Things To Do - Out and About in the Local Region
The Poitou-Charentes region sits below the Vendee in the South West of France and is made up of four departments; Charente-Maritime, Charente, Deux-Sevres and Vienne. The area as a whole offers a gentle pace of life set in vineyards and sunflower fields with many unspoilt beaches, plenty of restaurants, chateaux, rivers and historical sites.
treize is situated in the village of Varaize in the Charente-Maritime department which generally receives in the region of 2300 hours of sun a year making it the sunniest spot on the Atlantic coast and is an ideal base to explore the area;
Varaize itself is a typical french village of about 650 inhabitants and is situated along the banks of the River Nie and around the 14C Roman Church and village green; there is also a tennis court, a Salle des Fetes and a small sports field.
St. Jean D'Angely is the nearest town a 10 minute drive from treize on the banks of the River Boutonne. A medieval town with a good selection of supermarkets, bars & restaurants and a popular twice weekly market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. You could also visit the Royal Abbey, try out "Atlantys" the indoor swimming complex with its flumes & pools or visit the river where there is a small children's pool, boating, table tennis, a volleyball court and a children's playground;
Aulnay is a pretty market town a short drive away, set around the square, a weekly market brings this town to life and there is also an outdoor pool which is worth a visit.
Matha is another local market town with weekly markets which are worth a visit.
Within 30 minutes or so drive from treize are the towns of Cognac, Saintes, Surgeres and St. Savingan each town has something fun to offer;
Saintes is steeped in history and was originally a Roman settlement, the fantastic roman amphitheatre remains and there are often free shows or "spectacles" during the summer months. A number of boat trips also operate from Saintes if you fancy a trip up the river or you could visit the popular market or the nearby roman thermal baths;
St. Savignan is also on the river Charente and has a park with a boating lake where you can hire electric boats which seat one adult and one child, each boat is different!
Surgeres is a pretty cobbled town which is reputedly the capital of the French butter and dairy industry (the butter really is very tasty!); there are weekly morning markets and also once a month on the third Tuesday a Grande Foire. Other options include visits to the national dairy school, the medieval fortress or a walk along the banks of the Geres;
Cognac is most well-known for its famous alcoholic tipple which you can sample at the numerous local distilleries which offer tours during the summer season (make sure you agree who's driving home before you start!). There is a cobbled pedestrian area with shops, cafes and restaurants and also a park with a large children's' playground;
The following places are slightly further afield, 45 mins to an hour or so in the car but we believe are worth the trip:
Angouleme is reputedly a trendy ramparted town with a bit of a "café-culture", there are also plenty of bars and restaurants; this town is host to many popular festivals including comic-strips, gourmet food and vintage cars! You can also get to Paris from Angouleme in less than three hours on the TGV.
La Rochelle is a wonderful cosmopolitan port with a lively marina, the harbourside houses a great selection of restaurants - many of them offering locally caught seafood, there is a wide range of shopping in the cobbled arcades, boat trips are on offer round the harbour or to the local islands, and there is also a market & a flea market, a fantastic aquarium (always a popular choice); and of course the beach with its associated activities;
Ile D'Oleron has long sandy beaches, vineyards and oyster beds, you could take the tourist train which crosses the south of the island to visit the lighthouse or discover the island by bicycle;
Ile D'Aix is home to wild-geese, herons and much other wildlife and is only accessible by boat, you can explore on foot, bike or horseback or kick back and relax and swim at the "Grande Plage";
Ile de Reis joined to the mainland by an enormous 2 mile long bridge but once you get to the island the bicycle rules; use one to discover the salt-marshes and oyster beds or enjoy the 10km of beaches & dunes;
La Palmyre is reputedly the best zoo in Europe and a great day out even if you have no children with you - the last time we went our party consisted of six adults and we had a fantastic time;
Marais-Poitevin is the Poitou Marshlands conservation area and is a network of woodland canals where you can take a picnic or have an adventure and hire a punt to explore; Coulon is the main departure point for boat trips or there is also a miniature train;
If you fancy a longer day trip the following are worth the effort:
Les Sables-D'Olonne (approx 1 hr 30 mins) - seaside resort on la cote de la lumiere;
Poitiers (approx 1 hr 20 mins) - with its Futuroscope theme park is a must for all the family and is well worth a visit.
Bordeaux (approx 1hr 30 mins) - bustling city with surrounding vineyards (including St. Emilion) for wine tasting, fantastic restaurants and amazing beaches including the biggest sand-dune in Europe at Arcachon which is well worth a visit.
Other fun things for kids of all ages:
- Donkey sanctuary at Dampierre sur Boutonne
- Noah's Ark (L'Arche de Noe) on the Ile de Re is a combination of zoo, botanical garden, oceanographic museum, shell museum, butterfly & insect farm & history of the prison!
- Prospecting for gold at Confolens
- Letuffe Chocolate factory at Angouleme
- Comic Strip museum at Angouleme
- Zoorama at Chize
- Puppet museum at Melle
- Visit Archachon (near Bordeaux couple of hours drive) to see the largest sand-dune in Europe - climb up it and then run or "surf" down - fantastic funů
These are a selection of things to do in and around the area, however, there are many other things to do & see, choose for yourself from the guidebooks and leaflets that you'll find at treize.
For further information on the area, things to do, restaurants, climate, maps and more visit www.poitou-charentes-vacances.com (click on the british flag for the site to be translated).