at both day and night. This isn’t a place we recommend a full day to enjoy, but if you want to kill a few hours in the afternoon and enjoy a cool beer or a cappuccino under some parasols, with a bit of bustle then its perfect for that. At night Le Scorlion Restaurant is fabulous for high end French Gastronomy. Perfect for couples or large groups who really enjoy good food.
Another small town about 20 minutes west on the way to La Rochelle is a good spot for a cheap and cheerful dinner out at Le Grand Café for Moules or Pizza Roma with very good pizzas and nice buzz particularly in summer. There is a Romanesque church you can visit and have nice stroll in the park.
Dampierre Sur Bouttone
A quick 5 minute drive brings you to the nearest Chateau thats open to the public. Set on the banks of the Bouttonne, this magnificent example was renovated in around 2008 and a must see.
The city of love is hardly close and not really why you are coming to the Charente but you should know that if you felt like it you can get the TGV from Niort (25 mins north) and shoot up for a day trip to Paris. It takes 2 hours 15 minutes. Not really much we can say about Paris, we think you will have heard about it!!