Family Attractions In the Charente-Maritime
Your Bel-Air holiday retreat is perfectly located in the beautiful Charente-Maritime and surrounded by a wide variety of exciting, fascinating attractions suitable for all ages. We’ve put together a list of 10 of the Top Family Attractions in the area, but there are so many nearby your problem will be finding time to fit them all in.
The Bel-Air child-friendly gîtes complex is situated in the pretty commune of Brie-sous-Mortagne, approximately 7 kms from the market town of Gémozac . The town has 3 supermarkets and a good variety of other shops for all your daily needs. The 11th century church of St. Peter Gémozac is a listed building and one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches of Saintonge kind. A weekly local produce market in the town offers visitors the chance to taste the specialities of the region. And the monthly fair, every 3rd Friday, brings together the whole town as a meeting place. Gémozac also boasts its own racecourse with races held there annually at the beginning of the summer.
Going in the opposite direction from Bel-Air for the same distance, you will come across the old port of Mortagne-sur-Gironde, with traditional quayside restaurants and wonderful views across the Gironde river.
The following list of family attractions has been put together in no particular order. If you want to know more about any of these attractions the website link is provided. Or you can contact us for more details.
1. La Palmyre Zoo
Only 40 mins drive from Bel-Air Gites. Right in the heart of one of the most beautiful pine forests in the area, just north of Royan, you will find La Palmyre Zoo. The most famous zoological park in France, recently voted European Zoo of the Year, it’s also one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Charente-Maritime.
As a breeding zoo it’s very different from most people’s idea of a zoo as many animals are completely free to roam – and there are more than 1600 of them! The zoo also plays an important role in the conservation of endangered species, scientific research and environmental education.
Here you will meet apes, bears, cockatoos, crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, hippopotamuses, jaguars, lions, panthers, parrots, pink flamingos, red ibis and even wolves! The Ape Space is home to 2 groups of chimpanzees, a group of orangutans and 5 gorillas in a 3 hectare site.
Opening hours and admission prices can be found on its website – La Palmyre Zoo, near Royan
2. Aquarium at La Rochelle
Located in the heart of town, next to the old harbour and the famous towers of La Rochelle, you will discover one of the main European private aquariums. Take a two hour journey into the depths of the oceans and meet 12 000 Atlantic, Mediterranean and Tropical animals in 3 million litres of water. Explore the magical and mysterious underwater world that keeps fascinating us.
The beautiful harbour town of La Rochelle is about 1 hr 10 mins from Bel-Air . It’s historic port, traditional quayside restaurants and cobbled streets, not to mention the indoor and street markets, are well worth a day out. For places to visit in La Rochelle the Michelin Visitors Guide is extremely useful.
Opening hours and admission prices for the Aquarium can be found on its website – Aquarium at La Rochelle
3. Chateau des Egnimes
All for one an one for all! At last a château visit which the whole family will enjoy. The Château des Énigmes, at Pons have a treasure hunt that is great fun for kids and adults alike.
Solve the musketeer-themed puzzles in the castle through a series of games that include fishing for corks, recognising the smell of a aromatic plants and solving the mystery of the Templar Code. The challenges are diverse, imaginative, large-scale and well constructed. There’s a nice little cafe for a break half way through too. And it’s only a 20 minute drive from Bel-Air gites
Opening hours and admission prices can be found on its website – Château des Énigmes, at Pons
4. Port Minature-Saint-Savinien
All Aboard! The miniature port of Saint-Savinien has a ‘fleet’ of hand-crafted, motorised boats. Budding sailors can navigate the boats on the lake and along the miniature canals passing a boat wash-house, a fisherman’s cottage, a Japanese bridge. Radars, a lighthouse and a light ship guide them around a dredger, barge and various other ocean perils. This water attraction is for children. Adults board only to accompany the young sailors.
Opening hours and admission prices can be found on its website – Port Minature – Saint-Savinien
5. Saint Georges de Didonne Beach
The beautiful sandy beach of Saint Georges de Didonne is just a 20 minute drive from Bel-Air gites. This long sandy beach is almost 3 kilometres long, edged by a pine forest and has a wide range of activities on offer. With sailing taking pride of place, the commune is a classified station voile (sailing centre) and also the regional capital of sand-karting.
For the keen golfer, there are several courses in the area at Royan, Saintes, La Rochelle and Cognac. Three of these are 18-hole – the Prée Golf Course at La Rochelle, the Maine Gaudin course at Saint-Palais, near Royan and the Louis Rouyer course at Saintes. They combine various technical aspects with something to please players of all levels. See the following websites details.
The region is great for cyclists of all ages and abilities, with over 2500 km of mostly flat cycle paths there is something for everyone. Cyclists in the Charente-Maritime can enjoy bike rides along miles of golden white beaches, across vibrant marshlands, through traditional French villages or beautiful countryside scattered with vineyards. As the Charente-Maritime is in the second ‘sunniest’ region of France with very low rainfall, you can enjoy cycling without worrying about bad weather.
Bikes can be hired from www.bikehiredirect.com who provide a brilliant, efficient service that’s highly recommended by our guests. Excellent, well maintained bikes are dropped off at your gite with bike helmets and repair kits.
8. Cognac Tours
The beautiful town of Cognac, with its narrow medieval cobbled streets and elegant Renaissance facades, is only 40 minutes drive away. World famous firms such as Camus, Hennessy, Niartell, Otard, Prince Hubert de Polignac, Rémy-Martin, Courvoisier, and Renault-Bisquit are located here; each distillery has its own secret and unique process for mixing the various blends of their eaux-de-vie.
The Hennessey tour is the one most recommended by our guests but others are available and we have provided links to the various websites for you to find your favourite.
A less well known cognac is Chateau de Beaulon, only 15 mins from Bel Air Gites
Bordeaux is only an hour from Bel Air Gites. It is no surprise it has been voted the ‘Best European Destination’. It is a beautiful city which is world famous for its wines and wonderful architecture. Bordeaux is the most famous wine region in the world. Most visitors come to the city and the surrounding area to tour the chateaux, taste the world-class wines and indulge in the regional cuisine. The city is also known for its excellent museums, cafes, restaurants and vibrant nightlife. Wide avenues, neoclassical architecture and well-tended parks give the city a certain 18th-century grandeur. Bordeaux has around 500 chateaux, or vineyards and there is an abundance of tours you can go on, as well as other site-seeing trips. See the Bordeaux website for details
Bel-Air is approx. 1 hr 50 mins from Futuroscope but it is well worth a visit.
The Futuroscope amusement park is located near Poitiers and set in 130 acres. It uses audio-visual technology to create both breathtaking and informative special effects. Giant screens, 3D cinemas, circular cinemas and other state-of-the-art techniques create an experience unlike any other. The park has splendid buildings with futuristic architecture and also relaxing green parks surrounding each of the pavilions.
Both children and adults will enjoy Futuroscope but allow plenty of time to see all the attractions
And if that isn’t enough, then visit the Charente-Maritime tourism website where there is an extensive list of activities and attractions for you to browse.
Or Contact us if you would like to know more.