About Us | The Courtyard About Us – The Courtyard

About Us

The Courtyard at Sainte Catherine is an award-winning family friendly Gîte and Chambre D’hotes holiday rental in the heart of the Charente; offering quality child friendly accommodation this is a perfect base to discover the region and the wonderful historic towns of Jarnac, Cognac and Angouleme.

We are Charlie and Stephanie May, our thirteen-year-old son Finn, Lilah and Suzie the dogs and Jet the cat (plus the chickens and tortoises…). We moved here in 2010 to live a different life and create a beautiful place for people to come and relax in the Charente – our favourite region of France.

The Locality: The buildings that make up The Courtyard were virtual ruins when we acquired them in 2004, however, the location was so peaceful, and the views so beautiful, that we took on the renovation. Despite our rural location, there is everything that you could need on a daily basis just two minutes away in Rouillac – a pretty village which dates from before Roman times and is still host to one of the oldest and largest farmer’s markets in France on the 27th of each month.

We are also near to the town of Jarnac which means we have the Charente River as a playground – fantastic if you like the outdoor life as we do. If you need a bit of culture, nightlife or shopping then we are close to Angouleme, the region’s capital, as well as to Cognac itself. Both towns offer a great mix of museums, galleries, shopping, bars and restaurants.

The Courtyard started life as part of the Priory of Ste Catherine de la Champ or Saint Catherine of the Field. Not only did it provide the kitchens, refectory and dormitories for the monks but also offered refuge to pilgrims on their long journey south to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

We are surrounded by sunflowers and vineyards with most of the grapes being sold directly to the Courvoisier Cognac house in Jarnac. There are wonderful views to the south – ideal inspiration for photographers and artists. We often look at the old stone walls and roofs and reflect on how beautifully and carefully they were crafted back in the 1700s by the monks themselves.

In the summer the thick limestone walls keep the buildings’ interiors cool, whilst in winter they retain the heat from the wood-burning stoves to keep you cozy. Many people who come here fall in love with simply sitting outside and watching the birds coming in to nest.  We have collared doves, woodpeckers, red-backed shrikes and buzzards, kestrels, goss hawks amongst others. We often see bats and always look forward to a visit from a beautiful, silent barn owl in the evening. To observe the sky at night is to remember how it used to look when we were children – so clear and full of shooting stars.