Summer Holiday Escape

Escape on holiday – literally

escape on holiday grab a sale price
Image credit – Dan Burton Unsplash.com

Like most people, once Christmas is over then it’s sale time. Travel agents, ferry companies and budget airlines – you can grab some great deals for your favourite holiday destination if you act fast. And if you are staying at Bel-Air Gites you can literally plan to escape on holiday at The Escape Place. It’s only 10 minutes from our family gites complex and has been getting really good reviews.

Enter the heart of an enclosed, mysterious space and try to escape by finding the key to the puzzles.

The Escape Place is accessible to all, although it could be difficult for anyone with restricted mobility. With teams of 3 to 6 people (children and adults allowed) you have an hour to escape. Test your thinking skills and your team spirit in two unique indoor historical adventures! They also have quad bikes if you prefer an outdoor adventure, and these are available all-year round. The quad route takes you between vineyards and the estuary so the whole family can make some great memories.

Walk through the door, and live a unique historical experience in total immersion!

The Escape Place, Saint-Fort-sur-Gironde
escape on holiday on quad bikes
Escape on holiday on a quad bike!

Wonderful memories

You will need to check out the T&Cs on their website because there are some restrictions. But if you want to make some wonderful memories what better way to do it than with team work. There are three different adventures to choose from to test your thinking skills to solve all the clues. Will you be able to find the secret documents?

enigma machine

Relax and Unwind

After a hectic day solving puzzles or exploring the countryside, what better way to unwind than in the pool? Our large swimming pool at Bel-Air Gites is the perfect place to chill out. Grab a book, sit back and watch the kids playing in the water. Or join in the fun, and make the most of all the toys and games we provide. Everything is included so you can enjoy your holiday, and not have to bring it all with you.

We are confident that we have thought of everything, but if there is something you need, just get in touch. We will try and ensure that whatever you need is available exclusively for you for the length of your stay.

Escape on holiday to Bel-Air Gites this summer

Summer Events 2021

What’s on for Summer 2021

Continuing with our Bel-Air Gites and Charente-Maritime Events Diary, we are moving into the sensational summer months. There is always a fantastic and varied calendar of events for locals and visitors to the region from July to September. Adults and children of all ages will find something to entertain them in the Charente-Maritime.

Let’s get started

First up is July. The weather in the region is hot but not stifling. When you’re at Bel-Air if it gets too hot for you or the kids then you can take a cool dip in the pool, or step into our amazing play barn. If you are out and about then there are several indoor events that you might be interested in.

July in La Rochelle – a month of films, music and song. This historic port town plays host to several festivals in the summer. It’s buzzing with keen film-goers, musicians and singers. During the International Film Festival there is a high-quality programme of events, including some open-air screenings. It’s a gathering for films, filmmakers, actors, professionals, the press and the public.

If music is more your thing then check out the ‘Francofolies festival‘. The music programme runs for 5 days from Saturday 10th July to Wednesday 14th in a variety of open air concerts, churches and theatres. If you can’t make it next year, don’t worry. This festival has been running since 1984 and has a fantastic following.

Summer Events 2021 – La Rochelle Francofolies

French National Day

Celebrated everywhere in France on July 14th, outside of France it’s commonly known as Bastille Day. It was a little subdued in 2020, but we’re expecting bigger and better events for 2021, so don’t miss out. Celebrations take place in most towns in France, and dinners and military ceremonies during the day, and firework displays at night.


tour de france summer events 2021

Tour de France

Another major event impacted by COVID-19, Le Tour was postponed from July to late August in 2020. It will no doubt be the biggest of the summer events 2021 with an estimated 10 million spectators of all ages gather by the roadside to cheer on the racers. In 2020 some of the stages were right on the doorstep of Bel-Air Gites, but sadly we didn’t attend. Next year, stages 19 and 20 are the closest, about 90 minutes drive away at Libourne and Saint Emilion.

Book now for Summer 2021

So if you are planning your next family holiday look no further than Bel-Air family friendly gites in the Charente-Maritime. Get in touch now to check prices and availability because we are booking up fast. We look forward to welcoming you and your family and friends to Bel-Air Gites.

Banish Winter Blues. Think Sunshine and Bel-Air Gites

Banish the Winter Blues

forget the rain and think about the summer

If ever we needed a glass of mulled wine, twinkling lights on a Christmas tree and carol-singers on the doorstep, it would be now! Winter is finally upon us. There’s a definite drop in temperature, more rain, shorter days, and long dark nights. We are all feeling a little bit sluggish at Bel-Air Gites, so we have been looking at ways to banish the winter blues. And we are going to do this by looking and planning ahead.

Ready to hibernate

None of us can really justify hibernating for 4 months until springtime, so we will have to get active. We need to find ways to push through the ‘winter blues’, and not dwell on the events of 2020. Even though Christmas is just around the corner, we are looking ahead to the New Year more than ever before. Our plans for Christmas are all in hand so we will (hopefully) avoid unnecessary stress. Christmas dinner is all planned out, and the presents have been bought and wrapped. This year we might even find time to relax over the holidays, and read a book or watch a film.

Keep in touch

Not seeing loved ones can have a negative impact but thanks to modern technology it’s easy to stay in touch. Social time spent virtually with friends and family has helped remind us that people are thinking of us. And what better time to speak to people than over Christmas, especially as some people may still be self-isolating.

Planning ahead

One thing that works to banish the winter blues, for us anyway, is to start planning. The garden doesn’t need much work in the winter, but it doesn’t mean we can forget about it. So when we open our gates to guests next year it’s not just the gites that have to be in tip-top condition. It’s the gardens, pool and children’s play areas too. Because we would hate to disappoint any of our returning regulars and new guests. We have a few little changes in the pipeline as well, so make sure you keep a close eye on our website and Facebook page.

Think Sunshine and Bel-Air Gites

To help banish the winter blues and get you thinking about the summer sun, here’s a little reminder of what you can find in and around Bel-Air Gites.

Book now for 2021

Make 2021 the year to remember – for all the right reasons. A wonderful family holiday, making happy memories that will last a life-time.

Book Bel-Air Gites. Family-friendly holiday accommodation in the Charente-Maritime

Events in Royan 2021

Planning your summer holiday

Positive thinking?

Since the beginning of November we have been bombarded with Black Friday deals, Christmas sales and online shopping bargains. And they have all helped to take our mind off being in and out of confinement. But now, there is talk about vaccines, and spending time together over the holidays. People are beginning to sound a bit more positive, and some have even asked “are you planning your summer holiday yet?”

What’s on around Bel-Air

For so many businesses, including ours, 2020 meant putting life on hold. We have had several months when we weren’t allowed to open, and even when we did, it was with some trepidation. So we have gone above and beyond the recommended government guidelines to ensure that our guests and staff at Bel-Air were completely safe whilst they were here.

While we’re still in lockdown in France we have been planning our Bel-Air Gites summer family holidays. But not for us. We are checking out what’s going on around Bel-Air for our lovely guests.

And here’s a list of just a few events planned in and around Royan starting in April 2021.

Royan Events Diary

April – Kite & Wind Festival – three days of shows on the beach for the whole family. The ever expanding festival includes aerial displays which will enthral adults and children alike. Each year the festival unfolds along the length of the beach and welcomes regional, national and even international kite flyers and visitors. This is always top of our list because it’s free to watch all the displays, but there are also sessions where you can learn how to fly a kite, water sports and even flights in a hot air balloon. If you can’t get away for the summer then why not plan a holiday earlier in the year?

May – European Museum Night – there are several online events throughout the year. But in May, normally the closest Saturday to May 18th, museums all across European open for the night, free of charge. According to TripAdvisor there are 57 museums in the Charente-Maritime so there is plenty of choice!

Bordeaux museum planning your summer holiday
Planning your summer holiday

Warming up for summer

June – Rendez-vous aux Jardins – The first weekend of June over 2,000 public and private gardens are open to the public. There are guided tours, exhibitions and gardening workshops for adults and children.

Each new edition focuses on a theme relating to knowledge, protection, conservation and gardening: “the child in the garden”, “the stroll”, or “colours”.

Rendez-vous aux Jardins

June 21st – World Music Day

Planning your summer holiday World Music day
World Music Day – Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Artists and music-lovers of all ages gather all over France, and now all over the world, to perform free of charge every year. It’s an unmissable summer event in the French people’s social calendar. So make sure you don’t miss it – wherever you are.

Just for starters

These are a few, just to start you thinking. If you can get away earlier then your travel costs might just be a little less expensive. So why not check them out, and see if you can’t bag yourself a bargain flight or a cheap ferry crossing? You can even use our Bel-Air Gites Holiday Planner to list your favourite events.

Coming soon

We’ll tell you all about the July, August and September events in our next post. So now, while everyone else is still wondering what to buy you for Christmas, you can be planning your summer holiday.

Wouldn’t that be the biggest and best surprise of all if you told them that you’d booked a holiday at Bel-Air Gites in the Charente-Maritime? And they just thought you were dreaming of Christmas.

summer events planning

Book now for 2021

New Beaujolais Festival

When is Beaujolais Nouveau Day?

Beaujolais Nouveau 2020

Every year wine-lovers around the world wait patiently for November. This is the month when they can celebrate the release of that world-famous wine, Beaujolais Nouveau. Under French law, the wine is released at 12:01am on the third Thursday of every November. And (in normal circumstances) there are parties all over France, and in other countries, celebrating it’s release with fireworks, dancing and music.

It’s Beaujolais Nouveau Time!

The Beaujolais vineyards cover an area of approximately 22,500 hectares and 12 different quality wine-producing areas, or ‘appellations’. So not surprisingly, there will be a lot of celebrating going on. There are around 120 Beaujolais Nouveau related festivals held in the Beaujolais region every year. 

The most famous of these is Les Sarmentelles, held in the town of Beaujeu, the capital of the Beaujolais region. Starting on the eve of Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the five-day festival includes wine tasting (obviously), live music and dancing. During the afternoon on Beaujolais Nouveau Day, there are wines and local foods to sample. There is also a tasting competition featuring all twelve ‘appellations’ of Beaujolais. The prize for the winner is his or her weight in Beaujolais-Villages wine. Later on in the evening, a torch lit parade honours the farmers that made the wine. Then at midnight fireworks mark the official release of the new Beaujolais wine, and the revellers drink until dawn. It’s guaranteed to be a festive atmosphere!

The race is on

In November 1951, the ‘Union Interprofessionnelle des Vins du Beaujolais’ (UIVB) formally set the release date. Marketing of the wine capitalised on it’s fast distribution. So the race was on to see who could get the first bottles to Paris. In the 1960s, English clubs rewarded the drivers who returned the quickest and with the most wine. And so it continued. There was more and more media coverage, until by the 1970s it became a national event. Legend has it that some of the transport used to carry the wine included an elephant, a hot-air balloon and Concorde.

vineyard beaujolais nouveau
Image credit – Henri Guerin on Unsplash

Because of all the marketing attention it became necessary to review the shipping date. Eventually, in 1985, the date was changed to the third Thursday in November to take advantage of marketing it the following weekend. Nowadays, the wine is sent to retailers a few days ahead of the release date, with strict instructions not to sell it until 12.01am on the third Thursday.

Tasting

Beaujolais Nouveau is a young red wine, made from the Gamay grape and bottled 6–8 weeks after harvest. The resulting wine is fresh, fruity, and very low in tannins. However, unlike other wines it is not one that improves with age, so it is best for immediate drinking. Serve it slightly chilled at around 13 °C (55 °F).

Charentais specialties

We might not have Beaujolais on our Bel-Air Gites doorstep, but we do have an equally wonderful variety of wines and spirits, and delicious local dishes. Food-wise there are so many fantastic Charentais specialities you will be spoilt for choice. Take your pick from oysters, éclade (smoked mussels with pine needles), chaudrée (fish soup), or galette charentaise. Washed down with Cognac or the local Pineau des Charentes.

What are you waiting for? Book your next family holiday with Bel-Air Gites in the Charente-Maritime. Make wonderful memories and lots of new friends in 2021.

Book Now for Summer 2021

Les Mathes Halloween Market

The Halloween Market at Les Mathes 2020

Update: sadly for 2020 the traditional Les Mathes Halloween Market cannot be held. But the spooky spirit of the market still lives on. And the Mairie of the town wants you to help out.

Haunted cabin at Les Mathes 2020
#halloweenauxmathes

You can still go and take pictures of yourself and the children, wearing your disguises and fancy dress. The town council has set up a haunted chalet especially to set the scene on October 31st. They want everyone to enter into the spirit of Halloween and share the photos on social media to recognise the good work of the commune.

Share your scary photos

You can send your photos to the following email address :
communication@lesmatheslapalmyre.fr

Or share them on social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc) with the hashtag #halloweenauxmathes

Les Mathes Halloween

Stay Safe

Health and Safety rules require that everyone from the age of 11 will have to wear masks for this event.

Happy Halloween
Image credit – Mel Poole on Unsplash

Even if you can’t attend the Les Mathes Halloween Market, we hope you have a Spooktacular Halloween and that you all stay safe and well. We look forward to welcoming you back to Bel-Air Gites in 2021. All the best fun family holidays happen here in the Charente-Maritime.

Book your 2021 Summer holiday at Bel-Air Gites

#HALLOWEENAUXMATHES #BELAIRGITES #FAMILYHOLIDAYSCHARENTE

Kite and Wind Festival

International Kite and Wind Festival

International Kite and Wind Festival at Chatelaillon Plage

Every year the resort of Châtelaillon-Plage kicks off the tourist season in April with the International Kite and Wind Festival. There are three days of shows on the main beach with something for the whole family. And as it’s only an hour’s drive from Bel-Air Gites we definitively recommend you add at least one day at the festival on your holiday planner.

Unmissable

The unmissable events that make this international festival so popular include free flying, night flying and kite-making contests. There are also regular demonstrations provided by kiting enthusiasts and you can learn basic kite-flying at the Kite School. There are plenty of activities for children of all ages, but even if you don’t want to take part there is lots to see. All kinds and sizes of kites way up high, plus sand buggy kites, and kite surfing.

If kites aren’t quite your thing, there are water sports and other beach activities going on too. Even introductory flights in a hot air balloon. Now that would be a great holiday story to tell all your friends wouldn’t it?


All year round

Chatelaillon Plage is popular with families all year round. And in addition to the many annual events there’s also an aquatics centre with five indoor and outdoor pools, and water slides. It’s heated too so can be used even when the weather is on the cool side. For the toddlers there is a dedicated paddling pool and play area.

Bring your own

If you just want to chill out at Bel-Air Gites, why not bring your own kite here? We have plenty of space for the kids to run around and play in our gardens. Maybe they can make their own and have a kite and wind festival with the new friends they will make here on holiday.

Whatever you decide, one thing is for sure, you will make wonderful memories that will last a lifetime when you stay with us at Bel-Air Gites.


Book Bel-Air Gites for 2021

Autumn in France

Autumn at Bel-Air Gites

This year we are looking forward to another wonderful autumn in France. It’s a fantastic season for the senses. Sights, sounds and smells that you can only associate to the end of summer. Leaves changing colour from green to red, gold and brown, rustling in the wind and tumbling slowly to the ground. And the smell of fragrant wood smoke and the crackling of bonfires.

In the Charente-Maritime late September is still relatively warm. This year in particular we have had lots of lovely dry days. The nights are drawing in quickly, but even they are not cold, and we have had our windows open to let in a gentle breeze.

Soon we will be saying ‘au revoir’ to our last guests and starting to prepare the gites and gardens for the winter. Even when we have nobody staying with us there is still a long list of tasks to keep us busy.

Officially Autumn

In Europe autumn this year ‘officially’ starts on the 22nd September, but nature doesn’t work by the same calendar. Already we are seeing the swallows and swifts gathering to fly south. Their journey will take them thousands of miles to Africa because even the mild winters are too cold. There aren’t many insects around for them to feed on, so that’s another good reason for them to get away for a few months.

toasting marshmallows on bbq

Toasting marshmallows

Because autumn in France, around the Charente-Maritime is still warm we try and make the most of it. It’s still pleasant enough to be outdoors, and to take the chill off as it gets cooler, we light the barbecue. Winter is only officially here when it’s too cold stand around the barbecue toasting marshmallows.

Precious family time

Autumn is also a time when we look back on the summer months and start thinking about Christmas and planning next year’s holiday. 2020 has not been great, but hopefully next year we will all to get to spend precious time with family and friends. Video-calling is fine, but it doesn’t replace the personal touch, and the warm hugs and kisses that make us all feel loved.

Our French friends in particular have found it a real struggle because kisses are a big part of saying hello, even to strangers.

So, if you are thinking about getting together for a well-earned holiday next year, why not bring family and friends to Bel-Air Gites? We have lots of accommodation and loads of great spaces for the children and grown-ups. And in our child-friendly gites we provide everything you need so that you don’t need to bring it all with you. That might just give you enough room to squeeze another person in the car.

Book Now for 2021

chenes-2-collage

Historic village of Taillebourg

Panoramic views over the Charente River

Situated on a rocky peak overlooking the Charente River, the village of Taillebourg has a rich historical and architectural heritage. The area, including the chateau park, is also a protected natural environment.

Battle of Taillebourg 21 July 1242 – by Eugène Delacroix

Visitors to Taillebourg go to explore it’s medieval history and visit the remains of the early 11th century castle. They can also to take in the amazing panoramic views over the Charente River. But you will discover so much more if you dig deep into Taillebourg’s long and eventful past.

The village is just 45 minutes drive from Bel-Air Gites. If you are interested in history, ancient ruins and fierce battles, then it’s well worth a trip out. Or if you want to try a new water sport, then the village of Taillebourg can provide that as well.

Paleolithic Settlement

The region around Taillebourg can trace its presence back to the Paleolithic ages, around 10,000 years BC.

Due to its position high on the rocks overlooking the river, it’s been the site of many invasions. As far back as the 5th century BC it was occupied by Celtic invaders. With Roman and German settlers after that. In 770 the first fortress was built to guard the region. Shortly afterwards the Normans attempted to take over the fortress, but were finally defeated by the local inhabitants in 865.

Battle Zone

In the centuries that followed, battles continued to take place in and around the region as invaders tried to take over this strategic fortress. Ownership of the land changed from French to English, and back to French again due to the marriages of Eleanor of Aquitaine.

One of the most important battles fought here was the Battle of Taillebourg in 1242. It began on the bridge over the Charente River, and continued in Saintes, where the English were finally defeated.

Biodiversity

Nowadays the village of Taillebourg is definitely a lot quieter. The only invaders are those of the tourist kind. Biodiversity is the key word, and this peaceful environment consists of undulating meadows, forests and marshlands. Since 2004 Taillebourg has been a Natura 2000 Site and protects around 20 species of rare birds.

The Charente River is no longer a battle ground, but an area teeming with fantastic water-based activities for adults and children. And the Nautic Club of Taillebourg has prime position.

Qualified Instructors

The club offers a range of sporting activities suitable for 3 to 93 year olds! They have qualified instructors on hand to teach you in water-skiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing and slalom.

Check out their website for prices, booking conditions and availability.

Create new experiences, and make wonderful memories on your next holiday.

Book now for 2021 and have a fantastic fun-filled holiday at Bel-Air Gites!

bel-air-scenes

Spectacular Parachute Jump Charente-Maritime

A parachute jump with breathtaking views of the French Atlantic Coast

For the thrill-seekers amongst you, how do you fancy a parachute jump over the Charente-Maritime? Experience the sensation of free-falling whilst taking in the breathtaking views over the Marennes Basin and Ile d’Oleron.

Based less than an hour’s drive from Bel-Air Gites, at the Marennes aerodrome near Ile d’Oleron, is the Big Air Skydiving school. It’s a professional parachute school located on the French Atlantic Coast. You will have sensational views of the sea and the islands during the flight and as you free-fall safely back to solid ground.

Unforgettable experience

If you haven’t done this before then you literally won’t be alone. For first-timers you are on a tandem parachute jump, which means you are safely connected to an experienced, professional member of the Big Air Parachute team. From the smooth take-off to your safe, controlled landing, they are with you all the way. Then, once you have landed you can go and share this unforgettable experience with your friends and family.

And if they don’t believe you, just show them the video of your spectacular parachute jump.

Who can do it?

Almost anyone can experience a tandem parachute jump. However, there are some age and weight restrictions, and parents have to give their permission for under 18’s to take part.

Although a medical certificate is not compulsory between the ages of 18 and 55, it is if you are under 18 or over 55. And insurance is included in the total price. You can check out all the details on the Big Air website.

Book now

So when Bel-Air Gites says you will have a fantastic family holiday and make unforgettable memories, now do you believe us?


The Charente-Maritime is an incredible region, with an amazing range of family attractions and beautiful, historical locations to explore.

Book your 2021 holiday at Bel-Air Gites

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