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Aulnay de Saintonge. This is our nearest town, and is just a ten minute drive away. It's a quaint little town with a beautiful church, and was once one of the pilgrimage sites on the route to Santiago de Compostela.
On Sunday mornings, the central square becomes a busy little market where you can sample some of the best fresh local produce, followed by a glass of wine in Le Colombier which has its tables and chairs spilling out onto the streets. Don't forget to order some herby chips and a roast chicken from one of the nearby stalls to take home for dinner.
Saint Jean d'Angely. Approximately 20 minutes away by car, the medieval town of Saint Jean is sigificantly bigger than Aulnay and boasts some lovely restaurants, cafes and shops. With its cobbled streets, and historical buildings, it's the perfect place simply to amble around and soak in the atmosphere.
The market is held on a Wednesday and Saturday and is one of the best in the local area. There is an abudance of stalls selling fish.seafood, organic fruit & vegetables, locally sourced meats and honey, flowers, plants and clothes.
We would also recommend spending a day by the lake. There is a large picnic area (we supply a hamper in the gite) as well as many activities on offer during high season. Pedaloes and canoes can be hired, there is a mini golf course and a playground.
La Rochelle. Under an hour away by car, this really is a 'must-visit'. It's easy to see why La Rochelle is one of France's most famous coastal towns. Think 17th century architecture, cobbled streets, fine dining & people-watching around the pretty harbour.
The town centre is largely pedestrainised making it a great place to explore on foot. Boutique shops adorn the high street, and there is a fabulous choice of restaurants and cafes both around the harbour and in the town centre.
There's always a lot happening here. The streets buzz at all times of the day with numerous entertainers, from singers to bands to roller skaters to artists.
There are also many museums,an aquarium, and the town's old fortifications, where prisoners were once kept, are open for tourists.
Cognac. Approx. 30 minutes away by car, the town is world famous due to the liquor produced there.
The town itself is full of history with an abundance of charming little streets lined with medieval buildings, many restaurants, cafes and creperies.
It's home to the famous Chateau de Cognac which was the birthplace of King Francois 1, and now serves as the headquarters for Otard Cognac. Regular tours are given where you can learn how the cognac is made, and also take a peek round the castle.
The River Charente runs through the centre of the town, and river cruises can be booked through the local tourist board.
Saintes. 30 minutes away, located on the River Charente, Saintes was once occupied by the Romans, The town dates back to 40AD and is bursting with history and culture. For two euros per person, you can go and see the biggest and oldest amphitheatre in France. It's an impressive site especially given how well preserved it is. There are further Roman artefacts to be viewed next to the Arch of Germanicus alongside the river.
The old town has plenty of charm with its narrow streets, and has some great shops, restaurants and beautiful architecture.
Marais Poitevin (Green Venice). A network of green marshland makes up the landscape of Green Venice. It is a fairly flat area, making it an excellent place to to see by bike, although most people do tend to use the waterways to get about. Take a guided tour on a traditional flat-bottomed boat, rent a canoe or trot around the villages on horse and cart.
Ile de Re. We are just over an hour from this sunny island, which is connected to the main land by a causeway. It is most famous for its beaches which are fine and sandy in the south, with excellent watersports, but it would certainly be worth your time to pay a visit to one of the island's many villages. Saint-Martin is particularly lovely - chic boutique shops & high quality restaurants are set around a very pretty harbour whereas the north is home to two impressive seventeenth century fortifications.