Été 2017: Merci et à bientôt chez nous!

  A fond farewell from our fair well!

A fond farewell from our fair well!

August waved us goodbye with a gloriously sunny smile yesterday and another season is drawing steadily to a close here at Rue Vincent. We have been privileged, as always, to host some wonderful guests, many of them returning for a second or even third visit to our little corner of Charente-Maritime. It has been our pleasure to welcome you all and we hope to see you again very soon chez nous.

With an updated look for 2017, the cottage has seen visitors from across France, the UK and the Netherlands this year. The new sunbathing area in the private courtyard and the nautical-themed makeover inside have been well received by new guests and our regulars. A nod to our département's 'maritime' status, we are delighted with the responses we have received.

In addition to some excellent days and balmy evenings out our guests have spent many  hours in the pool, the games barn and playing games on the field. Jazz and Indie would like to say a special thank you to everyone who included them in their games of football, table tennis or fun around the pool. They apologise for stealing the odd ping-pong ball mid-match and hope it added to your entertainment! They were especially impressed with Jacob and Ollie's efforts at the crossbar challenge on the field and with Annabel's new diving skills.

Looking forward to 2018, our 'Rock Lobster' and Crazy Croc proved to be a huge hit in the swimming pool, so are likely to be joined by a few new inflatable creatures for next season. They will be getting a final outing when our last visitors of the summer arrive at the weekend, We are open to suggestions for some additional games for the field, too, so please tell us what you'd like to see.

  We like gardening, too!

We like gardening, too!

For now it's time to tidy the garden ably assisted, as ever, by Indie & Jazz. Whilst we are on the subject of gardening, we would like to say a big thank you to Ryan, one of our younger guests, who was a star during his stay, collecting windfalls in the orchard. We are grateful also, to our family visitors who jumped on the mower or wielded a hedge-trimmer earlier in the season in return for their keep! The grass may not need cutting at this time of year but there is always plenty to keep us busy elsewhere.

It's au revoir for now to the lavender which has wafted its gorgeous perfume across the garden all season long and there are lots of roses and shrubs to prune, too. The dahlias and geraniums are still putting on a show for us and we have grapes, figs and apples a-plenty, so there's lots of colour and rich pickings for our end-of-season guests. A welcome wave of late season warmth, some spectacular sunsets and a chilled glass of Pineau - what better way to bid farewell to Summer 2017?

Pineau

If you're missing us already, or if you would like to experience Rue Vincent's hospitality for the first time, bookings are now open for 2018.



Merci à tous et à bientôt chez nous!

Pete and Jackie

 

Jackie, Pete, Indie & Jazz

x

 

 

Jolly jaunts for all in July

What a busy schedule it has been this month for us and for our visitors here at Rue Vincent, with lots of great days out for everyone. Familiar local gems such as the Château de la Roche Courbon and the amphitheatre in Saintes are always a pleasure, especially when we get to share them with somebody new. La Rochelle never fails to please: the aquarium, the waterfront and the three imposing towers flanking the harbour are a must, while lunch or dinner at one of the little eateries dotted along the quayside allows customers to sample the local wine and seafood while taking in the wonderful view.

  Le Chateau de la Roche Courbon: an 'arty' makeover for a favourite haunt!

Le Chateau de la Roche Courbon: an 'arty' makeover for a favourite haunt!

A trip to Zoodyssée near Chizé (just 40 minutes from Rue Vincent) proved very popular with one of our young guests and was also a first visit for us. Birds of prey (including a beautiful Snowy Owl to delight Harry Potter fans!), wolves, bison, ancient cattle breeds, wild cats, magnificent deer, Poitou donkeys and playful Capucin monkeys among other species, all make their home here and feeding time is a particular joy for the youngest visitors. Go early to avoid missing out!

Zoodyssée collage

A visit to the old silver mines in Melle (35 minutes north of Rue Vincent) is an excellent choice on a scorching summer's day. However hot it is outside, the temperature in the underground galleries is a cool 14 degrees, so don't forget to pack jumpers! 

Discover and wonder at the subterranean caves with their wealth of minerals and crystals; galleries excavated centuries ago using ancient methods and presentations celebrating the proud history of Melle as one of the very few places in France where early silver and gold coins were minted.

  Photo credit Jacques Bodin -  Creative commons licence

Photo credit Jacques Bodin - Creative commons licence

Paléosite at St Césaire (another super attraction under 45 minutes' drive away) is built on the site of an exciting archeological discovery and promises a great day out for adults and children with an interest in history. A prehistoric village, its people and creatures, together with crafts and skills such as tool-making and painting are brought to life on screen, through virtual reality and by computer imaging as well as in real life on the site where the skeleton of a Neanderthal woman was unearthed just decades ago.

Paléosite St Césaire

21st-century technology juxtaposed with ancient wisdom will fascinate children and adults alike. Step onto the body scanner to compare your skeleton to that of a Neanderthal and discover what you might have looked like via a computer program with some clever facial mapping. Try your hand at launching a flint-headed spear, join in an archaeological dig or paint your face warrior-style. Learn how those famed stone tools were fashioned and the ways in which our ancestors made fire through regular demonstration sessions.

A selection of activities runs at various times throughout the day and there is plenty to see and do around the site in between, so allow at least three hours for your visit. There are picnic benches if you choose to take your own lunch, but also a restaurant serving snacks, meals and ice creams. Full details of tariffs and opening hours here.

A little further afield, but a fabulous day trip for wine-lovers, is the pretty village of St Émilion, nestled among the vines from which this world-famous wine is produced. There is limited parking in the heart of the village, but it can be difficult to wind your way up and down again through narrow streets, so using the car parking facilities at the bottom of the hill is a better option. Once safely installed it's up to you to decide whether to climb the cobbled streets on foot or ascend via the tourist train or a little red tuc-tuc.

La Tour du Roy St Émilion

Browse and taste the wares of independent producers and larger merchants, all eager to share the story of this fine wine region. Choose your favourites to take away. You will need very deep pockets for the most prestigious houses and vintages! Happily there are plenty of delicious alternatives (reds, whites and rosés) to taste at all price points.

  Bonne dégustation!

Bonne dégustation!

Lunch in one of the bistros and restaurants is highly recommended, together with a stroll afterwards to walk off your meal and admire the scenery. The views from the top of  the 13th-century Tour du Roy are stunning!

With the 14 juillet celebrations in our village added to the mix this month, it has been a most enjoyable few weeks for us all, but as the sun sets on July we are looking forward to August and a whole new itinerary. What will we be getting up to? Watch this space!

 

Châtel en Fête 2017 - Châtelaillon-Plage

Photo credit - Paul Freegard

La fête de la musique is a national event here in France with almost every town and village hosting events to mark the occasion. Having celebrated in St Jean d'Angély last June, we decided to head for the coast and our local beach this weekend to take part in the 20th annual Châtel en Fête - a two-day free music and dance festival with live bands on the beach and spectacular shoreline fireworks on Saturday evening, followed by a carnival-style procession of floats and dancers celebrating music across the decades through the centre of Châtelaillon-Plage on Sunday afternoon. 

Saturday's revellers enjoyed live music and dance on the beach and through the streets of the town until sundown, followed by a fabulous display of fireworks to round off the day in style. We were sorry to have missed them, but we are very grateful to our friend Paul for his photos of Saturday evening.

  Saturday eve photos - Paul Freegard

Saturday eve photos - Paul Freegard

 

A gentle morning stroll along the seafront from Les Boucholeurs to Châtelaillon, then mocktails, lunch by the Casino and a refreshing thé à la menthe in a lovely little tea shop on the route of the parade set us up perfectly to enjoy the festivities on a sunny Sunday afternoon. 

fete de la musique 2

The stalls from Saturday, loaded onto floats, a marching band, troupes of dancers of all ages and classic vehicles jigged, played and sang their way joyously through the centre of town to bring the weekend's celebrations to a close. This little guitar player was my personal favourite!

 He's the Guitar man!

He's the Guitar man!

Châtelaillon is a delightful little resort, just 45 minutes' drive from Rue Vincent and hosts a variety of popular events through the year including the famous kite festival at Easter, which has become an annual 'must-see' for our family and visitors. I suspect that Châtel en Fête will now be compulsory, too!

 

Feeling Festive at le Château de Crazannes

Crazannes Marché de Noel 2016

Trees are bare and nights are longer but the sun is beating down on this late November weekend here at Rue Vincent: a perfect opportunity yesterday for a leisurely stroll in a gorgeous location with a spot of Christmas shopping. Cue a lovely late afternoon and early evening at the nearby Château de Crazannes for the extremely popular Marché de Noël.

Crazannes festive collage

 

Against the gorgeous backdrop of the château grounds, thousands of fairy lights sparkled and children marvelled at twinkling displays, queueing patiently to see Père Noël or make their very own tree decoration. Meanwhile adults busied themselves with smart-phones and cameras aloft to record their offspring and the scenery, or browsed the wares of dozens of local artisans. Happy snappers everywhere, both inside the magnificent buildings and out, where the intoxicating aromas of crêpes, candyfloss, sausages and mulled wine drew a steady stream of visitors to the buvette.

Warmed by more than whiff of festive cheer and a nip of vin chaud*, it's one of many such markets across the region. The whole market is on again today if you are in the area and is well worth a visit. The lights and decorations will remain in place until 31st December - take your camera! For more information, visit the Château website.

Scenes such as these will be repeated across the country in the run up to Christmas, so plenty of opportunities to join in the fun if you didn't get to Crazannes this weekend.  For details of regional festive markets and those further afield, take a look at Noel.org


*Fancy a glass of vin chaud Charentais-style, to warm your cockles this winter?

 Image by clementpetit2 - Creative Commons  licence

Image by clementpetit2 - Creative Commons licence

For 6 glasses you will need:

  • a bottle of red wine (a Charentais VDP is ideal but any fruity red works well)
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • the zest of half an orange (a strip of peel or grated zest is fine)
  • 1-3 tablespoons sugar (according to taste)
  • 2 star anise
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 60ml Cognac (optional)

Method

Put all the ingredients (except the Cognac) into a large saucepan and warm gently over a low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Heat until the wine begins to steam when a spoonful is lifted from the pan, but do not allow it to boil! For added spiciness, turn off the heat and cover the pan before allowing the wine to steep for at least 15 minutes. Re-heat to the desired temperature before serving.

To serve, divide the cognac (if using) evenly between 6 heat-proof glasses. Strain the wine through a fine sieve/muslin or a tea strainer then ladle into the glasses and add a slice of orange or a cinnamon stick if liked.

Santé!

 

 

 

 

Sunsets and Souvenirs of Summer 2016

Late September and the sun is setting on another glorious summer here at Rue Vincent. As we pack away the parasols and stack the woodpile ready for longer winter evenings, it's the perfect time to look back over the season and to say thank you to all our guests. It has been our pleasure to host each and every one of you and we sincerely hope to welcome you back soon.

sunset on Le Vincent

So here we go with our trip down memory lane for 2016. Morning birdsong, peals of laughter from the swimming pool as swifts dive gracefully overhead; the satisfying click of a well-timed shot in the games barn; the whizz and excitement of a passing cycle race; the gentle chink of rosé-laden wineglasses signalling apéro time; the scent and sizzle of the barbecue, fired up to round off a busy day's holiday-making; clear night skies teeming with a million stars... Sights, sounds, smells and souvenirs of a summer to remember. It has been a real privilege to have shared them all with so many lovely visitors. We only wish we had more photos!

 

Whether it was a game of football on the field, a splash about at poolside or copious amounts of extra fuss, Indie and Jazz have thoroughly enjoyed their summer too, as well as the chance to make lots more friends, both two and four-legged. Dogs & kisses to you all from two very happy collies!

Summer may be over for this year, but Rue Vincent will be welcoming new guests from May 2017 and bookings are now open. If you would like to join in the fun, why not take a look at our availability and reserve your stay with us today.

 

We would be delighted to welcome you!

Salut septembre!

August has flown by in a blaze of summer sun and September is upon us already. Our much-loved canopy of stars is appearing ever sooner as pink-tinged sunsets give way to inky night skies; and while day-times are still balmy, a few of our early mornings are beginning to arrive through the misty haze that heralds the onset of Autumn.

The swimming pool and games barn still buzz with activity as our late summer guests make the most of the glorious sunshine, less-crowded attractions and quieter travel options at this time of the year.  Jazz and Indie remain, as always, on duty to play football on the games field with anyone who enjoys a kick about; although some of those things that mark the changing of the season are also beginning to grab their attention.

Already, a crunchy orange carpet sits beneath the horse chestnut trees: a great place for Jazz to explore before we rake up the leaves and add them to the compost heap.  'Woodstock' has commenced: the first delivery of this year's fuel has arrived and will require an age to sort and stack. However, the heady perfume of rough-hewn oak, (off-cuts from a local cognac barrel maker) mingled with the scent of our newly-cropped lavender hedge, makes it much less of a chore. Both Jazz and Indie have been doing their best to 'help': Indie by dragging the largest pieces she can find off into the orchard; and Jazz by taste-testing and pulping some of the smaller chunks. Even Charlie, our friend's miniature schnauzer, wants to be a part of the action. This could take some time!

operation woodstock.jpg

 

Summer may be drawing to a close at Rue Vincent, but we are now taking bookings for 2017.

Take a look at our availability and book your stay with us here today.

We 'wood' be delighted to welcome you!

Donjon and Dragons in Niort

A little cloud cover here today with a welcome drop in temperature, so a perfect opportunity to take a short hop northwards across the border into the department of Deux Sèvres for a spot of shopping and lunch in Niort.

  Le Donjon, dizzymissytrolly - Creative Commons  licence

Le Donjon, dizzymissytrolly - Creative Commons licence

Dominated by its medieval castle, Le Donjon, and bordered by the river which bears its name (La Sèvre Niortaise), Niort is an eclectic mix of old and new architecture, with a partly-pedestrianised shopping area and a fabulous, glass-fronted market hall.

Four enormous brass dragons, undulate in pairs from the top of the cobbled streets of Rue Ricard and Rue du Temple, marking the gateway to the town centre. Originally erected in 1992 in homage to an ancient legend, they are an imposing focal point and much admired by visitors to this pretty town.

The river is criss-crossed by beautiful stone road bridges as well as a network of smaller, ironwork pedestrian ones, giving access to the modern médiathèque building in addition to some half-hidden shaded seating areas, fringed with fragrant climbing plants and situated right on the waterfront. Further along the river, a gurgling weir cascades beside a picturesque stone tower, begging to be captured by an enthusiastic artist (just out of shot) as well as our camera. What a splendid place for an al-fresco lunch!

A gentle stroll onwards along the far bank of the river reveals another hidden gem for those who have not purchased a sandwich or brought a picnic. The restaurant Les Planches, with its large and shady terrace is full to bursting even on a Monday late into August. It is easy to see why as platters of delicious lunchtime fare make their way to wooden tables of eager diners. Nothing for it but to join them!

After a sumptuous feast comprising salade de chèvre chaud, a mouthwatering signature burger-frïtes accompanied by a crisp glass of chilled rosé and rounded off with a delicious café gourmand, an afternoon browse around the town is not only a delight but a necessity in order to expend a few calories!

Plenty of independent retailers to visit as well as larger chains and Galéries Lafayette. A particular favourite is a chocolatérie; its windows filled with inviting displays of sugared almond favours and all manner of delights made from one of the town's famous delicacies: angelica. Regrettably, having eaten so well already, it will require a second visit to tempt us inside, but it has been a truly lovely day.

Merci Niort - à la prochaine!

 

Staying Cool in the Canicule

It's late August and as children and their parents everywhere are preparing for la rentrée, the mercury has soared again into the high 30s prompting a rush for water, both for drinking and to swim in.  The pool here at Rue Vincent is a welcome haven for our guests from the crack of dawn to beyond nightfall, while the beautiful sandy beaches of Charente-Maritime are jam-packed with parasols and people in search of a gentle breeze and a refreshing dip in the ocean. But where do savvy locals go to cool off?

Luckily,  there's plenty of choice nearby: the River Boutonne at Antezant la Chapelle (a short cycle ride away), the River Charente at Port d'Envaux and the Plan d'Eau in St Jean d'Angély are all wonderful places for waterside fun and easily accessible from Rue Vincent. Yesterday's heat simply begged us to bathe, so we opted for the Base de Loisirs at Thors, just twenty minutes' drive away.  A gorgeous lake, fringed with water mint,  shaded by trees and dotted with picnic benches; there is a shallow, sandy beach area for supervised swimming in the cooling waters, pedalo hire in high season, a snack bar/restaurant, boules pitch, crazy golf and a children's play park.

 A good book, a sun brolly and a bracing swim: what a lovely way to chill on a sultry summer afternoon!

 

 

 

 

Browsers, Deals and Classic Wheels

Glorious sunshine on this holiday Monday; perfect for that most French of pastimes: a trip out to people-watch and browse at a local brocante. A short car ride east through perfectly-manicured parcels of cognac vines to the pretty Charentais village of Fouqueure is the order of the day.

 

Winding lanes, flanked by old stone houses are adorned with jaunty rows of parasols and makeshift tables groaning with local produce, bric-a-brac, hidden gems and ramshackle items of furniture all begging for a new owner or a makeover. Treasures unearthed are carried aloft or balanced precariously on bicycles and pushchairs. One little boy's toothy grin as he clutches a huge red fire engine, bought with his pocket money, brings a smile to our faces, too.

P1020625.JPG

The appetising smell of french fries and the sizzle of barbecued sausages draws crowds of hungry bargain hunters to a pop-up eaterie and bar, shaded by walnut trees. Beneath the canopy of branches, a stage is set for a band to entertain the throngs later in the day. For now, the band members are conversing over a sandwich-frîtes - it is 13h00 after all!  A relaxed lunch with an ice-cold beer or a cuppa is indeed a delight on such a sweltering day, but the highlight for many visitors today lies beyond the stalls, the food and the music.

 

Announcing its arrival with a cacophony of claxons, horns and humming engines, a steady stream of classic cars makes its way uphill into a field on the edge of proceedings to join an impressive display of agricultural vehicles from a bygone age.  2CVs, Morgans, a Bugatti, an Aston Martin and just about everything in between, offering photo opportunities galore and an added attraction for those who prefer cars to shopping! Fun to be had for all the family.

Brocantes are held across the country throughout the spring and summer months. Find out what's on nearby when you're visiting us at the Brocabrac website. You may just bag a bargain! For more information about classic car rallies, exhibitions and events, including the famous annual Circuit des Remparts road race weekend at Angoulême in September, see Retrocalage's Poitou-Charentes page here.

Happy holidays from Rue Vincent!

 

 

Stepping Back to the Middle Ages at Crazannes

Here in Charente-Maritime we are blessed with a landscape traversed by tranquil waterways and dotted with a number of stunning Renaissance châteaux.  Nestled close to the banks of the river Charente, Le Château de Crazannes is a beautiful example and well worth a visit. Every August it plays host to a weekend festival celebrating the life, customs and pastimes of the Middle Ages. The pop-up medieval village of colourful tents, complete with blacksmiths, spinners, weavers, musicians and all manner of artisans delighted large numbers of locals and holidaymakers alike last weekend.

Basking under cloudless skies, armoured knights with swords, shields and helmets fought bravely as they played to an enthusiastic and partisan crowd. Thrilled by the combat, surprised at the sheer volume of medieval gunfire and amused by the antics of the teams playing an early form of hockey; it was a great afternoon out. Another one for the calendar next year!

Le Château de Crazannes is one of a number of beautiful Charentais castles within easy reach of Rue Vincent. For more information and other wonderful places to visit during your stay, take a look at our Out and About pages.

Bonnes vacances!