What to see and do in the Charente Maritime

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.

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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.

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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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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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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Chris, Wendy, Benjamin and Thomas

The Blakeman family

Chris and I met as teenagers in 1983 and have been together ever since, in 1993 we married and in 1996 we moved to France. The move wasn’t hard. Although originally from Cheshire, we moved south in ’91 (Tunbridge Wells) and Chris was commuting often to London, we both worked weekends and evenings and long hours; so when the opportunity to move to France came along we jumped at it. Two children and 20 years later we are still loving it here .

Chris and Wendy Blakeman

Then

Chris and Wendy Blakeman

Now

20 years in France

After many years of holidaying in this area, staying in my parents holiday home, we finally moved here . We havn’t looked back since. After a number of years renovating stone barns into family gites, learning how to look after our guests and drinking many glasses of wine with them, we now feel very confident in our ability to offer just what young families like our own really need from a holiday here in France.

We have not, however, become complacent. We are constantly thinking of new ideas to add to the enjoyment, every year we update, replace, renew and re- paint as well as add. Our cottages today are very different from what they were when we first started out. In 1996, the most common question was ‘is there an iron and a tea pot’. Times are different and expectations are higher. (wifi, hot tub)

For more about how we came to be here and our last 20 years…..

Benjamin and Thomas

Benjamin (born March 2003) and Thomas (born August 2005) are our two boys and they love the summer when they have new playmates every week and although they are now getting a bit older than the average child, they are still great with the little ones – having grown up is such a social environment.  

We love parenthood especially in such a beautiful rural environment where the boys are free to run around in great open spaces. They are now both at the local secondary school in Saint Jean d’Angely , which they enjoy and they are both of course as fluent in French as all their French school friends but are learning German and Spanish too. They both play  badminton and volleyball, swim like fish, love scuba diving and Thomas enjoys Aikido and cooking too.

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Learn about wine and…

Over the years we have developed the wine theme to our guests stay. This sets us apart from everyone else. Chris worked all his adult life in the wine industry, selling, buying and teaching wine, its also a passionate hobby. Our wine tastings, taste du terroir evenings and family vine walks add to the enjoyment of the parents holiday and are extremely popular, but its not compulsory of course ! Chris will happily chat all you like about wine in general, as long as you offer him a glass whilst hes doing it !  In fact he’ll chat about anything with a glass in his hand ! (religion, politics and Brexit are particular favourites – anything contentious, he always has an opinion !!)

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Wendy and Chris

In the winter time I concentrate on being a Mum, taking the children to all their activities, participating in local events (member of the parents association and also ran an English workshop at the primary school) plus running the office side of the business – updating the web site, taking bookings, social media and dealing with all the French bureacracy ! and then in my spare time, help Chris with building projects (I learnt how to do plumbing and electrics when we first moved here)

Chris concentrates on improving and expanding our business structurally, by renewing and repairing. We are also in the middle of building a whole new house
to let out on a long term basis, it will be our second and has an extension to our own house to finish too.

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Family friendly

Wendy has become a registered child minder here in France, so now Wendy can look after you children during the day to give you a break and some time to relax even more . You can rest assured in the knowledge that you also have a capable babysitter
on hand so you can enjoy a night out too.

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Since having our own children, the needs of young families on holiday were made even more evident to us. We have always been a family location but we now specifically cater to young families where we not only provide  pleasant self catering  accommodation but we can provide all the things required by a family with young children, from cots to steam sterilisers; baby bath to hand blenders; saving you room in the car and making your holiday run more smoothly.

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Entertaining children is a constant job; by providing toys, slides, swings and of course our pirate ship, trampoline, teddy bear picnics, pottery and T-shirt painting, scuba diving and other family activities such as the weekly barbecue and family vine walks an all in a safe environment where there are other English speaking children to play with too – your children are happy all day and I pretty much guarantee you’ll have the time to finish at least one book whilst staying with us !

Read about what our families think on Trip advisor……

 

We do go on holiday…

Just not in summer ! We have to take advantage of the winter period to take our own holiday and try to take a weeks skiing break plus a trip maybe to the Uk or somewhere else in France in the October half term or Easter. Occasionally we manage a much longer trip as we adore travelling. We did a lot before the children (Mexico, Guatemala, Egypt, Thailand, Australia ) and even when they were little but now we are restricted to school holidays it’s less often. We have been to New Zealand though which was amazing, Florida and Italy.

Climbing Fox glacier in South Island New Zealand

Climbing Fox glacier in South Island New Zealand

Eating Out

Chris and I love our food and wine and love to cook but also to eat out when we can. When the children came along we wern’t going to let that stop us. It takes hard work and commitment to take a 2 year old to a great restaurant but we persevered (taking it in turns to eat while the other entertained them, taking them out when they had a tantrum etc) For many years now the boys have LOVED eating out.  When the pennies allow and the occasion demands, we will happily take them to a Michelin starred restaurant – they love to try new foods, enjoy dressing up in their shirts, ties and aftershave and are a joy to converse with over a delicious meal.

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Your family holiday with us

It really is important to us that our guests enjoy their stay with us. Ask us as many questions as you can, we will be honest. We really do want everyone to have an amazing holiday and will go above and beyond to make sure that happens. If you are after crystal glasses and Louis 14th furniture you are on the wrong web site ! Our cottages are comfortably furnished, clean and well equipped but with the needs and comfort of young families in mind so you can relax. We treat everyone as friends, we are relaxed and informal and very approachable but not intrusive. We hope this has given you a little more insight into the Blakeman family and look forward to welcoming you to us in France soon.

For details on all our properties – both family orientated or stand alone villas take a look at our web site here….

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.

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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.

IGND17

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

IMG_4103

  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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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scuba diving experience for children and adults

PADI have developed special training courses to introduce youngsters to just how much fun and exciting breathing underwater can be. Scubaschool.fr and their British instructors have joined up with us to offer a range of diving options for all the family at our family holiday cottages here in the Charente Maritime, France. So make your holiday a bit special and try scuba diving  with us !

Geoff and Wendy taught Chris to dive and pass his PADI open water course which enabled us to spend a week on a live aboard boat off the Barrier Reef and Chris then passed his advanced open water. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to dive but had a great time snorkelling !

A few years ago Geoff and Wendy started teaching Benjamin to dive and enjoyed it so much came to us with a proposition to offer ‘try dives’ to our guests, both children and adults – we jumped at the chance ! Scubaschool.fr was born !

P1050784 Scubaschool.fr now visit both La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies each week . Children from 5 years old to adults up to 99 years + are offered try a dives or  PADI approved courses. The basic course lasts one hour and costs 30€. This is a great way to see whether you like the idea before perhaps moving on to more advanced courses here or at home.

All sessions are held in the heated swimming pools onsite at our properties. All equipment is provided and once the basic safety lessons are learnt you’ll be off around the pool collecting ‘treasure’ and they will literally have you diving through hoops !

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It is quite amazing how quickly children get to grips with ‘breathing’ underwater and we have had several children opt to then take the full ‘junior open water course’ available which even involves an exam ( they must have really loved it to study on their hols !)

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For those interested in going further Geoff can offer referral courses . This means that you can take all the ‘closed’ (meaning swimming pool) work and tests for a course and any coursework required whilst on holiday and Geoff will then give you a contact for a dive centre close to you at home in the UK to complete the necessary ‘open’ (non pool) tests.

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The benefits of doing this are that firstly it is a lot cheaper, from only 300€ which is way cheaper than doing the pool work in the UK plus you get to do most of the work in a lovely warm pool in lovely sunny weather !

However most people just want to ‘give it a go’ and experience this amazing sport in a safe and familiar environment and as a bit of fun on their holidays.  The kids absolutely love it and are far more daring and adventurous than their parents !!

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But what do you do if you have an eight year old who’s having a fab time diving for treasure and a six year old who is desperate to try it because it looks so much fun? Well – they can. Geoff and Wendy offer a try dive for younger children too – they don’t even need to be able to swim ! They’ll be restricted to the shallow end where they can stand up and the tanks will be held for them.

The scuba diving activity has proved so popular that often the children have to be staggered into different time groups depending on their abilities.

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Some children and adults like the look of doing it but arn’t really sure – no problem, you can have a 15 minute session for 15€ to see whether you like it or not then carry on to do the full hour if you want to.

Everyone is given a certificate of achievement at the end, a fantastic souvenir of your holiday at La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies.

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For full details of the courses and try dives avalable,  prices and contact details of scubaschool.fr, visit our web site www.grangedumoulin.com and www.lesvallaies.com

Available to guests at La Grange du Moulin, Les Vallaies and our other family friendly holiday accommodation in the Charente Maritime, France.

We also offer Dive holidays where you and a group of friends or you and your family can stay a whole week and learn all the scuba diving techniques and take your closed water section of your open water or advanced open water course in a group with other divers. Specific weeks are set aside in our availability to host scuba diving holidays here at la Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies  in the Charente Maritime, France. Alternatively contact us at wendyblakeman@gmail.com to make a booking.

For full information on our child friendly family holidays with scuba diving activities visit our web sites at www.grangedumoulin.com and www.lesvallaies.com.

A medical questionnaire must be completed beforehand by the parent, some medical conditions may mean that you are unable to dive so contact us beforehand if you are unsure as you may simply need another certificate authorised by your GP.

Content by Wendy Blakeman

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Childrens activities at our family holiday cottages

Our family friendly holiday gites welcome families with babies, toddlers and young children. We offer a safe and peaceful environment in which to enjoy your self catering
family holiday in rural France. With other toddlers and young children for yours to play
with and enclosed gardens and safely enclosed and alarmed swimming pools you will
be able to relax with a chilled glass of wine chatting to like minded parents whilst your
children make new friends (and you do too !)

As every parent knows, when the children are entertained, you can relax. At La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies family holiday cottages we offer a number of fun child friendly activities to keep your children and toddlers entertained.

TEDDY BEARS PICNICS

The Teddy bear picnics are held every week on site at La Grange du Moulin. Guests from all our family holiday accommodation can come over and join in the fun.  Its completely free, just join in if you want to.  As our guests are often out and about throughout the week, Its a good time to spend a pleasant afternoon ‘at home’  lazing in the garden chatting to other parents whilst the little ones interact and play
with each other.

P1090203We have bubbles, music and balloons then a homemade teddy bear cake, homemade popcorn (no sugar or salt) some fresh fruit and juice.

P1080687Chill out under the shade of the apple tree, chat to other parents, even Chris even pops out and offers you a chilled glass of Pineau – the local tipple, while your children enjoy their picnic.

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POTTERY PAINTING

After the teddy bears picnic our local English pottery lady comes along and offers a fun painting session . You can choose from different plates, bowls, cups and ornaments such as dinosaurs, fairies, pirates and unicorns. All the paints the brushes, the glazing and firing are all included in the price.

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Once your child has created their artwork whether it be with fingers, brushes or hands, Jo will take it away to be glazed and fired and return it before your holiday ends. All crockery items are dishwasher and microwave safe, we have dozens of fantastic bowls and plates our two boys have created over the years and we use them daily .

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Prices start from 11€ depending on the item you choose. Even tiny babies can join in with parents choosing a plate to put imprints of their tiny hands or feet; toddlers can create real masterpieces, multicoloured dinosaurs look fab and the older children will happily sit for ages delicately painting their pirate or fairy princess.

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SCUBA DIVING 

Scuba diving try a dives are held in the swimming pool at both La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies each week. Guests from our other cottages can come and join in too. This is for both children and adults and the British couple that run it (scubaschool.fr) take children from just 5 years old and they love it !! In fact the children are often far more capable and daring than the adults.

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All equipment is provided and once the initial safety training is completed they will have your children literally swimming through hoops ! The smaller children don’t wear the tanks and they don’t even need to be able to swim as the instructors will hold them under arm.

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A certificate is presented on completion of their ‘try a dive’ course, a fantastic souvenir of their holiday. You can choose from a 15 min dive for just 10€ or a 1 hour session for 25€ – or if you are unsure you can start with the 15min lesson and continue if you decide (like most do) you love it.

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FABRIC PAINTING  

Each week we also have a fabric painting session. Generally held at La Grange du Moulin but also at Les Vallaies if there are sufficient numbers, again any of our guests from any of our holiday cottages and villas can come and join in.

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We have T-shirts, bags, purses and pencil cases to choose from. We have lots of stencils which the little ones can use to create some great designs with the paint and sponges and hands are a superb way of creating a very personal design.

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Prices from 5€ for a purse to 10€ for a larger t-shirt.

PIZZA MAKING

This is not an organised activity – well not by us anyway ! Guests at Les Vallaies have a wood burning pizza oven which makes a great center piece for a sociable evening with the children making their own pizzas . All you need to do is organise a few of the Dads to tend the fire in the oven (a hard job drinking beer and chatting) and buy all your ingredients – we provide a recipe for the pizza dough but it may be a bit easier to just buy it from the supermarket !

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The children love making their own pizzas and the Dads enjoy playing with fire !

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FAMILY VINEYARD WALKS

A lovely activity for all the family. Enjoy a gentle stroll along the lanes and local tracks to the vineyard and learn all about the local area, its history and all about the vines. The children have fun looking for grasshoppers and finding beehives and playing with the other children, while Mum and Dad get an interesting chat from Chris our resident wine expert.

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Watch this space for all the grown up activities we have on offer too, after all a great family holiday means Mum and Dad get to have fun too !

For more information on all our family activities and our family friendly holiday accommodation follow the links at the top of the page

Wendy Blakeman

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Scuba diving at our holiday cottages

PADI havIMAG0366e developed special training courses to introduce youngsters to just how much fun and exciting breathing underwater can be!

Scubaschool.fr and their British instructors have joined up with us to offer a range of diving options for all the family at our family holiday cottages here in the Charente Maritime, France

So make your holiday a bit special and try scuba diving  with us !

A few years after we moved here in 1996 we met another British couple who had decided to move to this beautiful region of the Charente Maritime in France. We quickly learned that they had worked all their lives in the dive industry. Geoff is a very senior course director – he teaches the teachers who teach you and I, so he knows his stuff and his wife Wendy is also an experienced Dive master and has owned many dive shops throughout the uk, selling and maintaining equipment and organising the dive courses for Geoff to run. Although being semi retired they are still heavily involved in the industry but can pick and choose their work and have recently been running courses in Australia too – escaping the cold winters here enjoying the Australian summers !

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Here’s Geoff teaching Benjamin his dive skills in our swimming pool at La Grange du Moulin.

Geoff and Wendy taught Chris to dive and pass his PADI open water course which enabled us to spend a week on a live aboard boat off the Barrier Reef and Chris then passed his advanced open water. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to dive but had a great time snorkelling !

A few years ago Geoff and Wendy started teaching Benjamin to dive and enjoyed it so much came to us with a proposition to offer ‘try dives’ to our guests, both children and adults – we jumped at the chance ! Scubaschool.fr was born !

P1050784 Scubaschool.fr now visit both La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies each week . Children from 5 years old to adults up to 99 years + are offered try a dives or  PADI approved courses. The basic course lasts one hour and costs 25€. This is a great way to see whether you like the idea before perhaps moving on to more advanced courses here or at home.

 

All sessions are held in the heated swimming pools onsite at our properties. All equipment is provided and once the basic safety lessons are learnt you’ll be off around the pool collecting ‘treasure’ and they will literally have you diving through hoops !

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It is quite amazing how quickly children get to grips with ‘breathing’ underwater and we have had several children opt to then take the full ‘junior open water course’ available which even involves an exam ( they must have really loved it to study on their hols !)

 

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For those interested in going further Geoff can offer referral courses . This means that you can take all the ‘closed’ (meaning swimming pool) work and tests for a course and any coursework required whilst on holiday and Geoff will then give you a contact for a dive centre close to you at home in the UK to complete the necessary ‘open’ (non pool) tests.

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The benefits of doing this are that firstly it is a lot cheaper, only 250€ which is way cheaper than doing the pool work in the UK plus you get to do most of the work in a lovely warm pool in lovely sunny weather !

 

 

However most people just want to ‘give it a go’ and experience this amazing sport in a safe and familiar environment and as a bit of fun on their holidays.  The kids absolutely love it and are far more daring and adventurous than their parents !!

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But what do you do if you have an eight year old who’s having a fab time diving for treasure and a six year old who is desperate to try it because it looks so much fun? Well – they can. Geoff and Wendy offer a try dive for younger children too – they don’t even need to be able to swim ! They’ll be restricted to the shallow end where they can stand up and the tanks will be held for them.

The scuba diving activity has proved so popular that often the children have to be staggered into different time groups depending on their abilities.

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Some children and adults like the look of doing it but arn’t really sure – no problem, you can have a 15 minute session for 10€ to see whether you like it or not then carry on to do the full hour if you want to.

Everyone is given a certificate of achievement at the end, a fantastic souvenir of your holiday at La Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies.

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For full details of the courses and try dives avalable,  prices and contact details of scubaschool.fr, visit our web site www.grangedumoulin.com and www.lesvallaies.com

Available to guests at La Grange du Moulin, Les Vallaies and our other family friendly holiday accommodation in the Charente Maritime, France.

We also offer Dive holidays where you and a group of friends or you and your family can stay a whole week and learn all the scuba diving techniques and take your closed water section of your open water or advanced open water course in a group with other divers. Specific weeks are set aside in our availability to host scuba diving holidays. Geoff and Wendy will be at the ExCEL in London on the 14th and 15th February 2015 for LIDS – the London International Dive Show selling dive courses and dive holidays here at la Grange du Moulin and Les Vallaies  in the Charente Maritime, France. Alternatively contact us at wendyblakeman@gmail.com to make a booking.

For full information on our child friendly family holidays with scuba diving activities visit our web sites at www.grangedumoulin.com and www.lesvallaies.com.

A medical questionnaire must be completed beforehand by the parent, some medical conditions may mean that you are unable to dive so contact us beforehand if you are unsure as you may simply need another certificate authorised by your GP.

Content by Wendy Blakeman

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