Water parks and swimming in Charente Maritime

We are well served here in the Charente Maritime for fun filled water parks. From babies and toddlers to teens, every child loves the water. Our own two have always been more than happy to jump into a freezing puddle in winter or an unheated pool in autumn never mind a heated pool with water slides in mid summer !

Our two closest water parks/swimming centres are Atlantys in Saint Jean d’Angely (10 mins drive) and Nautilus in Angouleme (40 mins drive) and les Iles de Jonzac, (60mins)  and a little further afield we have Ileo on the Ile d’Oleron (1hr15)

We are regular visitors to Atlantys as it is so close and being all indoors it’s good all through the year. Nautilus is more of a summer day out as much of the really fun stuff is outdoors so you need a nice hot day. We havn’t tried Les Iles de Jonzac or Ileo but they’ve got good trip advisor reviews.

Atlantys swimming centre

We’ve been swimming at Atlantys since the children were babies; On Saturday mornings (10-12) outside school holidays (so September to end June) the pool is exclusively open for the under 4’s, the temperature is turned up, change mats and pottys are supplied by the pool and the pool is filled with balls, floats, mats, climbing frames and all manner of fun stuff for little ones – I went every week with my two when they were toddlers, this is where they learnt to swim at such a young age. Volunteers give advice on how to get your toddlers confident in the water.

In summer holidays it is open every day. The doors open up into a sunbathing area and play area for the little ones. There’s also a café for snacks.  There’s no time limit on how long you stay. Clean changing rooms, lockers (need a 2€ coin- refunded after) toilets and showers. Be warned – men and boys (even toddlers) MUST wear tight fitting swimwear – no loose swim shorts allowed and this is enforced. Suitable swimwear can be purchased from a vending machine inside but may be cheaper to buy them beforehand.

The Atlantys swimming pool center is just next to the Saint Jean d’Angely park, so you can easily spend the day here.

Nautilus water park

We first visited Nautilus water park when the children were little. It wasn’t a great day out, in fact we only stayed about an hour. There was a shallow toddler area but most of the ‘fun’ was outside with rapids, and huge water slides with big teenagers running around. If you’ve got little kids we’d recommend Atlantys instead or we have heard that the Iles de Jonzac is great for younger children and has more facilities than Atlantys with a wave pool too.






We next went when the children were much older and good swimmers and we were able to let them run around freely whilst we relaxed on a sunbed – It was our kids that were the big kids now ! They loved it. The slide is huge, theres an outdoor water slide with about 5 lanes and you wizz down really fast then the wave pool is always fun for everyone and the rapids are fun too but if your kids are a bit younger / smaller then go on with them as the teens can be a bit excitable in pushing past.

There’s loads of parking, clean secure changing rooms with lockers and of course toilets. There’s a restaurant and a snack bar and an ice skating rink too open every afternoon from 3pm in summer (July/August) The pools are open every day from 10am in July and August. Again tight fitting swimmers must be worn.

Other swimming options

Of course you don’t really need to leave ‘home’ to enjoy the water experience. Both our family friendly holiday sites have heated pools. At La Grange du Moulin our main pool (10mx5m) is heated to 28c and the toddler pool (4m diameter and 60 cm deep) is heated to 30c. The toddler pool is filled with floats and watering cans and is shaded from the heat of the day too.







We also have a hot tub at La Grange du Moulin, in it’s own secure area Mum and Dad can relax at the end of the day after the children are in bed and watch the stars with a ‘glass’ (plastic champagne flutes are provided !) in 38c and massage jets.









At Les Vallaies holiday cottages the heated pool has a sloping beach entrance which starts at 15cm so ideal for toddlers and young children to paddle in. There’s also a bubble pool.

Just a 30 min drive from our holiday cottages is Les Gours plan d’eau. A swimming lake with a sandy beach, café bar, life guard and playground. An ideal swimming place if you don’t fancy driving to the ‘real’ beach

The Charente Maritime also has hundreds of miles of sandy beaches. for sea swimming and fun. Even in peak season you’ll be able to find a beach that’s not crowded. The mainland beaches have shallow gently sloping beaches, so great for families; the islands on the Atlantic side have rougher waters, great for older children who love waves.


Whatever your swimming preferences there’s something for everyone when staying with us at our family holiday cottages La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies

Content by Wendy Blakeman




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Saint Jean d’Angely…..

Our local town of Saint Jean d’Angely

Just a 10km easy drive from our family holiday cottages, La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies lies the market town of Saint Jean d’Angely. With a population of just 7000 it has a surprising number of great facilities. There are two large supermarkets plus several smaller ones; providing a good array of produce including fresh milk, big familiar names (Kelloggs, Nescafé and even PG tips in the foreign foods section)


The town also boasts a thrice weekly local market (Wednesday and Saturday mornings and a smaller Sunday morning one too) Here you can wander the cobbled medieval streets with the locals and pick up fresh fish, oysters and mussels, home grown vegetables, as well as local wines and cheeses.

Restaurants, cafés and bars

After practicing your French chatting to the producers and picking up some local delights for your evening meal you can relax in a café bar and watch the local life go by. There are dozens of bars where you can sit outside and soak up the atmosphere of a small French town. ‘Ellis park’ and ‘Rum runners’ are two of the most central ones, located on the place du Pilori. The children can run in and out of the tables and peer into the ornate Pilori well (don’t worry it’s covered !) whilst you enjoy a morning coffee. When my two were young, they used to enjoy dipping their croissants a large hot chocolate – very French !


The town also boasts a good selection of restaurants from simple bistros to top class cuisine. Le Scorlion and La Goule Beneze are two restaurants worthy of a babysitter. Enjoy a night out whilst I (a registered childminder) look after your children in your holiday cottage. Alternatively enjoy one of the many family restaurants the town has to offer – L’Annexe and Le Cabanon bistros,  Les Jacobins pizzeria, Le Mareyeur fish restaurant or La creperie de l’Abbeye for some simple crepes. All the restaurants do however not open until 7pm in the evening and many are closed on Sunday and Monday. We can make reservations for you.


History of Saint Jean d’Angely

The town of Saint Jean d’Angely has had a long and brutal history. The Abbey is the main feature of the town. It was founded in the ninth century to house a relic of Saint John the Baptist, and rebuilt in the 14th, 17th and 18th centuries because of repeated destruction. The Abbey was then abandoned and is now a listed building.


Saint Jean d’Angely is situated on the pilgrim route that led to Santiago de Compostela] the edifice still constitutes a major stopping-off point for pilgrims. Since 1989, the Royal Abbey has housed the Centre of European Culture, which has breathed new life into the Abbey by restoring it as a historical and cultural site and as a place for the exchange of ideas.

For a small town it has a great selection of fun family things to do:

Atlantys swimming pool centre

Again for a small town, we are privileged to have such a great indoor swimming centre. The Atlantys swimming pool center boasts a 25m sports pool, a 5m deep diving pool and most importantly a large kids pool with fountains, hot tub, baby pool and huge slide.


On Saturday mornings (10-12) outside school holidays (so June and September) the pool is exclusively open for the under 4’s, the temperature is turned up, change mats and pottys are supplied by the pool and the pool is filled with balls, floats, mats, climbing frames and all manner of fun stuff for little ones – I went every week with my two when they were toddlers, this is where they learnt to swim at such a young age.

In summer holidays it is open every day. The doors open up into a sunbathing area and play area for the little ones. There’s also a café for snacks.  There’s no time limit on how long you stay. Clean changing rooms, lockers (need a 2€ coin- refunded after) toilets and showers. Be warned – men and boys (even toddlers) MUST wear tight fittening swimwear – no loose swim shorts allowed and this is enforced. Suitable swimwear can be purchased from a vending machine inside but may be cheaper to buy them beforehand.

The Atlantys swimming pool center is just next to the Saint Jean d’Angely park, so you can easily spend the day here.

Saint Jean d’Angely park

located next door to the Atlantys swimming pool center (follow the signs for the hospital and the urgences until you pick up signs for the Base de Loisirs or Plan d’eau (both mean the park) there’s plenty of parking but only one toilet next to the café so go before you walk over to the other side of the park to the play area !


Located on the lake you can hire canoes and pedaloes and it’s linked to the river Boutonne, so you can take your canoe further afield if you wish. There are some (signposted ) lovely walks, there’s a café /restaurant open in summer, a football pitch, ping pong table, mini golf, skateboard parc, childrens play park and rope climbing web. Take a picnic and feed the ducks. It’s a very easy and pleasurable afternoon out.


Saint Jean d’Angely itself

The town itself is a pleasure to walk around with its cobbled streets and medieval buildings. The tour de l’horloge is worth a look – push open the door and climb the steps. (open mid june to mid sept, tues- sun, 10.30-12.30 and 14.30 – 19.00 & FREE !) wander around the old abbey, take a look at the ceiling in the library and the beautiful old herb market too (now the indoor market) On a rainy day maybe pop into the museum des cordeliers which among other things has a fabulous exhibition of the expeditions of Citroen in Africa in the 1920’s (open tues – sun, 10.30 – 12.30 & 13.30 to 18.00 from mid june to mid sept, see web site for openings at other times)


All in all our local town of Saint Jean d’Angely has a wonderful history and although small is a bustling, vibrant town (just don’t go on a Monday when it’s asleep !) and has everything you will need for an enjoyable self catering stay at our family friendly holiday cottages here in the Charente Maritime region of south west France.

Content by Wendy Blakeman




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Coolongalook adventure park, Royan

On Tuesday it was Thomas’ 11th birthday and he requested a day at a climbing adventure park. We have previously been to one at Aytré near La Rochelle but had heard about Coolongalook parc and thought we’d give it a go .

Coolongalook adventure park, Royan

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It’s just under an hours drive to Coolongalook parc from our family holiday cottages here in the Charente Maritime and well worth the trip. We booked in advance as it was recommended but the day we went was very quiet and for the first hour or so we were the only family there which was great !

The main attraction of the park is the climbing. You get fitted into a climbing harness and then given instruction on how the system works.The adult and some of the teen courses are not for the faint hearted, if you don’t like heights it may not be the day out for you.


Koala continuous belay system

At the previous parcs we had been to there was an element of risk with the climbing as you had to hook and un hook the carabinas at various points along each climb and unless you carefully followed the instruction of always being hooked on with at least one at any time there was always the possibililty of being 3m (or more for older kids and adults) above ground and not being hooked onto anything. At Coolongalook parc they have the ‘Koala continuous belay system’ where you hook on at the beginning and cannot remove the hook until you are safely on the ground again – far safer when you have adventurous kids to supervise.

12m above ground

12m above ground

There are 4 childrens courses suitable for those of 4 years and a meter tall (there are also some non harness courses for even littler ones; then another two courses for tweens of 1m30 or above and a further 2 courses for the adults. We had 6 courses of increasing difficulty to choose from having purchased the Junior ticket and Chris and I have to admit the last two were far too challenging for us !! Thomas and Benjamin managed them but at 12m above the ground and freely swinging blocks to cross it was tough going and both physically and mentally challenging – Thomas loved it !!


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There are loads of zip wires included in courses – the final one is 250m long and starts at 13m above the ground. For adults there is also a 15m free fall jump called skyfall (we didn’t do that one !!) included in the adult ticket

We spent around 2hrs30 completing the 6 courses and although you have unlimited time to do them all again we were shattered and ready for an ice cream at the café. The café does only sell ice creams, soft drinks, chocolate bars and crisps though, so take a picnic with you as there’s no where to buy lunch. There are picnic tables located all around the park and it’s a lovely woodland setting.

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  • take a picnic, water and snacks
  •  mossie repellant  is essential
  • go early to avoid the crowds

Laser Battle

The park also has a small area set aside for a laser battle in the woods. We purchased an adventure pass which includes the unlimited climbing, one game of laser battle (20mins) and the ‘man vs wild’ orienteering  course which takes about an hour. Individually we personally did not think the laser battle (10€ pp) and man vs wild course (6€ pp) were worth their individual prices but we were happy with the value for money of the adventure pass which included them.

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For the laser battle you are given a laser gun each and put into teams, you then have 20 mins to shoot each other. It’s a bit hit and miss as the only target that registers is on the gun (unlike indoor laser games where you get a jacket with various targets over the body) Benjamin loved it, Thomas got fed up as it was hard to target people – even still, I came last !

Man vs Wild

At 6€ pp this would be a bit disappointing on it’s own and really should be included when purchasing a climbing pass in our opinion. However we did enjoy it. We were given a list of 12 questions and a compass. We had to pretend we were on a camping trip and various situations arise at each marker which you have to choose the correct response (eg you have very little water left, what do you do a, drink it all at once because you are thirst; b, ration it throughout the day; c, drink only at night ) You mark down your answer then have to use the compass to find the next marker and question.

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We were quite tired and didn’t think we’d actually follow through the whole course but actually it kept our interest as the woodland was quite thick, the trails quite small and climbing over fallen down trees etc made us feel as though we really were in the wild far from anywhere. We finished the whole course and checked our answers at the end (we got over half wrong so probably would of died !!)



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We had a great day out, we survived with a few aching muscles, the kids loved it and we’d highly recommend giving Coolongalook parc , Royan a go. When staying at our family holiday cottages in the Charente Maritime, France we can reserve your place for you. Visit their web site here for full details of opening times and prices. For more information about our child friendly holiday cottages visit our web site here .For more information on all our cottages, gites and villas visit our web site here

Content by Wendy Blakeman



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Fishing with kids at Migré

Fishing with the kids

We just discovered another great place ! One of our families recently asked where he could take his son fishing. They had no rods or tackle and wern’t really into fishing, but fancied having a go. A friend had mentioned a place about 30 mins from our family holiday cottages where you could just go for a full or half day and the river was stocked with trout several times a day – it was pretty much guaranteed you’d catch something ! They hire out the rods and bait so you don’t need expensive equipment so it’s perfect for families with kids who just want to try it out. I got the details and sent them on their way. They came back with 3 trout !

This Sunday I took the boys there to check it out and wasn’t disappointed , we also came back with 3 trout  !


My father loved fishing but rarely had the time but when he fell ill he made time with the boys and they loved helping him tie the flies and land the carp. One of their last memories of him was catching a huge carp together at a local pond a few weeks before he died. They were keen to go fishing again.












Les Sources du Moulin

Les Sources du Moulin is in Migré a 30 minute drive from La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies. There is a restaurant which offers a lunch menu at 12€50 and is reported to be excellent . We took a picnic as did many of the fishermen. In the typical French way, they had sunbeds, chairs, tables, wine and even a fondue in the spot next to us whilst their 5 rods sat waiting for the fish to bite. We had a plastic bag to sit on and a bottle of water.

We had no equipment and had no idea what we were doing but the rods (long bamboo sticks) with line, hook and float were provided for a 10€ deposit; we paid extra for maggots and didn’t pay the fishing fee of 5€ per child until later in the afternoon when the river was re stocked, so we could of fished for free – if we had we wouldn’t of caught anything though ! (not through lack of fish, just lack of expertise – our neighbours despite sleeping off the lunch time wine on their sunbeds seemed to catch plenty !)









We want fish !!

We arrived at 1pm and were told the trout were released at 3pm so we had a 2 hour wait although we remained hopeful of catching something before then – everyone around us seemed to be landing fish (and an eel) every few minutes !  3 o’ clock came and went and despite our neighbours shouting ‘we want the fish’ (in French) he didn’t turn up until 3.20pm (apparently it’s all dependent on how busy the restaurant is that day)

We had to wait until then as everyone was saying how we need to be quick landing the fish and putting new maggots back on the hook – we were getting very excited ! At long last the owner started up his tractor and came along the track, scooping net fulls of trout into the river for each group. We had at least 5 placed right in front of our hooks but they all swam down to the 3m50 depths below and ignored our wriggling maggots.


Nibbles and success at last

However after about 5 minutes Benjamin got a nibble or two, his float went down but he pulled up too quickly (apparently) and the hook was empty of maggots and trout when it surfaced. This happened at least 3 times – we blame the hook, it must of been blunt !! Thomas on the other hand had a sharp hook and he landed a whopper within 10 minutes of the trout being released (this was after 2hrs 30 of sitting on the bank holding a bamboo stick) He was thrilled (of course) and wants to go again (of course !) Benjamins not so keen.


Team ‘fishing’ spirit

It’s very much a team spirit and all the neighbours helped us – we would of been lost without the kind lady next to us removing the hook from the poor fishes mouth or the man on the other side getting the line untangled from the tree branch. It was very much an ‘experience’ for me and fun in an odd kind of way. I doubt any of us will become members of  the Prince Albert fishing club (or its French equivalent) – although I was, as a child thanks to my Dad. We enjoyed the ice creams and will definitely try the restaurant at some point. If we fish again we will go more prepared (something other than a bag to sit on will be a minimum) but we came home with 3 trout on barbecue night and they were delicious (thank you ‘you tube’ for the gutting video )


Three trout – how ?

Well the family next to us caught 19 and felt sorry for the boys, so gave us 2 of theirs so we could come back home and proclaim huge success, they were all delicious. It was fun and a great experience for anyone who’s not fished before. The owner recommended coming in the morning when it’s cooler (it was 34c in the shade that afternoon) and just before the fish are released at 9am….










www.moulindemigre.com ,  20 route du moulin 17330 Migré ,   +33 546240392

Content by Wendy Blakeman


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Laser Lander game in Saintes

There’s nothing worse than going on holiday, particularly abroad and the weather being rubbish. Unfortunately when travelling anywhere in Europe it’s a risk that goes hand in hand with the closeness of the continent to the British Isles.

Our own families philosophy is forget the weather and enjoy being away from life’s routine chores and being together and do what you can to make the holiday enjoyable as it’s a while until the next !

Here in the sunny Charente Maritime region of France we get the second most sunshine hours after the south coast so a rainy week in summer is an exception rather than the rule. We let our families know before their arrival what the weather has been like and what it is forecast to be, so they can be prepared for the worst if necessary.

All our family holiday cottages are supplied with tourist information and also a handy list of rainy day activities. One such fun thing to do is Laser Lander in Saintes, just a 30 minute drive away.

laser2Laser Lander is an ideal indoor activity, perfect for a rainy day or even an incredibly hot day when the kids need to burn off steam but it’s too hot outside.

Yesterday was a cold wet day in February, we had friends over and had planned a fun walk through the local woods but had to change our plans due to the weather as it really was just too wet even for wellies and raincoats so we called up and booked a couple of sessions at Laser Lander.

It’s a great activity for both boys and girls and for ages 6 years and up (younger children may like to play too but the jackets are too big.) It costs (2016) 8€ per player for one session of 20 mins (whether adult or child) , 15€ pp for 2 sessions and 20€ pp for 3 sessions. We have always found 1 session is not enough for our boys, but it’s an active game so it may be for young children. It’s essential to book to make sure you arn’t hanging around waiting for a free session. You need to have about 4 – 6 players as a minimum to make it fun.

Two sessions would take up about an hour with a 5 minute ‘training’ video explaining the safety and game rules, a 20 minute session followed by a 15 minute break where you’ll be able to buy a drink and get your breath back followed by a second 20min session.


We usually extend our afternoon outing by having lunch in the McDonalds opposite beforehand and a play on arcade games located in the waiting area afterwards. (The hurricane tube being a particular favourite) The McDonalds actually has a great play area and when our two were much younger this is all that was required to entertain them on a rainy day – I’d sit down with my laptop (didn’t have a smart phone then) and a drink and the boys would come back to me every so often for a quick drink before running off again. Unfortunately that no longer cuts it with my too so I have to go to a bit more expense and be a bit more active.

If you have never experienced a laser game, it’s great fun. You wear a jacket with a laser gun attached. You have lights or targets on both shoulders, the front and the back. When someone hits one of these targets with their laser you lose 50 points and they gain 100. It is all recorded who hit you and who you hit. You can all play against each other or have teams with different coloured targets (red, blue, yellow etc) Once your session is over each player is given a printout of their position and scores of their hits.

There are two ‘salles’ or rooms at the Saintes Laser Lander and with two sessions you’ll play in each one. It is dark, with music and dry ice. You have two floors and on each one is a maze of passages with gaps in the walls so you have to be careful not to be ‘shot through the walls’

Our kids always come out hot and sweaty and it’s been first choice for their birthday parties for a couple of years now. It’s perfect for wearing them out on a rainy day and highly recommended.

Read about out top ten rainy day things to do here …….

Content by Wendy Blakeman





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Wine tastings at our family holiday cottages

When staying at our family holiday cottages here in the Charente Maritime region of France we can offer exclusive wine tastings and other wine related activities. Professional wine tastings, Family vineyard tours and Taste du terroir social evenings which all add to mum and dads holiday enjoyment.

Our wine tastings and other wine related activities are organised by Chris Blakeman – our very own professional wine expert. He has made his living in the wine industry teaching ‘wine’ to employees, wine tasting as a judge at the international wine challenge and working within the hospitality industry for over 20 years. It is also a passionate hobby and he enjoys sharing his knowledge to all who are interested and dispelling some of the mystery which surrounds wine.


We are ideally situated in France, here in the Charente Maritime, the family holiday cottages are in fact in the heart of the Fin Bois region of Cognac and vines can be found in any direction. Bordeaux and its world famous vineyards are only a 1.5hr drive.


 Professional wine tastings at La Grange du Moulin

wine tasting

Six fine wines will be selected to give a well rounded and enjoyable tasting. The evening is intended to be an informal and friendly chat about wine where you feel at ease and able to ask any questions you wish about wine. Chris will go through in detail how to taste a wine including appearance, nose and taste. You will have the chance to make notes and discuss what you see, smell, think about each wine. No one will be put on the spot and you can say as much or as little as you wish. In all it lasts about 3 hours. Held in our front garden, baby monitors should reach from your cottage.

8 per group, no children. 30 euros per person.


 Family Vineyard walks at La Grange du Moulin


Our family vineyard walks are held each week. We start with a cold glass of Pineau – the local tipple, for the adults and a short chat about this locally made drink. We then take a gentle stroll along the country lanes and tracks towards the vineyards. Stopping regularly along the way, Chris talks about the countryside, its history and uses today, how vines grow and why wine tastes like it does, plus anything else you would like to know. Lasts about 2hrs. Not strenuous, can take prams although a bit bumpy through the vines.

min 4 adults, 8 euros per adult, free for children

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Taste du Terroir evenings at our family holiday cottages

If you can’t make on of our wine tastings we have Taste du Terroir evenings as an alternative (or as well as !) or as an extra social evening. Here we have a selection of local produce, wines and food all sourced from within 20km of our gites and produced by small family owned enterprises. Held early evening and in the garden so the children can play whilst mum and dad enjoy the local delicacies – not a meal, more of an aperitif, very relaxed and informal. You can chat to Chris about the wines and Wendy about the food or just chat to the other guests about anything at all.

min 6 adults, 15 euros per adult

2015-06-17 18.04.43For full details of our family holiday cottages here in the Charente Maritime, France visit our web site www.grangedumoulin.com We have a range of cottages to choose from for all the family or if you prefer we also have several stand alone private villas which would be ideal for a group of adults wanting to enjoy a relaxing wine themed holiday. Find out more at  www.french-gites-and-villas.com

content by Wendy Blakeman


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Fishing holiday in the Charente Maritime, France

charente maritime charentemaritime2




We are located in the beautiful Charente Maritime region of south western France a perfect location for a fishing holiday . There are many fishing opportunities in the area from lake fishing to river fishing and sea fishing on the Atlantic coast just an easy hours drive away from our family holiday cottages.

fishing3 Sea-fishing

Carp fishing is very popular and we are lucky enough to live close to two fishing lakes which offer good value carp fishing.

fishing3There is a good variety of fishing in Charente Maritime region of France. The region’s rivers such as the Boutonne and the Charente have fast and shallow and deep and slow waters with many small tributaries too. There are large and small lakes, both natural and man-made, canals and hundreds of miles of coast for the sea angler.


Fishing in Thors, passes available at the boulangerie in the village. Charente Maritime, France.

The primary rivers are stocked with trout just before the opening of the season in March, so May and June make for the ideal time to visit both for good fishing and
superb weather. The secondary rivers can be fished all year round apart from a few exceptions of fishing restricted fish.

fishing1All the details of which fish and their fishing season if any are given to you when purchasing the essential ‘carte de peche’ of which they have annual cards or a holiday card lasting 7 days. Private lakes often do not require a national licence but will charge their own fee – details will be found on site.


Fishing with the family, we have lots of family friendly holiday accommodation available

Whether enjoying a fishing holiday alone, with friends or with your family we have accommodation to suit your needs and budget. We often have discounted rates in May, June and September and will always discount for singles and couples at those times, We offer full weeks, long lets or short breaks at some of our cottages. All summer from May to the end of September you can bring your family along to one of our family friendly holiday cottages; La Grange du Moulin or Les Vallaies, here in the Charente Maritime region of France and they can play and make new friends whilst you enjoy your fishing just a short drive away. For all our holiday accommodation, please ask for ‘activity’ prices as we are able to offer discounts off the advertised prices for singles and couples and for times when the swimming pool is not available (*May and June at certain properties).

Content by Wendy Blakeman


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Cycling holidays in France

This region is ideal for cycling holidays, the Charente Maritime makes for the perfect base from which to explore this beautiful region of France. With gently rolling countryside, quiet country lanes and tracks and with the respect that the French have for cyclists, this region is ideal for a cycling holiday or just a relaxing holiday with a few afternoons
cycling for fun.

velo_plageThe Charente Maritime region of France has 470 km of bike paths exclusively dedicated to cycling and walking. The routes are designed with great care to ensure high quality rides along the coastline, waterways and on both the mainland and islands of Ile d’Oleron, Ile d’Aix and Ile de Ré. The network is subject to a regular maintenance and monitoring to ensure a trouble free ride.


If you just want an afternoon out on your own, we have a couple of adult bikes you can borrow for free; or bring your own, we have safe areas to store your bikes at all our properties or to take all the stress and hassle out of a cycling holiday in the Charente Maritime in France why not
check out our local bike hire company – Bike hire direct who will deliver and pick up your bikes to our gites and cottages .

bikehireBike hire direct are based in the Charente Maritime region of France and
offer free delivery of your bikes to your cottage, gite or villa. They can provide child seats and tag alongs, locks and helmets and even the car bike rack all at great prices. Go to Bikehiredirect.com to find out more.


There are a series of guidebooks and bike maps are available in tourist offices  Some of these documents also detail the hiking trails accessible by bike (VTC) and also VTC circuits and mountain biking. The
Departmental Committee of Cycling contributes to the implementation of these circuits in the form of organized hikes and
tourism .

P1100351Whether enjoying a cycling holiday alone, with friends or with your family we have accommodation to suit your needs and budget. We often have discounted rates in May, June and September and will always discount for singles and couples, We offer full weeks or short and long breaks at some of our cottages. All summer from May to the end of September you
can bring your family along to one of our family friendly
villas, cottages or gites and they can play and make new friends whilst you enjoy your cycling in the surrounding countryside. For all our accommodation, please ask for ‘activity’ prices as we are able to offer discounts in June and September at certain properties.


content by Wendy Blakeman


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What to see and do in the Charente Maritime

charentemaritime2The Charente Maritime region is famous for its Cognac and Pineau production. There are many tiny villages and hamlets to explore. Quaint chateaux are common. Local delicacies include mussels in cream, goats cheese, honey and cake with angelica. Swimming, fishing, horse riding, golf, tennis and rowing are all available during the summer months in the local area. There are also many lovely country walks all year round. The landscape is gently rolling and ideal for cycling. Below we have listed some of the things there are to see and do for families, for children and for adults. the blue links are to blogs we have written on the subjects to give you more insight.


There’s little need to venture further afield than our local town of St Jean d’Angely, just 10mins away, but if you do there’s a huge range of places to visit and things to do to suit all ages. Details of days out can be found in each of our gites, cottages and villas and you can always ask us too if you run out of ideas.


At La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies we are just an easy 1 hour drive from the coast, beaches and the famous coastal resorts of La Rochelle, Royan and Rochefort. Its also about an hour to the inland towns of Angouleme, Niort and the area around Poitiers, so we are vey centrally located for the whole Charente Maritime Region. Closer to our gites, cottages and villas you will find Cognac, Saintes, St Savinien all within just 30mins drive.

If you would like further details on any of the places listed just ask. We also have many activities going on at some of our holiday cottages. We hold professional wine tastings on a regular basis throughout the summer, every week we have a walk through the vines that the whole family can enjoy. We hold large barbecues, where everyone joins in and for our younger guests we hold teddy bear picnics and pottery painting and even scuba diving at our child friendly properties.

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What to do with Children in the Charente Maritime:

  • Atlantys Swimming Centre in Saint Jean d’Angely – play pool, dive pool, swimming pool, big slide and hot tubs, great fun when its a rainy day or even when it’s too hot.
  • St Savinien – a must for the young ones, ride on the hand made electric boats around the lake
  • Aquarium – in La Rochelle, a great rainy day thing to do but top tip, go early or very late (it’s open until 11pm in summer)

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  • La Palmyre Zoo – the best in Europe, well known for it’s breeding and rescue programme and its interactivity with the animals
  • Futuroscope – perfect for older children, not so worth while for little ones though, a theme park with rides and a vision of the future
  • Fort Boyard – have you seen the programme ? Take a boat trip to view it (can’t go in but a lovely trip all the same)
  • Nautilys Water Park – a great day out for the whole family . Near Angouleme and with indoor and outdoor pools and slides, perfect for all weathers.
  • Donkey Sanctuary – See the famous shaggy haired Poitou Donkey
  • Valley des Singes – Surround yourselves with Monkeys and learn all about them.
  • ViviLnkPaleosite – watch Dad turn into a Neanderthal, learn to make fire and throw a spear
  • Playgrounds – are numerous in the area, St Jean d’Angely has a good one next to the lake so you can feed the ducks too
  • Karting – in St Jean d’Angely for the teenagers
  • Canoeing and Pedaloes – at the local loisier near the play park in Saint Jean d’Angely


  • Chateau Branch or Acrobranch – tree top adventures for all levels of ability
  • Chateau des Enigmas – maze and quiz
  • Noahs ark – run by the world parrot trust
  • Puy du Fou – amazing – what can I say ! A couple of hours drive from us but perhaps worth stopping over on the way down or back home. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else.
  • European zoo – at Chize for a quieter and closer zoo visit than the one at La Palmyre. European animals. Well laid out.
  • Iles aux serpents – discover reptiles
  • Comic Museum and Chocolate factory in Angouleme

For all the Family in the Charente Maritime

  • Markets – Thrice weekly in St Jean d’Angely
  • Beaches – From La Rochelle down to Royan
  • La Rochelle – for its shopping and amazing aquarium
  • Cognac – with its world famous distillery tours


  • Saintes – a beautiful Roman town with a fantastic ampitheatre
  • Poitiers – with the superb ‘Futuroscope’ park
  • Bordeaux – and its world famous vineyards, beautiful city
  • Angouleme – has a great water park, museums and shopping
  • Niort – for its history and shopping
  • Rochefort – with the Hermione reconstruction and corderie royal


  • Royan – with its European awarded animal park.
  • St Jean D’Angely – our local town, shops, markets, park and tourist office
  • Venis Verte – hire a boat and explore the waterways on a canoe or hire a guide
  • Glassworks – in Cognac
  • Cafes, bars and restaurants – in St Jean d’Angely and all the local towns

What to do in the Charente Maritime for Adults:

  • All the above of course plus
  • Golfing – there a number of golf courses within an easy drive
  • Fishing – from river and lake to fishing in the sea. Passes/permits readily available


  • Concerts – are regularly held throughout the summer season, Cognac Blues and Francofolies in La Rochelle are two of the bigger ones but our local town of St Jean d’Angely regularly holds open air concerts and shows.
  • Scuba Diving – we regularly have discover scuba sessions for children but adults are welcome to join in or if you prefer we can organise private sessions and courses.


So as you can see the Charente Maritime has a host of fabulous things to do and see and to keep you entertained on your family holiday to France

Content by Wendy Blakeman


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Reviews and whats new

It’s been a while since I posted anything , it’s been a hectic summer and I didn’t quite manage posting a blog a week as I said I would in my new year resolution so to get 2016 off with a swing I thought I’d finish off 2015 showing you why we have been so busy and shall just add a few of the wonderful reviews we received through the season in 2015.

Firstly we have very exciting news that our HOT TUB is now delivered and up and running. It has to be tested of course so this task fell down to us yesterday.

HottubIt’s located in a decked area near the wifi area, overlooking (but separate to) the pool area. Open to the night sky we anticipate it will be a popular feature with the Mums and Dads staying in our family friendly holiday cottages here in the Charente Maritime region of France; once the little ones are asleep you’ll be able to slip into your swimmers, take your baby monitor (and some wine !) with you and enjoy some couple time watching the stars .  time watching the stars .

deck2Chris has fully decked the area and it is enclosed with fencing and a gate with child safety latch. Children will be allowed to use the hot tub too during the day but only when an adult is in the tub with them. It has some great jets for a good massage and has lovely lights for night time which fade through different colours.


We have also had the main heated swimming pool renovated. For the last 20 years it has been a tiled pool, very hard wearing and pretty too with dolphin mosaics but it had come to the end of it’s life. We have chosen a new product called armoured pvc , a product used in public pools throughout France. It looks very different from before being all one colour (and no dolphins) but looks great.

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We will be busy throughout the winter painting and decorating as always but now our main projects for the gites are complete we now have another small job to complete – the building of an extension to our house ! The boys are getting bigger (Benjamin will be 13 and Thomas will be 11 in 2016) so we need a bit more space. We love living here and of course our livelihood is here so we couldn’t move even if we wanted too ! Chris is laying blocks as I type, fingers crossed the weather stays good for us.

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And now to a review of 2015. We had another great year, particularly good since many holiday cottage owners in the area suffered a big downturn in bookings. September was a little quieter than normal but June, July and August saw lots of familiar faces and lots of new families too. We had some excellent weather and received lots of wonderful reviews, here are just a few but you can find lots more on our web site, just click on the link at the top of the page.

Ings family review of La Grange du Moulin, September 2015

Fleurie holiday cottage, child aged 2 years

We had a fantastic holiday, our daughter thoroughly enjoyed her safe surroundings in which she could explore and play. The cottage was well equipped and had everything we needed. We enjoyed many fun days out, especially the zoo but still enjoyed our afternoons and evenings in our accommodation. We met some lovely families and it was very social, we particularly enjoyed the communal barbecue evening. They have plenty of other activities for the kids to enjoy too. One week was not long enough ! Thank you very much Chris and Wendy.

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Kirkpatrick family review of La Grange du Moulin, September 2015

Ruche holiday cottage, children aged 3 and 1 year

Thank you – so friendly and welcoming and helpful. So safe for the kids – great that they could explore and play and we could relax. Trampoline and all the toys in the gite a real hit too. Beautiful spot – so quiet ! Really enjoyed the vineyard walk and fabric painting/teddy bear picnic.

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Hamilton family review of La Grange du Moulin, Peche holiday cottage,

August 2015, children aged 6 and 2 years

Our sixth year back here at La Grange du Moulin – says it all ! We have enjoyed trips out to the beach, La Rochelle and Cognac as well as the many on-site activities provided for the children including pottery painting, t-shirt painting and scuba diving. The hospitality and attention to details that Chris and Wendy provide are what makes this holiday stand out – and why we will be back again next year ! A great time had by all the family, thank you Chris and Wendy.

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Cope family review of La Grange du Moulin, July 2015,

Horloge holiday cottage, children aged 4 and 1 yr

What an amazing place. We’ve had a wonderful weeks stay here at La Grange du Moulin and have loved seeing our children make friends and play safely right outside our gite whilst we relaxed and enjoyed the local Pineau ! In the words of our 4 yr old ”its much better than the last place we stayed because I can just go outside and theres a pool and a trampoline and a pirate ship AND a sandpit !” Even our 1 yr old has been exploring on her own (under supervision !!) more than ever – so much so she took her first steps 🙂 Thank you Wendy and Chris for creating such a wonderful place to holiday with children.


Kenyon family review of La Grange du Moulin, August 2015,

Horloge holiday cottage, children aged 5 and 2 yrs

A very happy couple of weeks. As a city family, it took us a while to get used to the open fields and quiet, but the amazing night sky (and excellent local wine) helped us adjust. The gites are comfortable, well equipped and both shared and private outdoor space. The stand out feature of the gites is the amazing facilities for young children. Our two loved it and after 2 days would disappear out of the door every morning to play with their new friends. We enjoyed some proper ‘couple’ time while they played knowing they were safe and us enjoying the peace !

And here are a few of the families that joined us in 2015 at our

family holiday cottages – L Grange du Moulin

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Content by Wendy Blakeman



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