Guest Review from Sarah Hart

Sarah Hart‎ Gites in the Charente The Courtyard at Ste Catherine

The ‘crazy gang’, nicknamed after our 6 and 4 year old boys, have just returned from 2 glorious weeks staying in Maison Cahcee at The Courtyard in Ste Catherine. We thought the best way to sum up our experiences were to put our top 10 list together (in no set order).
1. Building sandcastles on the beach at Royan with the bumper cars on the pier and having crepes and glace – approx 90 mins
2. Horse-riding on each Wednesday morning on gentle ponies, lead through the Roman Amphitheatre, side roads and forest – approx 7 mins
3. A paddle in the river with fishing nets; a play in the park; a stroll through the town, lock and park; a fabulous pizza for lunch (or dinner) and an afternoon boat trip along the Charente at Jarnac – 20 mins
4. Base du Plein Aire in Cognac in the afternoons – kids went crazy on the water slide, trampolines, bouncy castle, ‘Go Ape’ high wire, paddling pool, park area and there is a fabulous snack bar too plus mini golf (we loved it so much we went 3 times). A stroll along the river amongst the famous Cognac makers. The park near the museum which has a few animals and play park, is a must visit too – 20 mins
5. Les château des Enigmes in Pons – a wonderful 3 hour treasure hunt based on the story of the Three Musketeers through the grounds and château with picnic spots to have lunch or you can eat at the little restaurant – 40 mins
6. The museum in Angouleme behind the cathedral, the cathedral itself, a mooch around the shops and lovely outside restaurants – 20 mins
7. Being able to enjoy all our favourite food and drink (the reason why we visit France each year) – croissants, duck, wine, pineau, fromage, bagettes, brioche and this year, Cognac and tonic (very refreshing and discovered at a Cognac tasting at a local producer). The local supermarket is only 7 mins away in Rouillac, but there are also the larger ones on the outskirts of Cognac and Angouleme plus Decathlon in Angouleme for all your sporting equipment. If you are around on the 27th of the month, you must visit the large, local market in Rouillac.
8. Our wonderful gite, Maison Cachee and surroundings – the gite was extremely clean, well equipped and had toys for our boys (plus a large box of communal Lego) ; our sunny outside bbq area and garden, the splendid swimming pool and play area for the kids. The added bonuses were the Sky TV (for the kids) and WIFI (for the adults). Don’t miss bat watching and star gazing.
9. Our lovely hostess, Steph and our hosts Charlie and Finn – we cannot thank you enough for an awesome holiday – the welcome drinks and snacks at 7pm with information about the gite and what to do (glad we could do 2 of these!); the amazing meal and drinks on our final night plus the boys eating like pirates with Finn; our chats each day; the boys’ water fights with Finn; the bike challenge (still got proof of these!); the guitar lesson from Finn and tuning by Charlie and the bike riding lesson from Finn. Will miss you all dearly.
10. Suzy and Lilah – the two most amazing dogs we have ever met. Our 4 year old was petrified of dogs until 30 mins after meeting these two wonderful creatures, which speaks volumes for their owners. The boys walked the dogs in the vineyards (avoiding vole catching if we could), cuddled, stroked and fed them.
The above is just the tip of what you can do in the Charente area – there is so much more to offer and do, but these are what we enjoyed with our children. Our successes this holiday- all down to being at The Courtyard – were; overcoming the fear of dogs by our 4 year old, taking the stabilisers off the bike of our 6 year old and practising riding at the local football pitch, an improvement in the swimming abilities of each of them, and most of all the lovely friendships we have made.
Thank you again for a most enjoyable holiday and all your kindness, generosity and hospitality. The ‘crazy gang’ will be back one year very soon (hopefully not as crazy next time!).

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