Go wild at Zoodyssee

The emphasis at Zoodysee is on conservation.

If there is one thing that visitors to the Zoodysee park comment on the most it’s the park’s commitment to conservation. And the reintroduction of endangered species back into their natural habitats.

Located in the Deux-Sevres department, in the Forest of Chizé, this amazing park is home to over 800 animals. It’s just over an hour’s drive from Bel-Air Gites and it’s well worth a day out. In fact, you only have to read the reviews on TripAdvisor to see that it’s one of the area’s top family attractions.

The Enchanted Village

This year they have opened the new Enchanted Village playground, with games and equipment suitable for children from 1 year upwards. With lots of slides, distorting mirrors, climbing walls, and swings. In addition, the park’s owners have put a lot of effort into ensuring that the playground is accessible for everyone.

Because the park is in the forest it means that even in the summer, it’s lovely and cool in the shade of the trees. So, that’s good for you, good for the kids, and ultimately, good for the animals too. Get up close and personal with some of the animals, and take part in lots more family-orientated activities.

Snowy owl

Safety conscious

If you don’t fancy walking why not ride in a horse-drawn carriage? Or watch the various animal shows presented every day from 11 am? The animals taking part include bears, otters, bustards, deer, wolves, and vultures! And every Monday afternoon, park rangers explain to visitors all about the science, environment and the future of Zoodyssee.

Check out the Zoodyssee website for prices, opening hours and safety procedures.

Book Bel-Air Gites For 2021

We happy to say that we are now taking bookings for next summer, but don’t miss out. Dates are booking up fast, and we’d love to see you at Bel-Air Gites. Child-friendly family accommodation in the Charente-Maritime.

International Dance Day

a man and a woman dancing

April 29th is International Dance Day

Social-distancing might stop some of us from physically grabbing a dance partner, but what is stopping us from doing a few moves of our own on International Dance Day?

So, imagine for a moment that you could dance with absolutely anyone, anywhere. Who and where would it be and what song would you choose to celebrate this special day?

Professional dancers, like the ones we see on Strictly Come Dancing, are energetic, flexible and make it look so easy. But I’m sure it takes a lot of dedication and hard-work – and dieting! – to stay on top of their game.

Watching toddlers and young children dancing can be just as entertaining though. Toddlers in particular, when they hear music on the TV, they just automatically begin to move and sway, totally mesmerised. It must be the same the world over, and since the beginning of time.

Let’s dance!

Today it’s even possible to take online dance classes. Sounds like a good idea if you are considering taking up dancing as a hobby, or as a way of socialising or keeping fit. Practising a few moves at home would certainly give you some encouragement and background knowledge before signing up.

The Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute created this day in 1982 to highlight the amazing diversity and talent of dancers all over the globe on April 29. It marks the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), creator of modern ballet.

From: nationaltoday.com

Wherever you are on the 29th April try and grab a few minutes to celebrate International Dance Day. Music and dancing is good for the soul and we could all do with letting our hair down now and again.

At Bel-Air Gites we’ll have the music playing while we carry on with the gardening and getting our gites ready. Surely painting in time to the music can be classed as dancing…

Keeping the kids entertained

Kids indoor activities – all free!

Playbarn kidscorner

When it’s raining and miserable outside, the last thing you need is young, miserable children inside. It’s not always possible to take them out anywhere, even when the weather is good. Instead of just plonking them down in front of the TV why not try some of these great FREE kids indoor activities?

Treasure Hunt

A great activity that could even have a dressing up theme – pirates, fairies, princes and princesses. Let them choose the theme and you write the clues. Try rhyming the clues for more fun. Put the clues in numbered sealed envelopes so that they can keep track of where they are up to. Each clue leads to the next one until they find the hidden treasure!

Make An Amazing Den

Just because they’re indoors doesn’t mean they can’t have a den or a tent. I used to love making a den with my siblings and making a great den actually takes a lot of skill. If you can make it as a surprise then better still. Make sure it’s roomy and maybe add a rug or a play-mat because you want this den to last a couple of days at least. Ideally use a few chairs, wide enough apart to make a good sized den, but not too wide that the blanket roof might collapse. A few pegs should help keep it in place.

Once you have built the den don’t forget the furnishings. These are vitally important and can be the difference between a great den and an AMAZING den that lasts for days. Add a few cars and trucks if there’s a play-mat, a little picnic hamper or a tea set, cushions for sitting or lying on.

And the best bit? Get in there with them and have some fun!

Pizza Party

This has the mutual benefit of the kids being creative and make their own meal. Find a simple online recipe for making a child-friendly pizza base or buy some of the ready-made bases so they can create their own toppings. If they have made it then they’re also more likely to eat it. And if the den is still standing why not have a pizza picnic inside?

Check out some great family friendly videos from Keith at ‘Jambon de Printemps’ baking with the kids

Bath Time Boats

Make boats for bath-time using empty plastic margarine of butter tubs. Then have fun in the bath racing the boats or loading them with different water-proof toys or figures, such as Lego, to see how much the boats can hold before they sink. Bath and playtime all rolled into one. 

We’ll share some more ideas with you very soon. How do you keep the kids entertained? And if you have any inexpensive, children’s indoor activities that you’d like to share with us, then just comment below.

We’d love to hear from you 

Family fun for Easter

Have some Easter Family Fun!

The Easter countdown has begun! If you are not quite sure what to do for Easter, don’t panic. And don’t let coronavirus spoil the fun. There’s still plenty of time to collect a few ideas for activities for the little ones, that all the family can join in. With clues to solve and tasks to complete, they’re guaranteed to keep the kids entertained (and stop them eating all the chocolate in one go!)

Easter Egg hunting

This can be a great indoor or outdoor activity, depending on the weather. There are a couple of options too. The ‘treasure’ could be an Easter egg or a small gift. The fun for the kids is taking part! Like treasure hunts you can create a few clues. They have to work out the clues to find their way to the treasure. If you have more than one child then you will need more than one set of clues and treasure for each one too. Or a bigger treasure trove that they can hunt for together!

Alternatively, hide lots of little Easter eggs or small, wrapped presents, such as pocket-sized colouring books, around the house and garden for them to find. Don’t make it too easy though.

They will love pretending to be explorers or pirates looking for lost treasure so let them make up their own fancy dress to make it even more fun!

Craft Ideas with CDs and DVDs

If you have any old CDs and DVDs there are lots of great things that the children can make with scratched discs and ones you don’t use anymore. You can use almost anything for decoration but for painting them, acrylic paint is best. And lots of glitter! With the shiny discs and bright, colourful glitter, buttons and beads these would make wonderful, shiny wind-chimes for the garden.

For some fantastic, inexpensive ideas, check out these cute shiny fish and 25 recycled cd kids crafts

Egg and Spoon Race

All you need is eggs, spoons and somewhere to run. And don’t forget a prize for the winner. Use hard-boiled eggs, chocolate eggs or even marshmallows. If there are smaller children involved, maybe use something to stick the eggs on so they don’t fall off straight away. For more games to play for different ages go to – Kids Activities.

There are so many games you could even have your own Easter Olympics!

Crispy Chocolate Easter Nests

white tray displaying crispy easter nest cakes

It wouldn’t be Easter without crispy Easter nests.

If you haven’t got rice krispies, cornflakes or shredded wheat lightly crushed are just as good. The amount of the cereal will vary depending on their size and texture, so add a little bit at first to get the right consistency. And if you have any cake-cases these are great for displaying the finished cakes in.


  • 1 cup rice krispies
  • 100 g chocolate
  • 30 g butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup or honey
  • veg or sunflower oil for brushing
  • mini chocolate eggs for decorating
  1. Melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water.
  2. Remove from the heat, add the rice krispies and syrup, then mix it all together.
  3. Lightly oil a 6 or 9 hole muffin tin, divide the warm mixture evenly, pressing gently with your fingers to make a bird’s nest.
  4. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  5. Use a knife to ease the chocolate nests out of the tin, then fill with chocolate eggs.

I hope this has given you a few ideas for Easter family fun, and some of these can be adapted to use any time of the year. But whatever you do this Easter, please remember to stay safe.

Happy Easter from Bel-Air Gites

If you have any crafting or games ideas for children of all ages, we would love to hear them. Just get in touch or comment below.

Mysterra Labyrinth world

Step into a unique labyrinth park in the forest

This stunning park is set in 11 hectares of pine forest at the edge of the Baron-Desqueyroux Lake in Montendre. Mysterra adventure park is less than an hour’s drive from Bel-Air Gites and it’s a fantastic family fun day out.

There is a wide selection of activities, 7 different labyrinths for various ages and capabilities, games and competitions. Or you can just stroll, take in the peace and quiet of nature and admire the works of art.

There are scenarios to play where you will have to search for clues and work out the signs so you can find your way out. And you can use your smartphone or tablet (with the park’s free Wi-Fi) to help solve the puzzles.

The heart of the Mysterra leisure park

Because the park is in a forest and walking amongst nature. you must wear full and comfortable footwear. You’re advised to take bottles of water, a sunhat and plenty of sun-cream. Some of the unusual and unique labyrinth games can take up to 2 hours so be prepared for an exciting, entertaining day out.

For more details about seasonal opening times and prices, as well as buying tickets online go to – Mysterra Official Website. Or check out the TripAdvisor reviews

Or to see some of our other recommendations you can view our Top 10 List. There are so many places to visit near Bel-Air Gites that you will want to come back year after year. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Cognac. Passionate about Music

camera shot at nightime blues festival

Simple Minds to perform at the Cognac Blues Festival 2020

As part of their world tour Simple Minds are playing at the Cognac Blues Festival. This incredible music festival in July 2020 has a great following. This year it’s on from 1st July to 5th July. And Bel-Air Gites is only a 40 minute drive away from this beautiful medieval town.. The Cognac Blues Festival takes place right in the town centre of the town. It’s in the public gardens and at various locations in and around Cognac.

La Fête du Cognac

If that isn’t enough to tempt you to bring the family to Bel-Air Gites how about ‘La Fête du Cognac’? This takes place at the Cognac marina from July 23rd to 25th. Definitely more for the grown-ups. As well as the Cognacs, you will discover Charentais wines, and the famous Pineau des Charentes. The evenings will be a voyage of local culinary discovery in a magical musical setting.


For more information about these events, including timetables, disabled access, parking, tickets, etc., check out the links below.

COGNAC BLUES PASSION FESTIVAL – 1st July to 05th July 2020

LA FÊTE DU COGNAC – ‘a discovery of music and flavours’ – 23rd July to 25th July 2020

And here’s a little taster from the Cognac Blues Festival 2019!

We still have gite accommodation available in July. Get in touch if you plan to attend one or both of these events.

Book Now and Book Direct for the best prices

Violins on the beach

The 33rd Edition of ‘Un violin sur la Sable‘ – July 2020 on the beautiful Grande Conche Beach at Royan.

Man playing the violin (image credit - Quino Al on Unsplash)
This spectacular event has been wowing audiences of all ages for many years and this year will be no exception. The dates for July 2020 are the 25th, 28th and 31st with the festivities commencing at 10 p.m.

Grande Conche beach at Royan becomes the most beautiful concert hall in the world with over 50,000 people every evening. Even if you don’t like classical music this is an enchanting concept, attended by people of all ages and backgrounds.

Imagine sitting on the sand, the sea in front of you, a star-filled sky above you, listening to classical music. It’s an incredible experience and it is happening right on our doorstep.

For your perfect family holiday, come to Bel-Air Gîtes, child-friendly gites in the Charente-Maritime.

The historic seaside town of Royan, with it’s long, sandy beaches, is only a 40 minute drive from Bel-Air Gîtes.

Grande Conche Beach is ideal for children with a special section offering a wide range of fun activities. So while they are being entertained you can sit back and relax. If you are feeling energetic, there are areas for windsurfing and sailing, plus facilities to hire equipment and take lessons. Lifeguards patrol the beach here making sure that you and your family stay safe.

If you prefer something a little less energetic then the beach has a wonderful promenade with views over the sea, a paved footpath and a separate cycle path.

There is ample free parking on the side streets close to the beach. So you and your family can make a whole day of it, creating memories that will last forever.

For more information about the Violin on the Sand event 2020 you can visit their Facebook Page or website.

Book Bel-Air Gites and book direct for the best prices!


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