Our Top 10 List

Bel Air is situated in the commune of Brie-sous-Mortagne We are approximately 7km from the market town of Gémozac which has 3 supermarkets and a good variety of other shops for all daily needs. Gémozac has a large market every 3rd Friday in the month and a fish, meat and vegetable market on Friday of each week.
Taking the opposite direction out of Bel – Air for the same distance, you will find the old port of Mortagne with its quayside restaurants and lovely views across the Gironde river.

Your holiday retreat is very centrally located for many interesting and fascinating attractions in this beautiful region :

The list is in no particular order.

  1. La Palmyre Zoo

    giraffe-Zoo La Palmyre


Right in the heart of one of the most beautiful pine forests in the area just north of Royan just 35 mins drive away, you will find La Palmyre Zoo. The most famous zoological park in France and recently voted European Zoo of the Year.  The most visited tourist attraction in the department of Charente-Maritime. And, as a breeding zoo it is 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!

You will meet apes, bears, cockatoos, crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, hippotamuses, jaguars, lions, panthers, parrots, pink flamingos, red ibis and even wolves. There is a polar bear basin a tropical greenhouse and a reptile house.  The shows with trained parrots and sea lions are great for the kids.

The zoo is located about 40 minutes drive from Bel Air Gites


2. Aquarium at La Rochelle

aquarium La rochelle


Located in the heart of town, next to the old harbour and the famous towers of La Rochelle, discover one of the main european private aquariums. Take a two hour’s 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 La Rochelle is about 1 hr 10 mins from BelAir . It’s historic port, many quayside restaurants and cobbled streets not to mention the indoor market, make it well worth the trip.


3. Chateau Egnimes



All for one , One for all- At last a château visit which the whole family will enjoy !

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 21 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. Nice little cafe for a break half way through, too.

Only a 20 minute drive from your gite at Bel Air

It is open daily from 4th April to 1st November,  from 10am to 7pm (8pm in July and August).
Adult (over 12 yrs) : 14 €
Child ( 4 to 12 ) : 11 €
Under 4 yrs: Free


4. Port Minature-Saint-Savinien



All aboard!

The Miniature port of Saint-Savinien has  A ‘fleet’ of hand crafted, electric  boats. Children can choose from Mississippi steam boats, tugs, river pushing tugs, a trawler, a cargo ship, a sardine fishing boat or a ferry. 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, a refloating barge and various other ocean perils.
Open Sundays and bank holidays from April to September and every day in July and August from 2 pm to 6 pm.



5. Saint Georges de Didonne Beach



The beautiful sandy  beach of Saint Georges de Didonne is just a 20 minute drive away. This long  sandy beach is close to 3 kilometres long, edged by a pine forest, a wide range of activities are on offer here. With sailing taking pride of place, the commune is a classified station voile (sailing centre). The beach of Saint-Georges-de-Didonne is also the regional capital of sand-karting.  The tree top assault course (Accrobranche) is also a popular activity here. It is well run and safety harnesses are provided.





There are golf courses at Royan, Saintes , La Rochelle and Cognac

There are three 18-hole golf courses in Charente-Maritime. The Prée Golf Course at La Rochelle, the Maine Gaudin course near Royan, at Saint-Palais and the Louis Rouyer course at Saintes. These three courses combine varied technical aspects with something to please players of all levels, delightful surroundings, views over the sea, forested sections, unspoilt countryside and outstanding facilities.






7. Cycling


The region is great for cyclists of all ages and abilities and 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 and 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 in France with very low rainfall you can enjoy cycling without having to worry about bad weather!

Bicycles can be hired from www.bikehiredirect.com , Chris who deals with the Charente Maritime provides a brilliant, efficient service.  Excellent, well maintained bikes are dropped to the door of your gite with helmets and repair kits.


8. Cognac Tours



Cognac, the town is a short 40 minute drive away. Cognac is an attractive town with its narrow medieval cobbled streets and elegant Renaissance facades. It is here that the fabled nectar has been created since the 17th century and that the very air one breathes is permeated by the heavy scent of spirits evaporating from oak casks held in storage. 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 its eaux-de-vie.

The Hennessey  tour is most recomended by our guests, reasonable, hands on and includes a boat trip.  http://www.hennessy.com/us/maison/visit/

The others are




A less well known but local house is  Chateau Beaulon, only 15 mins from Bel Air Gites



9. Bordeaux



Bordeaux voted ‘Best European Destination 2015’

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 its surrounds 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 and restaurants and vibrant nightlife. Wide avenues, neoclassical architecture and well-tended parks all give the city a certain 18th-century grandeur. Bordeaux has around 500 chateaux, or vineyards. There are two key areas of attraction, the Medoc and St Emilion. Firstly the  Médoc, a large wine-growing area which lies northwest of Bordeaux, along the western shore of the Gironde Estuary. This is easily accessible by car ferry  from Blaye, or from Royan .


10. Futuroscope

futuroscope aerobar


Bel-Air is approx. 1hr 50 mins from Futuroscope but it is well worth a visit. It is open from 10am and closes at 11 pm.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 exhibits.