La Vendange Child Friendly Gites: Frequently Asked Questions


For Families

Q. What is the idea behind La Vendange ?

La Vendange has been set up to be an ideal holiday base for families with children aged around 12 and under.

There is plenty to do on site and of lots of interesting and fun places to visit in the local area. The former fortified farm setup means that the main lawn and playground are completly enclosed, so children can run around and play within sight, while the adults put their feet up with a book and a cup of tea, (or a chilled glass of the local "pineau")!

Q. I like the idea of our children meeting others their own age - what is the average age of children at La Vendange?

Outside school holidays (June and September ) the average age of children in 2015 was approx. 3.1

During school holidays (July and Aug) the average age of children in 2015 was approx 6.7

We would suggest that families with children aged 12 and under are most suited to the layout and facilities on site.

Q. We've stayed in gites before and usually have to pay a security deposit. Why don't you charge one ?

We want our guests to relax and have fun on their holidays. Our gîtes are set up to be pretty child proof. We try to provide cleanliness and comfort without the need to fill the places with antiques, high-tech equipment and precious breakable knick-knacks (as are often found in "luxury" gites). 'Terrible-twos' toddlers will find lower shelves and cupboards mostly empty and so will (hopefully) occupy themselves with the supplied box of toys instead !

Q. We're a bit nervous about travelling while my wife is pregnant. What are the medical facilities like in the area ?

The GPs and hospitals in Charente-Maritime are really excellent. As well as the usual emergency numbers, we include contact phone numbers for several local english speaking doctors (including the local paediatrician) in the information folders and you can usually get to see one at short notice. There is a late night rota system between the local pharmacies. The nearest A&E is 20 mins drive away in St. Jean D'Angely. Hospitals in France are well staffed and queues are unusual at the A&E. Most medical expenses incurred in France can be reclaimed using the European Health Card (formerly E111).


Q. We like to spend time at the beach - how far is La Vendange from the coast ?

La Vendange is positioned on the edge of a small, historic village in the picturesque and rural Nie Valley , right in the middle of the "sunflower belt" of coastal Charente-Maritime.

Most of our guests take trips out to the local beaches, as most of the best can be reached within about an hour, but we're far enough away from the busy coastal strip for our guests to get the lovely "away from it all" feeling associated with being located in one of the most tranquil parts of rural France.

The most interesting countryside, local produce markets, historic and picturesque villages, churches, roman ruins, water and wildlife parks are mainly located in our own "Saintonge" area of Poitou-Charentes.

For those interested in seeing a variety of things on their holidays, there is one great advantage in being based a little inland: A circle of radius 75km (approx 1hr drive) drawn around La Vendange, will cover many of the best beaches in the region, but will also cover twice as many inland attractions as the same circle drawn around a coastal resort (which will be 50% ocean ) !

Q. Our family is keen on horse riding. Can we hire horses in the area ?

There are several good riding schools nearby. The nearest is "La Bride" about 10mins away near Aulnay. Both horses and ponies for young children are available.

Q. What is included in the quoted rental price ? The following are included: All taxes, services: (water, gas, electricity). Initial bed linen, hand and bath towels are also included (beds are made up on the morning of your arrival). In the family friendly kitchens: dishwasher powder, dishwasher salt, rinçage and washing up liquid are all supplied and stored high up out of reach of children. All cleaning products, rolls of bin liners (for all bins) and recycling bags are also provided. We leave one full toilet roll, hand soap, fresh bath and hand towels in each bathroom. There is a CD player in each cottage (supports WMA/MP3 and USB). Cots, highchairs and all other baby/toddler equipment are always free of charge though some items need to be ordered in advance. (Click here for details).

Q. What is NOT included in the rental price ? The following can be ordered as extras: beach towels, end of stay cleaning service, babysitting. Guided vine walks and wine tasting courses. (Click here for details on extras prices etc).

Q. Where do I get bread, croissants, groceries etc ? The nearest Boulangerie is about 5mins drive or a lovely 20min cycle ride through the sunflower fields to the next village. We provide two good quality adult bikes on site FOC for the use of our guests, both with baby/toddler seats. The nearest supermarkets are in Matha and Aulnay (10 mins drive), or St. Jean D'Angely (15mins). The nearest hypermarkets are Auchan in Cognac (25mins) or Carrefour in Saintes (30mins).

Q. Where are the nearest pubs and restaurants ? There is a good pub/restaurant a few mins drive away in Néré. Matha, Aulnay and St. Jean D'Angely all have a good selection of pubs and restaurants. A comprehensive local restaurant guide is included in the information folders found in the cottages.

Q. What will the weather be like ? Charente-Maritime receives more sunshine than any other part of France except Provence . Generally speaking the weather is fine and warm during the Summer months , normally we would expect about half that number (mostly dramatic thunderstorms) spread over the 20 week period and lots and lots of sunny days.

Recycling and other green issues

Q. How much recycling is done at La Vendange ? We recycle pretty much everything ! Newspapers and magazines go into blue sacks, plastic and cartons into yellow sacks, glass goes into the black bins and most food waste can be fed to the chickens (to be recycled into eggs) ! The blue and yellow sacks are collected every week to be taken to the recycling centre in Cognac . Plastic is recycled into bottles and uPVC window frames and cardboard is mostly turned into low grade pulp for use in the manufacture of things like egg boxes and packaging.

Q. How environmentally friendly is La Vendange ?

Heating and cooling. Our swimming pool is heated using solar panels ( the South-facing roof of the car park hanger was designed to double up as a platform for solar energy and we have a total of about 32m2 of panels, generating a total of 320,000 BTUs of heat ). Heating and cooling is not usually necessary in the gites as the 2 feet thick stone walls do a marvellous job of keeping the interiors at an equable temperature. For heat waves, low energy ceiling and floor fans provide adequate cooling.

Lighting and electricity. We aim to have all the lighting on site use low energy bulbs ( mostly compact fluorescent with super-low energy l.e.d clusters for mood lighting and bedside lamps ). We use AAA rated electrical appliances in order to help minimize electricity usage. In addition, only 8% of the electricity we use is generated using fossil fuels, which gives La Vendange a very low carbon footprint overall. The owners of La Vendange have an ongoing commitment to renewable energy and are planning on installing both solar hot water systems and PV panels in the future.

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