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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
At the mouth of the Gironde estuary, off the coast of Royan, sits the famous Cordouan Lighthouse. Built between 1584 and 1611 it is the oldest working lighthouse in France.
Built on a rocky plateau visible at low tide and surrounded by sandbanks, the Cordouan lighthouse can only be accessed by boat. It stands almost 70 metres tall, at the point where the Gironde Estuary flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
You can visit the Cordouan Lighthouse from April to November and your guides are the lighthouse keepers of this extraordinary building. It’s not an activity for the faint-hearted though and allow at least half a day for your outing. The boat trip takes approximately 45 minutes with cruises leaving from Verdon and Royan. It will drop you off as close to the lighthouse as possible, and then you have a 10-minute walk to actually reach the building itself.
Access to the site depends on the tides, and departure times for the cruises are regularly updated. We also recommend you wear appropriate clothing for the outing because sometimes the water can rise to mid-thigh level during the last 10-minutes’ walking.
Once inside the guide takes you through the various different levels. From the Girondins hall, through to the royal chapel with it’s stunning stained-glass windows. You will also get to see inside the royal apartment. But nothing can prepare you for the breath-taking view at the top of the 311 steps. The impressive view over land and sea is one of the most spectacular in the whole of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.
If you have not been able to go to the king of lighthouses, or if you want to find out more, there is a museum at the ‘Pointe du Grave’. It holds a collection of plans, models and documents telling the story of Cordouan, as well as other lighthouses and beacons in the area.
Bel-Air Gites is only a 45 minute drive to the nearest cruise company in Royan, so if you are planning to visit the lighthouse then you won’t be away from your holiday home-from-home for too long. And when you get back you can relax in our large heated pool, or chill out on your private patio.
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.
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.
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.
Our philosophy at Bel-Air Gites has always been to make sure our guests feel at home by trying to make sure our gites feel like a ‘home-from-home’. We seem to be doing something right because I’m happy to report that we have a lot of returning guests.
Families and groups of friends who come back year after year to stay at Bel-Air Gites. Even though 2020 has been very different because of Covid-19 restrictions, quarantines and subsequent cancellations, we have still had returning guests.
Last week we said ‘Au revoir’ to one of our regulars. As this is their ninth visit, I think we can confidently say that they love staying at Bel-Air Gites. And even left us a wonderful surprise gift and Thank You note.
It’s kind and thoughtful things like this which make everything worthwhile.
Relax and unwind
There are lots of things that make Bel-Air Gites the perfect family-friendly holiday location. Being in the second warmest region in France is a bonus, and our close proximity to long, white sandy beaches is another.
Then there is the abundance and variety of family attractions all within an hour’s drive of Bel-Air. You will find something in the Charente-Maritime to suit everybody, young or old. Activities that are new and exciting adventures. Or tranquil places that will gently help you relax and unwind.
New measures in place for the safety of our guests
Wherever you go on holiday you want it to be relaxing and safe. In France the government, health organisation and tourism departments are continually updating the information and advice for businesses in all areas. But for the hospitality sector, there are specific measures that must be in place to ensure the safety of our guests.
At present hotels, gites, campsites and other types of accommodation are open without restriction across France. However, all accommodation must adhere to the strict health guidelines issued by the government.
The health and safety of our guests has always been – and always will be – one of our highest priorities. At Bel-Air Gites we want you and your family to enjoy your holiday, and we also want you feel safe whilst you are here. This is why we provide lots of Covid-19 travel advice and information when you make a booking, and in all our gites. And it’s the reason why we have implemented some changes of our own.
Flexible check-in dates
You can now check-in on any day of the week. This helps you make travel arrangements which fit in with your busy schedules. So you can travel on dates and times that suit you. It also means that we don’t have all our guests checking-in and out on the same days, which is safer for all our guests. We also have a minimum of 24 hours between check-out and check-in for each gite. This gives us plenty of time to do a thorough clean and change-over, with less risk to ourselves and our guests.
The safety of our guests and everyone that works at Bel-Air Gites is our priority, and therefore we must impose some restrictions. We have worked extremely hard to try to ensure that the restrictions do not take away from your enjoyment of your holiday.
In the summer months the pool is our guests’ favourite location, and we want everyone to be able to enjoy it. With this in mind, we will now be allocating each gite their own area by the pool, with their own sun loungers. All of the sun loungers will be disinfected every evening, and we will also provide disinfectant for guests to use during the day.
There is a limit of 10 people in the pool area at any one time. So we ask all guests to be mindful of other guests, who might be waiting to use the pool. And please make sure that you take all of your belongings – toys, inflatables and pool towels – back to your gite.
Toys and Games
Unfortunately the Play Barn will remain closed for the foreseeable future. This is because we do not feel that we can guarantee that all games, toys and surfaces can be thoroughly disinfected every night, and during the day. However, each gite will have their own box of DVDs and games which can be used for the duration of the holiday.
The playground and trampoline are still open, and it is up to parents to decide if their children can use them or not. The equipment will be disinfected every evening, and and we will also provide disinfectant for guests to use during the day.
Obviously there are restrictions in place for all businesses and you need to bear this in mind when you are planning your days out. Cafes, bars and restaurants are open and everybody must comply with the social distancing measures in place. Wearing a mask is compulsory in enclosed public spaces for anyone aged 11 and over. And you must use the hand-gels provided.
If you are planning to travel on public transport you shouldn’t have any problems, as long as you follow the guidelines and wear a mask. Trains, buses, trams and all the stations have safety measures in place to protect members of the public and their staff.
So I’m sure you will agree that wherever you go in France you will be safe. And there is nowhere that you will feel safer than here at Bel-Air Gites in the Charente-Maritime.
If you still have questions about your stay here with us then get in touch. Because at Bel-Air Gites we want to assure you that the safety of our guests is really important to us. Just ask. We are here to help.
What is most important when booking your family holiday?
Knowing what matters the most will help ensure that you have a fantastic holiday with your family and friends. Here are our 5 tips to help you when you are next booking your family holiday. And coincidentally, we think Bel-Air Gites ranks very highly on all five counts.
1. Great Location
Location has to be top of the list when you are booking a holiday. If you have already decided that you want to visit France then there are so many beautiful places to choose from. Location will depend on how you are travelling too. Most of our guests either have their own car or hire a car from the airport. And unless you are flying into somewhere like Bordeaux or La Rochelle for a city break, then driving is the best way to explore the area. If you don’t want to take the car every day, then you can easily hire a bike for a few days. We recommend Bike Hire Direct as they can deliver to and collect from your holiday accommodation.
There are not many places that can beat the diversity of the Charente-Maritime. Our Bel-Air child-friendly gites complex is perfectly located for white sandy beaches, theme parks, and stunning forest walks. We are also close to some of France’s most beautiful chateaus and historical cities, such as Bordeaux, Cognac and La Rochelle.
2. Amazing Accommodation
When booking your family holiday you want somewhere that has lots of room for adults and children to sleep, and spend time together, without getting under each others feet.
The best accommodation should be fully-kitted out with all the essentials, so that you can dine in without having to source extra pots and pans. If you have small children or toddlers then you should also look for little extras like pushchairs, stair gates and baby monitors. Because the less you have to pack, the less stressful your holiday will be.
Our self-catering family accommodation consists of a traditional Charentaise farmhouse and four rustic-style gites. So there is ample space for all your family and friends. And we provide everything you need for a relaxing stress-free holiday, so you don’t have to.
Here at Bel-Air gîtes we have created a wonderful fun haven for children and toddlers, somewhere they can play safely all day while you relax, unwind and have a stress-free holiday. Our large outdoor swimming pool, playground and trampoline are a big hit with all our guests. As are the fully-equipped gites with private patios, garden furniture, and the all important barbecue. Each gite also has an allocated area with sun loungers by the pool. So there’s no need to get up extra early to make sure you get a good spot.
3. Places to Go
The last thing you need when you are on holiday is the kids saying they are bored. But likewise, you don’t want to have to spend half your holiday driving around looking for things to do. So your holiday accommodation needs to be in a good location with plenty of family attractions on the doorstep. You also need to consider how close it is to shops, and cafes or bars where you can grab a coffee and watch the world go by.
Time spent travelling while you’re on holiday can be more stressful. You can reduce travelling and stress levels by planning your days out. This can also help with advanced bookings for theme parks, or family attractions, and might even get you a better price.
Here at Bel-Air we are surrounded by a multitude of attractions, and there is something to suit everyone, young or old. The nearby market town of Gémozac has plenty of cash-points, supermarkets, tabacs, cafes and restaurants. If you want to take in some French culture and shop for the freshest ingredients for your barbecue the local markets are the best places to go. Royan market has an excellent selection of fresh, local produce and is open 7 days a week from 7 am – 1 pm. It really is a gastronomic experience with its huge selection of stalls selling fruit and veg, meats, local cheeses, seafood, bread and gateaux.
We have listed our Top 10 attractions on our website, but if there is anything you are particularly keen to see or do then just get in touch. We’ve also created a planner that you can download, so everyone can add something that they want to do. Plan in advance to cut down on travel time.
It’s difficult to describe any family holiday as ‘a holiday of a lifetime’, unless you are planning to climb Mount Everest or go swimming with sharks. But you do want everyone to remember the holiday because they had such a fantastic time.
Seeing your child’s face light up when they step into the Futuroscope amusement park, or when they go out on a boat taxi at La Rochelle. These are all moments we treasure for a lifetime.
Making wonderful lasting memories is what we try to do. Our Bel-Air Gites guests always tell us that they never want the holiday to end. And when we have families coming back every year, not as guests but as friends, we know they love their holidays here.
This has to be the most important part of any holiday, especially for the adults. You want to be able to relax doing something that you love. Whether that’s playing golf, walking, fishing, swimming or just putting your feet up. You need time and space to chill-out, and recharge your batteries.
Here at Bel-Air Gites we take care of everything. Within the grounds we have created a safe environment for children of all ages to have fun and create happy memories. With a large playground full of swings, a slide, a climbing frame, trampoline and tunnels. And a large, heated outdoor pool that is fenced in and securely gated so your little ones can’t get in or out unsupervised. That is one less thing for you to worry about.
At Bel-Air gites we have years of experience in providing child-friendly, fun-filled family holidays and are confident that we have can provide everything you need. We want it to be your best family holiday ever.