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Tuesday 26 July 2011

Review for the Pressoir & Pigeonnier June

Sat 25th June to 9 July 2011

Our Gites at Landrais.

We originally chose these gites at landrais because they were in the countryside but close to the larger towns in the Charente Maritime region of France. Particularly La Rochelle, Rochefort, St Jean D'Angely and Surgeres. The main aim of the trip was to have a holiday in the region where my seventh greatgrandfather was born (St Savinien) and where his family traded as merchants (La Rochelle). Upon closer inspection of the documents I have, many of the smaller communes in the area are also mentioned.

Having booked and sent our deposit we decided to ring and introduce ourselves and ask a couple of questions. Susanne was particularly helpful with the car hire in La Rochelle which greatly helped us to book Train times and the actual car.

We booked the Pigionnier and the Pressoir for ourselves and the other Australian couple we were traveling with. So we could have privacy as well as companionship.

Each Gite was beautifully restored by the owners from ruins which they had bought 8 years ago. The exterior were traditional Charentaise and the insides were beautifully but simply decorated and furnished. The Kitchen was well appointed and there was a washing machine and ironing board as well as the necessary utensils to cook for a family. All well thought out and planned.

The Gites are just outside the sleepy village/town of Landrais, which has a shop, a Bar (Cafe Escargot) and a Traditional French Restaurant called Le Bateau Lavoir. Le Bateau serves a traditional Charentaise menu for a fixed price. In June 2011 this was 29 Euros. Or about 37 Australian Dollars each, it included wine and a beautiful apperatif made from peaches and one from strawberries (Vin Peche and Vin Fraise). Rose and red wine were also served with the meal which consisted of three courses.No one minded if you didn't eat the Snails (escargots) which were in fact rather bland!

Landrais is within walking distance as is the lake in Landrais and another small village near the lake.

The Gites themselves are set in the wheat fields outside of Landrais and there are plenty of Holly hocks for the bees to gather the pollen from. Each gite has an outdoor area to sit in and there is a large swimming pool for the really hot days. As well as a charcoal BBQ if you want to cook outside.

Shopping for groceries in Surgeres is 10 mins away in the Car and was competitively priced.

Around Landrais there are many sleepy villages which have spectacular churches, some dating from the 12th century. They are well worth a drive around.

In the major centre of La Rochelle, one finds a beautiful seaport which leads to the spectacular Isle de Re as well as boat trips out of the bay to to other adjacent islands and forts. The two forts guarding the harbour entrance are spectacular as well.

Along the harbour there are many reasonably priced restaurants and bars, with seafood a speciality.

The car trip to La Rochelle is 35 mins tops and the car parking for the day cost us 2.90 Euros as well as Electric bus to the city centre return.

Near to La Rochelle is the seaside resort of Chataillon Plage, a beautiful seaside town to the South. For those beach lovers a must.

Further South in the town of Rochefort (sans Fromage) is the historic port where the French Royal Navy constructed their fleet to sally forth to engage with the English Royal Navy. Presently they are building a full sized replica of a French Frigate named the Hermonie, which will be launched later in this decade and sailed to the sea. Nearby the dry dock is the rope making factory, a huge building where all the ropes for the naval ships were manufactured. Both well worth a visit.

There are other Historical centres such as Niort, Where king Richard the Lionheart of England was held prisoner at ransom and Cognac where the famous Brandy is made.

So the Gites at La Metairie de Monlieu,are idealy situated to Sally forth to see the sites of the Charente- Maritime region of France, and they are a peaceful retreat from a hectic day of site seeing.

During the week the Hosts, Susanne and Nigel have informal drinks and nibbles by the pool to greet their Guests. Suzanne produces a delicious cake and Nigel a delicious bottle of Wine.

The Location is ideal for the family with children, couples and any age would feel comfortable here. A car is essential, but there is little traffic and after a day or two you will get used to the different driving rules.

We spent two comfortable weeks at Le Metairie de Monlieu and we will definitely be back. Thank you for you hospitality Susanne and Nigel.

Vince & Sandra
Melbourne, Australia

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