Restaurants

We love our food and wine and love to eat out. We are very lucky to have some excellent restaurants in the area, some we regularly visit, some are for really special occasions and others have been recommended by families who have stayed with us at our family holiday cottages here in the Charente Maritime region of France.

Restaurants for a special occasion

Le Scorlion restaurant, Saint Jean d’Angely

Le Scorlion is a superb restaurant located in the centre of Saint Jean d’Angely and overlooking the Abbey cloisters. Perfect for an intimate dinner for two. Excellent service, delicious food and superb price. Listed in the Michelin guide. Well worth asking me to babysit so you can have a grown up meal out one evening whilst staying with us.

menus from 27€ to 40€

Read more about Le Scorlion restaurant here…..

La Goule Beneze restaurant, Saint Jean d’Angely

 

 

 

 

Located just on the edge of Saint Jean d’Angely, La Goule Beneze is a small family run hotel and restaurant. Subsequently it offers a superb childrens menu and there may be families present who are staying in the hotel; however it still offers a grown up atmosphere with linen tablecloths and lovely table settings, so worth a special occasion.

The couple have travelled extensively and speak excellent English if you are struggling with the menu. The menu itself is well thought out, changes regularly with the season and has unusual flavours mixed with classic dishes.

menus from 26€ to 40€

childrens menu

Read more about La Goule Beneze restaurant here….

Les Pigeons Blancs restaurant, Cognac

Located on the edge of Cognac in beautiful grounds, Les Pigeons Blancs restaurant offers a lovely setting for a sunny outdoor meal or an intimate evening meal inside. The cheese platter is fantastic and you have to choose a minimum of 3 desserts – so make sure you are hungry !

menus from 27€ to 60€

childrens menu

Read more about Les Pigeons Blancs restauarant here…..

Christopher Coutanceau, La Rochelle

With 2 michelin stars, this is one for a very special occasion. I’d say it would be difficult to find a restaurant in the UK of such a high standard at such a reasonable price and pretty much impossible to find one with a high chair !

Located overlooking the beach in La Rochelle and at the entrance to the port area, you can watch the yachts sale in and out of the harbour whilst enjoying a superb meal.

Businessmen and woman frequent this establishment to impress their clients but we have eaten here with the children (because they love their food as much as we do !) and they are treated with the same respect as everyone (but they are very well behaved of course !)

menus from 68€ to 230€

Read more about Coutanceau restaurant here ….

Restaurants for all the family

The closest restaurants to our family holiday cottages can all be found just a short drive away (10mins) in Saint Jean d’Angely. All our local restaurants welcome families with well behaved children. All the following restaurants have a childrens menu.

Le Petit Bouchon restaurant, Saint Jean d’Angely

Le Petit Bouchon restauarant is located in the centre of our local town, Saint Jean d’Angely, just next to the indoor market ; so the perfect spot to eat after an hour or so browsing the market stalls on Wednesday and Saturday market days.

 

 

We have so far never eaten there but many of our guests have. One said he always eats there as it’s the best steak he’s ever eaten – quite an accolade. It has good reviews on Trip advisor

Le Cabanon restaurant, Saint Jean d’Angely

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We have eaten here at lunch and dinner and also for a coffee in the morning. The great thing about this restaurant is it’s open on Monday evenings when everything else is closed ! Plus it’s open all day for coffee. We experienced great service (as do most of their clients according to the excellent reviews on Trip advisor )

Le Moulin de la Baine restaurant, Chaniers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This has been a favourite of ours for many years. Set in a Colbert appointed water mill over the river Charente it provides a stunning setting for a long lunch on sunny Sunday afternoons. We often go for birthday celebrations with the whole family as the service is always excellent as the staff are used to waiting on large groups.

The restaurant is teemed with the Bernard Palissy boat which offers a mini cruise down the Charente river from Saintes ending at Le Moulin de la baine for a set menu and return trip from Tuesday to Sundays. Their speciality is a huge baked alaska, sometimes requiring several staff to carry it in for large groups.

They welcome families and children too and have a pleasant childrens menu. When they were very young we used to take it in turns between courses to take them exploring beneath the bridge through the tunnels where the river water rushes through – they loved it and it kept them happy during a long grown up lunch on sunny afternoons.

It is also lovely to walk over the bridge to the island where the canal meets the river and you can watch barges negotiating the lock.

Visit their web site here

Batia restaurant, Saintes

Located on a boat moored on the river in Saintes the Batia restaurant has a superb location. The menu is upmarket burgers and steak frites plus a few other more refined dishes. Nice ambience, especially on deck on a sunny day and it’s nicely decorated.

 

 

 

When we ate here the service was very slow but trip advisor reviews vary from excellent to awful so it obviously varies

Menus from 15€ to 27€

childrens menu

Visit their web site here

Saint Jean d’Angely restaurants

Saint Jean d’Angely only has a population of around 7000, the size of some villages in the UK; yet it boasts 3 large supermarkets and numerous smaller ones, an A&E unit/hospital a thrice weekly market and numerous bars and restaurants. Here’s a selection of the main ones.

Hotel Restaurant de la Place restaurant, Saint Jean d’Angely

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located on the central place near the Maire. Good for an evening out ‘sans enfants’ . it is a hotel restaurant so will have families staying in the holidays but the restaurant is stylish and has large picture windows looking out onto the central square (although this is a car park)  With crisp linen tablecloths and a quiet atmosphere it is ideal for an intimate meal out. We ate here years ago before we had the children and really must go back as it has great trip advisor reviews

menus 25€ – 35€

childrens menu

Les Jacobins restaurant, Saint Jean d’Angely

 

 

 

 

 

This is a pizzeria restaurant serving wood fired pizzas for takeaway as well as to eat in but it also offers some great down to earth Italien and  French basics like steak frites, spaghetti bolognaise, confit de canard and carbonara. Perfect for a relaxed meal out with the children. It has a good sized inside restaurant plus a smaller outdoor terrace.

A la carte menu, pizzas around 8-10€; pastas around 8€

childrens menu

Le Mareyeur restaurant, Saint Jean d’Angely

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le Mareyeur restaurant is principally a fish / seafood restaurant but with a couple of meat dishes thrown in . Not eaten here yet but has good trip advisor reviews and several of our families have had very enjoyable meals here so looks like it’s on our list to try out. Located on the furthest square from the centre but still only a few minutes walk from wherever you park in town. Has a nice terrace to the front for summer evenings.

menus 15€ to 30€

La Creperie de l’Abbeye and L’ancre Marine restaurants, Saint Jean d’Angely

La creperie de l’Abbeye and L’ancre marine are both creperies. Not my idea of a ‘meal’ but obviously very popular in this town. Great for a simple lunch maybe after the market.

Carottes et Gingembre vegetarian restaurant, Saint Jean d’Angely

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carottes et Gingembre (Carotts and ginger) is a vegetarian restaurant which is quite a novel thing in rural France so is subsequently quite popular. It also has vegan and gluten free options. It’s number two on trip advisor after Le Scorlion. Find out more on their web site here

menus 15 – 20€

These are just a selection of the main restaurants found around our family friendly holiday accommodation here in the Charente Maritime region of South West France.

Most families who stay with us tend to have lunches out when they are sightseeing then come back to the cottages and light up the barbecue or have a simple alfresco meal of fresh crusty bread, patés, cold meats and salads together with a crisp chilled glass of wine whilst sat watching the sun go down on their terrace. Occasionally they’ll have an intimate meal out one evening whilst I look after their children in their cottage or pop out with the kids to one of the bistros in Saint Jean d’Angely I’ve mentioned above. I’d love to receive comments from families who’ve stayed with us on how they enjoyed any of these restaurants . Thank you.

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)

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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 !

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 !

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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.

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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)

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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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Le Scorlion restaurant, Saint Jean d’Angely

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We have been frequenting the Le Scorlion restaurant in Saint Jean d’Angely for 20 years and have enjoyed the food there from all the three restauranteurs that have owned it during that time. We are incredibly lucky to have such a top class restaurant in our little town of St Jean with it’s population of just 8000 people.

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Thomas and Claire Routhieau

Le Scorlion and it’s present owners Thomas and Claire Routhieau are really pulling out all the stops to really put the restaurant on the map. Having travelled all over the world and working at the Georges V in Paris no less, Thomas is putting all his experience into his menu and dishes and it really shows. The food is becoming more and more refined and has this year been awarded the new ‘ l’assiette Michelin’ for recognition of a really good quality meal.  The restaurant also has two knives and forks which recognises ‘good quality’ in terms of the restaurant itself – table setting, greeting, service etc

Worth a babysitter

We always recommend this restaurant to our families staying with us in our family holiday cottages here in the Charente Maritime. It provides a lovely grown up ambience all year and in summer has a delightful wooden deck terrace at the front, inside the old Abbey cloisters – perfect for a warm summer evening. If our families ask for a recommendation we generally send them here as the quality of the meal is worth paying the babysitter (me !)

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Recent visit

We ate here quite recently with the boys and had a lovely Sunday lunch. It was very busy with both the terrace and inside full so it’s important to make a reservation (we will do this for you when staying with us)  We all chose the Menu Gourmand at 39€ (there’s no childrens menu and our two wouldn’t choose it if there were !) which includes ‘La Surprise’ if you are adventurous – which we are and it was a delicious piece of …………. (shan’t spoil the surprise) They will suggest a wine to accompany the surprise if you ask.

Amuse Bouches

We love restaurants where they bring you the bite sized hors d’oeuvres and we always get at least two at Le Scorlion. It makes you feel like you are getting really good value for money ! They change regularly so it’s always a treat as you never know what they’ll be.

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The Menu

Thomas has three menus: menu de l’abbaye at 26€; menu Gourmand at 39€ and their mid week lunch menu is just 16€50 plus their occasional brunch menu individually priced dishes such as eggs benedict, pancakes, grilled fish with potatoes, ceasar salad with confit of duck and a variety of desserts

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The future

We’d love to see some home made rolls of different flavours – walnut and fig for example and butters to go with them as we have experienced at some Michelin starred restaurants and a dedicated wine waiter too.

We love their themed nights with Jazz and their regular brunches where they offer a completely different menu and hope those continue.

Content by Wendy Blakeman

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K-bane restaurant – seafood lovers heaven, Ile d’Oleron

Leave early !!

We rarely have the time to visit the coast in summer but since last weekend was our wedding anniversary , Chris fancied some Gillardeau oysters so we cleared our schedules for the Sunday and headed out for the Ile d’Oleron where Gillardeau has its oyster beds, shop and 24hr oyster vending machine !

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We had planned to spend an hour or so on the beach before some lunch and before it got too busy but unfortunately we didn’t get going until 11am and should of known better We ended up in a 40 minute traffic jam – at this time of year the coast is a nightmare and we vowed never to attempt the journey again so ‘late’ in the day ! Top tip for summer excursions to the coast LEAVE EARLY !!

K-Bane restaurant

By the time we escaped the jam it was lunchtime. We had heard of a seafood place just after the bridge that is famous for it’s mussels ‘eglade’ (or eclade as it’s known on the mainland) Jean – Patrick, the owner and ‘ostréiculteur’ (oyster harvester) has been selling his oysters to the Paris restaurants for 20 years but wanted to get back to his roots and conserve his links to his original customers on the Island so opened a restaurant in a cabin just across the Ile d’Oleron bridge and next to his oyster beds; the  ‘K-bane’ seafood restaurant was born.

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Eglade or Eclade ?

The Ile d’Oleron is also famous for it’s mussels as well as it’s oysters and a well known Oleron recipe is the ‘Eglade’ . This consists of a tray of mussels standing upright and covered with pine needles from the many pine forests on the island. These are then set alight and the mussels are cooked in the heat and take on a smokey flavour. It’s quite a spectacle to watch and the preparation for each plate takes around half an hour so must be ordered in advance. We were a little confused at first as to the correct name as we had seen signs for both Eclade and Eglade – was it two different recipes ? Apparently not – Eglade is the ‘correct’ name originating on the Ile d’Oleron; Eclade is what the ‘mainlanders’ call it !

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The restaurant is a seafood lovers heaven – it’s for purists – nothing other than oysters, mussels, crab, lobster, bulot, langoustine and prawns on the menu. All dishes are served with sauteed potatoes and the desserts are simple (ice cream, galette charentaise and iles flottantes) We had hoped to try the famous Eglade but the dish has to be ordered in advance, so we had to content ourselves with oysters, fish soup, moules marinier and lobster !

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We had a delicious meal and thought the quality, freshness and value were all excellent, we’d highly recommend the K-bane and will definitely be returning.

That day was quite an oyster fest as on the return we picked up the Gillardeau oysters we had come for and enjoyed those with a few bottles of delicious white wine back at home.

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The service at K-bane was excellent, very friendly and efficient too. The restaurant is open from Easter to the end of September. Full details and opening times can be on their web site  here .When staying at any of our family holiday cottages here in the Charente Maritime we can organise the Eglade experience for you. We shall definitely be going again, but this time we shall leave much earlier to avoid the traffic and also we shall reserve our ‘Eglade’.

For details of all our properties here in the Charente Maritime region of south west France visit us at www.french-gites-and-villas.com

Content by Wendy Blakeman

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Aquarium in La Rochelle

aquariumDuring the holidays my sister and family came to stay with us. The weather here in France has been absolutely beautiful for months, clear blue skies and mild temperatures so we had a day trip to the coast and the aquarium at La Rochelle our county town here in the Charente Maritime.

The aquarium in La Rochelle has been a regular place for us to visit over the years with the children, ever since they were really little, it has been a firm favourite ever since and often the choice for a birthday treat. It is also one of our top ten recommended places to visit for our families who stay in our holiday accommodation during the summer months, tying it in with a stroll around this famous French city and a delicious seafood meal.

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We booked our tickets online as there is a slight reduction in the price and on very busy days (and it can get really busy during the summer) this avoids the need to queue, so definitely worth doing. Here at La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies We are happy to print your tickets for you but you can access the confirmation bar code on your phone too.

Our visit was in the morning, at this time of year it opens at 10am and is not too busy; in summer you really need to get there before it opens as the queues can extend out of the building and down the street if you arrive later – to be honest, if this happens it really isn’t worth queuing as it will be so busy inside you’ll have difficulty viewing everything and its no fun for anyone – far better to go for lunch, visit the town then go back in the afternoon or evening when it will be much quieter. In July and August it’s open until 11pm !

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The visit starts with a descent to the depths of the ocean (in the lift); when our two were very young (1 and 3yrs) this bit scared them as the ‘submarine’ lift shakes a bit and the ‘windows’ show the water level rising. So hold onto the little ones. The doors open into an underwater tunnel filled with jelly fish – water surrounds you, below your feet and above your head it’s a lovely start to the ‘tour’ .

The direction of the visit is well signposted and the different areas well laid out, so although you can wander freely and view as much or as little as you want, following the route means you’ll see everything on offer. The visit around La Rochelle aquarium is split into five main areas: The Atlantic coast; Mediterranean; Caribbean; Indo Pacific and Tropical rain forest.

aquarium-220x162Many of the tanks reach down to the ground, so ideal for younger children . There is lots of information about all the fish and sea creatures and their habitats if you have time to read everything but we found the most popular thing with the children is just being able to run around freely.

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There is a lovely childrens tunnel that takes them behind a huge tank so you can take a photo of them from the other side pretending to be a fish; or the interactive projection on the carpet is another firm favourite where they can try and chase the ‘fish’. We also enjoy sitting on the benches in front of the shark tank just watching these magnificent fish gliding by.

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The final tropical area is also popular with our kids as although there arn’t many fish (a piranha tank with a big warning sign not to put your hands in !!) the wobbling rope bridge to access it is fun, as are the bamboo tubes with different tropical smells to guess. There is an audio guide designed for children aged 4 to 10 years and an app you can download before your visit to get them excited about it and prepare them for the experience.

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Practically wise there is good disabled access and lots of toilets along the route (always a necessity with young children) Lighting is quite low so at busy times you’ll need to keep a good hold of little children so you don’t lose them – we’d always recommend visiting the aquarium at quiet times if at all possible with young children and toddlers as it is far more fun if they can run around discovering things for themselves.

At the end of the tour there is the ubiquitous gift shop – we always know when our families have been when they return with cuddly Nemos and sharks ! On previous visits we have eaten lunch in La Rochelle at one of the many seafood restaurants on the port (usually Andrés) but this time because it was already quite late for lunch we decided upon the aquarium restaurant /café .

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This was a really pleasant surprise. It has stunning views across the port, is light with windows all around and the service was excellent. The choice of food was very good, several fish dishes and steak too. All simply but well presented, even the childrens steak haché frites (burger and chips) was served with wrapped green beans and the chips were homemade. Very reasonably priced, particularly considering the location – take the boat taxi across the port and you’ll be paying twice as much. Highly recommended.

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A superb day out when staying at our family friendly holiday cottages in the Charente Maritime in France.

content by Wendy Blakeman

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Aulnay market

2015-07-05 11.20.49  The Sunday morning market in Aulnay de Saintonge in the Charente Maritime department of SW France has been a regular haunt of ours over our 20 years of living here and it’s still as popular as ever.

This bar/restaurant ‘Le Colombier’ on the market square is where we sit and enjoy a drink and watch the world go by both on a hot summers day and a cold crisp sunny day in mid winter. The first time we went we asked for a croissant (or three) to dip in out hot chocolate, as all good French people do. To our surprise they did not (and still don’t) serve croissant and suggested we pop over to the boulangerie on the other side of the square to purchase some – which of course we did and still do.

The market itself is quite small – I often tell guests they could hold their breath walking around it ! Its not quite accurate but it isn’t a huge market – but it’s quality not quantity that matters and in this delightful small market town you can purchase anything from a mattress to mussels, or fennel to flowers.

2015-07-05 11.50.19 Over the years a number of British ex pats have started up businesses here, you can buy English books from Bens book store to beautiful hand painted cards from Angela Berry designs; even the famous ‘Popsy’ started out here selling takeaway Indian – she now has a thriving restaurant in St Jean d’Angely with a good mix of both British and French clientele.

The Brits have not in anyway taken away from the French nature of the market at all, there is still a majority of very French owned stalls selling oysters and octopus; garlic and grillon, saucisse and snails.

 

The flower stall is one of our favourites and you’ll always be faced with a long queue to purchase a beautiful bouquet for an amazingly low price, the owner does the Saturday morning market in Saint Jean d’Angely too. Just ask him to make up a bouquet for 20€ and you’ll be amazed at what you get.

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The flower stall is one of our favourites at the Aulnay de Saintonge Sunday market

This is also the place to purchase your Sunday ‘fruit de mer’ platter, choose from an array of delicious seafood, fresh fish, oysters and mussels.

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An ideal Sunday morning outing when staying at our family friendly holiday cottages La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies here in the Charente Maritime, France. Then why not have a leisurely lunch at your holiday cottage with all the delicious charcuterie, fresh salads and seafood you have purchased before heading over to St Savinien ‘port miniature’ – an absolute must for families with young children.

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content by Wendy Blakeman   wendy@childfriendlygites.com

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les Pigeons Blancs – restaurant Cognac

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Today we were celebrating a friends birthday and decided to try a new restaurant – well new to us any way, the restaurant and hotel have been in existence since 1973 but we have only just got around to going and we are so glad we did.

Les Pigeons Blancs is set on the edge of the town of Cognac (of the drink fame) which is an easy 20-30 min drive from our family holiday cottages here in the Charente Maritime region of France. The hotel has been home to the Tachet family since the 17th century and has been a ‘relais de poste’ since Francois 1st. Family member, Jaques Tachet is the chef.

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It is set in beautiful gardens filled with oak and walnut trees, rose bushes and well manicured lawns. We visited on a perfect day, the sun was shining, the temperature a very pleasant 28c with a gentle breeze – perfect for a long lazy birthday lunch.

We chose the 5 course degustation menu at 59€ a head with one of us choosing a supplement of 16€ for the lobster – the menu was excellent value but the lobster supplement was not, it was a very small lobster dish and not worth the extra 16€ on top when the perfectly cooked sea bass alternative was included in the menu. We had a foie gras starter, the fish course, then duck, cheese and dessert.

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It was a refreshing change to find the cheese course included as so menu restaurants these days seem to be offering it as a supplement.

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We also had a childrens menu (19€) which was a delicately cooked piece of salmon served with risotto followed by a choice of desserts from the dessert trolley – we always think its a sign of a very good restaurant when they offer a grown up childrens menu which any adult would be happy to eat.

The dessert trolley was fab – we were told by Jean-Michel that we had to choose a MINIMUM of 3 desserts so here is our youngest with his strawberry creme brulee, raspberry charlotte and coffee meringue !

 

One of our party also chose the 38€ ‘le nez du marché’ menu which is described as  1/3 of fresh produce, – 1/3 of Skill, – 1/3 of Friendship … Jean- Michel describes the options in detail and it is all the more charming and feels more ‘spontaneous’ than being written on a board. Catherine and Jean – Michel are so relaxed and friendly, you feel very welcome; despite it being a ‘gastronomic restaurant’ there is no stuffiness; we had a very relaxing and enjoyable meal.

Since we welcome families with children, toddlers and babies to our holiday cottages here in France it would not make sense to simply go for a gastronomic meal and then go straight ‘home’ again so we recommend working off some of those desserts with a walk around the André Mermet park, just a couple of km away from the Pigeons Blancs restaurant. Its a bit far to walk with young children although you could take the river bank walk with a buggy which would be beautiful on a sunny day (we were lazy and took the car !)

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Being a very sunny Sunday the park was very busy, filled with families barbecuing, picniking and  eating in the onsite café/bar . There are bouncy castles (optional extra fee)

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a play park, petanque court, huge sandpit, football ground, zip wire, lots of trees, park benches and tables and lots of space to run around and work off that lunch

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all set on the edge of the Charente river where you can hire pedaloes and canoes, go swimming or go for a walk

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All in all a lovely family day out, you could really make a full day out by visiting one of the many Cognac houses in the morning before lunch !

For full details of all our family holiday cottages in the Charente Maritime department of France visit our web site 

Content by Wendy Blakeman

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La Goule Beneze restaurant, Saint Jean d’Angely

Chris and I love eating out and since having our boys we have a goal of taking them to a
Michelin starred restaurant preferably before they reach adulthood (and for them to enjoy it !) To reach this goal takes time and training, at 9 and 6 they still arn’t quite ready – the only
reason being we don’t think they would quite appreciate the food just yet; still we arn’t far off.

We spent an absolutely wonderful evening at La Goule Beneze last summer with our two boys, Benjamin then 8 and Thomas then just 5 years old. It was our 18th wedding anniversary and we couldn’t think of anything more lovely than having a very grown up meal with our two beautiful boys. They enjoyed ‘dressing up’ in their ‘party shirts’ and Daddys aftershave and Cathy and Dominique, owners of La Goule Beneze hotel and restaurant welcomed us as always with their warm smiles.

The boys were on their best behaviour and were full of grown up conversation, it was a
wonderful reward for the years of ‘training’ and occasional embarrassing meltdowns we have had in getting our boys to enjoy and appreciate as much as we do, eating out in great
restaurants.

La Goule Beneze is a small family owned restaurant and hotel on the edge of St Jean
d’Angely, so just a 10 minute drive from our child friendly holiday accommodation/ gites .

Being an hotel  it is obliged to offer a childrens menu yet the owners have excelled themselves and offer a superb ‘grown up’ menu of paté or crudites to start followed by fresh fish in a delicious sauce or homemade meat patty and tiny vegetables turned to perfection all in child sized portions followed of course by a delicious dessert and all at an excellent price (7€50).

The adult menu is delicious too. There are a variety of different set price ‘menus’ to choose from starting at 16€50 and rising to 36€50 and the a la carte too but as always in French restaurants the ‘menus’ offer the best value. We have eaten at this restaurant many times and both the service and food have never been less than exceptional and their pear profiteroles in butterscotch sauce is to die for !

sl_08-600x253The restaurant is small and intimate; crisp white linen table clothes, crystal glasses and soft music may not be everyones idea of a child friendly restaurant but I can guarantee Cathy and Dominique will welcome you and your children with a warm friendly smile which makes it one of our personal favourites for a ‘grown up’ meal both with and without our boys.

content by Wendy Blakeman

 

 

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Andrés restaurant, La Rochelle

Andrés in La Rochelle is by far and away our most favourite restaurant
in the Charente Maritime. Found at the entrance to the old port, it is
easy to find and is the centre of all the best restaurants in La Rochelle –
our theory is the andres2-218x223further away from this point you get along the harbour, the further you get away from top class seafood ! If you want moules
frites then feel free to choose anyone of the hundreds of seasonal restaurants that pop up as soon as the sun starts to shine, but if like
us you love seafood and want top quality and freshness served with professional and friendly staff then Andrés is a great choice for all the family.

t is set on a pedestrianised cobbled square centred on a large anchor (which the children love to play on inbetween courses) We love
to sit on the terrace in summer and watch the world go by as we tuck into our Gillardeau oysters (grown just down the road and
considered the best in the world )

There is a very relaxed atmosphere, high noise levels and informal table settings. High chairs can be provided and we have always
found the staff to be extremely friendly and welcoming towards our children (and we have been taking them since they were born) Our
boys particularly enjoy the ‘space dust’ sprinkled on the ice cream which pops in their mouths.

Considering the location we have always found it excellent value. You are of course sitting in a central position in the third most visited cities in France with over 3 million visitors each year – so yes – you will pay a bit more for the location than sitting in a back street café. However they do a superb three course 18€ lunch menu which is delicious and excellent value. What we love most, apart from the food and location is they do a delicious ‘grown up’ childrens menu which incorporates a beautifully cooked piece of fish in a divine butter sauce and they will bring crayons and colouring pages for the little ones and also (if you sit inside) sit you next to the live lobster tank which will help keep the little ones amused whilst you dig into your own cooked lobster or crab !

Apart from the superb ‘fruits de mer’ platters and world renowned Gillardeau oysters they also do an amazing fish soup which is a complete meal in itself being served with the traditional croutons, grated cheese and rouille (named for it’s ‘rust’ colour) a spicy (chilli)
garlic sauce that gives a great kick to the already hot and tasty soup – perfect for a winters day or a meal in itself if you don’t have time for more courses and at just 9€50 for a massive tureen full – can’t be beat for value. Long tables, great for family meals, bustling and good noise levels (so no one hears when the toddlers shout a bit too loudly !
anchor-275x215We always recommend a full day out to take in the sights of La Rochelle. With an early start, visit the aquarium first to miss the queues in summer then take the electric boat taxi over the harbour (fun for the kids and costs about 70cents for adults) which drops you off right at the tour de la chaine next to Andrés. Enjoy a delicious seafood meal – taking it in turns between courses to let the children play on the anchor then stroll along the promenade under the trees and browse the market stalls and watch the street entertainers making your way through the town. In the heat of the sun you can walk protected by the ancient overhanging buildings (good if it rains too !) window shopping (or buying !) in the hundreds of independent stores.

After your stroll around the shops, having walked off your lunch then you
must stop at Ernests le glacier – homemade ice creams and sorbets in
every imaginable flavour – choose just a cone or a bucket full, the kids
won’t forgive you if you don’t !
To make it a full day out (and perhaps to kill two birds…) you can then take
a walk along the city walls to the town beach. Always bustling and with
several cafés from which to enjoy an afternoon coffee, the children will get
a few hours playing in the sand and jumping the wave if the tide is in (if
not they can hunt for crabs and tiddlers in the rock pools) whilst you sit
and sun yourself gazing at the boats sailing in and out of the harbour.

A perfect day

content by Wendy Blakeman

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