During the course of the holiday we will go on three or four outings. These are optional and can be decided by the guests on arrival. The ones closer to home will be just a morning or afternoon, but if you want to go further afield it will be a day out. Please note that entrance fees to exhibitions and museums and any drinks, snacks or meals bought on outings are not included in the cost of the holiday.
The lovely medieval town of St Jean d'Angely is a 15 minute drive away. The narrow pedestrian streets are flanked by timber framed buildings, there is a small square filled with cafés and bars where you can sit and watch the world go by. Every Wednesday and Saturday morning there is a bustling street market selling local food produce, baskets, plants and clothing. The shops include two small yarn shops, a fabric shop, an amazing sweet shop and Amalgame, the lovely interiors shop filled with kitchen gadgets, ceramics, cushions, candles, soap and many more fantastic gifts.
Saintes is an old Roman town built around the Charente river and is a 20 minute drive away. It has a museum in the centre of town and a well preserved Roman Amphitheatre, a peaceful spot to stop for a coffee. The pedestrianised streets are packed with shops, bars and cafés. There is a large yarn and fabric shop on the industrial estate just outside of the town which we include in the trip.
Cognac is home to many of the major Cognac distilleries and is a 25 minute drive from us. The Cognac houses line the Charente river and tours can be arranged. Our favourite one is Chateau Royal as it includes a bit of history about the Chateau and of course a tasting of the Cognac they produce. Further up the hill there is an indoor market, park and shops. There are some lovely clothes shops and My little mailles, the best yarn shop in the area.
You either love or hate them. A brocante is the equivalent of a car boot sale in the UK, but there are some good bargains to be found and it is of course very French! The brocantes are held on Sundays at a different village every week, and there is nearly always one within 20 km from us, a good morning outing for a nice sunny day.
These are similar to a brocante, but all textile orientated! The stalls include vintage fabrics and lace, buttons, yarn, trimmings and various accessories. They are not held as often as the brocantes, so it is pot luck if there will be one to visit during your holiday, but there is a semi-permanent one at Aulnay (30 minutes from us) that is open most Fridays and Saturdays which we can make a trip to.
Royan is on the Atlantic coast and popular as a holiday destination for the French, it is about an hours drive from us so this is a full day outing. There is a Marina lined with bars and cafés, some very chic clothes shops, a yarn shop and a large indoor market.The town was badly bombed during the 2nd World War so most of it was rebuilt in the 50's and 60's, including the church. Eglise de Notre-Dame is an imposing concrete building, but it has some stunning stained glass windows which are fantastic inspiration for knitting and crochet designs.
A beautiful city on the Atlantic coast, just over an hours drive from us so this is a day trip but there is lots to see. Le Vieux port is packed with bars and cafés where you can sit on a terrace overlooking the old marina. There is a large indoor food market, many beautiful shops including Bleu Framboise a lovely yarn shop. If you want a bit of culture there are museums, exhibitions and a large Aquarium. A short walk along the city wall will take you to a small beach if you fancy an icecream and a paddle.
Angouleme is just over an hour's drive from us and is packed with impressive buildings, designer shops and the lovely yarn shop Bleu Framboise. This is a day's outing and can be combined with a trip to the Abbey at Bassac.
Aulnay is a small market town just half an hour North of us with a beautiful old Romanesque church. The town square is surrounded by shops and cafe's where you can watch the world go by. A short drive further North takes you to the lovely Chateau de Dompierre.
This impressive Chateau is in the marshlands to the West of us. It takes about 40 minutes to get there so a tour of the gardens or chateau can be done in half a day. The original garden was designed in the 17th century, but over the years the marshland caused the gardens to subside. At the end of the 20th century there was a massive project to renew all the landscaping and create the gardens you can now visit.