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  • A special Christmas with my family

    Only 2 days to go and I will be in France where my family will be waiting for me at the airport in La Rochelle, where I was born.Only 2 days to go and I will be in France where my family will be waiting for me at the airport in La Rochelle, where I was born. It has been a long time since I have spent a lovely Christmas with my family so I am really looking forward to spend some quality time with them. Even so very sadly my mum is no longer with us, we know that she will still be there in spirit. As soon as I arrive in La Rochelle, the plan is to go shopping for a big Christmas tree so we can decorate it all together. It will be a very nostalgic moment and it will take me back to the previous childhood Christmas's when I used to go with my mum to chose our Christmas tree, this was so much fun for me… I cannot wait for the 24th to arrive when we are going to enjoy a typical French ‘reveillon’ at around midnight, which is our tradition in France, and different to England where the main meal is usually on Christmas day. Our food will include oysters, prawns, ‘foie gras’, duck with chestnuts, delicious creamy French brie, and last but not least the typical French ‘bûche de Noël you cannot miss. You have the choice of either the ice cream one or the butter cream one which I must admit are both very delicious and I find it very difficult to decide which one to have so I think I will have a bit of both! And afterwards we will open our Christmas presents...
  • Beach fun, music and days out in Charente-Maritime

    Long sandy beaches combined with France’s second sunniest climate make Charente-Maritime a mecca for families, couples and groups in search of swimming and water sports in an unspoilt location. There is plenty of space and great facilities for enjoying boating, surfing and beach sailing – and when you want an evening out or a day away from the beach, choose from lots of events and interesting places to visit.

    Old Port of La Rochelle

    This beautiful historic harbour has three outstanding medieval towers and is surrounded by stately buildings The harbour is also the biggest yachting centre on France's Atlantic coast, so you can spend many happy hours wandering through the old streets and looking at the boats. There is a real holiday buzz here with street performers, a fabulous selection of fish restaurants and welcoming bars. Elsewhere in La Rochelle are an aquariumand France’s largest zoo.

    From 17th – 22th September ,La Rochelle is host to Le Grand Pavois, one of the most important boat shows in the world with more than 750 boats on display, 89,000 visitors in 2012 and covering an area of 100,000 square metres.

    La Rochelle

    The following month, music takes centre stage with the Jazz between Two Towers festival - one of the best known in France attracting stars such as John Scofield, Joe Louis Walker and Michelle Hendricks. The beautiful setting between the towers of the old port adds to the atmosphere.

    The Sixteenth Jazz en Ré Festival will take place from 22nd to 25th August on the beautiful and popular Ile de Ré. This is an island where life is lived at a delightfully slow pace and is a great place to enjoy cycling and watching birds on the nature reserve – and maybe spotting a few of the celebrities who have homes here.  

    Boat trips

    Boats leave La Rochelle harbour for trips to several destinations, including the many islands off this part of the coast. The voyage to the Island of Aix includes sailing around the ancient Fort Boyard, an impressive and photogenic sight.

    Oysters and Fort Louvois

    Marennes is home to the largest oyster cultivation area in all of Europe, so you’ll have the opportunity to see the growing and refinement process and also enjoy savouring oysters really fresh from the sea. Between Oléron Island and the Marennes Basin, is Fort Louvois, a 17th century coastal fort built on a submerged rock between 1691 to 1694. Today, the Fort is open to the public, offering a fascinating visit.

    Shopping as it used to be

    The Musee des Commerces d'Autrefois is a private museum in the town of Rochefort, south of La Rochelle. It vividly brings to life the shops and daily routines of this busy port in the early 20th century, with a bar, a dental surgery, chemists, hairdressers, general hardware shop and more – all equipped with the products and machinery of the time.

    For more ideas, travel information and a fantastic range of holiday accommodation, check out our complete guide to Charente-Maritime.

  • Sunshine holidays in charming Charente

    Charente, our region of the month for August, is a land of sunshine, cognac, sunflowers and vineyards. Located in south west France and part of the Poitou-Charentes area, the region is named after the Charente river and offers a peaceful unspoilt landscape of rolling hills dotted with church spires, pretty medieval villages, forests, rivers, ponds and lakes.

    This means that, although there is no coastline, there are plenty of places to swim, making it ideal for a family summer holiday. The French are expert at creating attractive beaches with amenities at inland rivers and lakes – and Charente is no exception, as there are plenty of plans d’eau, aquatic centres and outdoor pools.
    Spend all day swimming and sunbathing at the beach at Aubeterre sur Dronne beside the Dronne river; take the children to the Nautilis Aquatic Centre at St Yrieux sure Charente, where they can ride the water slides and play to their heart’s content. For a quiet day out, you may choose the beautiful lakeside beach at Le Gours. Details and photos of these and many more are on the Charente tourism website – just follow the link below.

    The Charente is also a land of Festivals. All year, it moves, swings dances, draws, plays and sings… Among the more unusual are the Festivals Nuits Romans, when the most beautiful Roman churches are brought to life with street art, fire and music, all summer until 5th September.

    Angouleme, the region’s second city holds the Circuit International des Remparts 18 to 20 September, when it is transformed in the style of Le mans to create a city curcuit for elegant legendary vintage racing cars including Aston Martin, MG, Bugatti, Porsche and Lotus.

    The famous city of Cognac, shown in the above photo, celebrates exuberantly with the Coupe de Chauffe 4th to 6th September, when the streets are alive with music, dance and celebration – all completely free.

    And, of course, all through the year you can tour factories where Cognac brandy is made and take wine tours and tastings. There is even an informative Cognac museum and another devoted to the arts celebrating the famous drink. An interesting attrraction on a totally different theme is the Memorial of Resistance at Chasseneuil-sur-Bonnieure, very informative about the scale and nature of wartime resistance in France.

    We have a beautiful selection of great value accommodation at farmhouses, watermills, country cottages and gites, so check out our Charente listings and Info guide now for your last minute summer holiday or next trip to France!