Plan now for summer travel

Treat yourself and book today!

If only we were lucky enough to have a view like this from our living room window. I could happily sit and watch the waves everyday. We might not live on the beach but we do have lots of beautiful, white sandy beaches on our doorstep. It’s one of the reason we chose Bel-Air Gites as our home, because even just a couple of hours on the beach gives us an energy boost, whatever the weather.

Sound of the sea

At present, in the latest COVID-19 restrictions for our area, the beaches are not out of bounds but they are wonderfully quiet. Even in the peak season, our nearest one, Barzan Plage, is not busy and it’s lovely to just stroll along listening to the sound of the sea. When we’re feeling energetic we walk from there to Talmont-sur-Gironde and back, just to take in the view from Eglise Sainte-Radegonde, on the top of the cliff.

Where would you go?

So what would be your ideal location? If you could live anywhere you wanted would it be in a city, or by the sea? A huge mansion with it’s own golf course, or self-sufficient and living off the land? But then where would you escape to on holiday? Perhaps somewhere with beaches, ancient churches and beautiful chateaux. Water sports and woodland walks, hiking and cycling trails, golf courses and fishing – lots of activities for all the family. Well then, you must be thinking of escaping to the Charente-Maritime because we have got all of that, and much much more.

Making plans

We all need to have something to look forward to and with the COVID-19 vaccinations progressing well across Europe, we should all be feeling a little more confident that things will soon be getting back to normal. We are busy making plans, and so are some of our previous guests, who have already booked to stay this summer. So if you are planning a trip to France this year why not come and stay at Bel-Air Gites? We are child-friendly, family-friendly and COVID-secure.

Low deposit

And if you book now a low 10% deposit will secure your booking for your best ever family holiday! Think of those fantastic BBQs on your own private patio. Your own sunbeds by the pool, spacious gardens for the kids to play in and lots of amazing family attractions close by. Pay your low deposit now to secure your reservation, and then pay the balance 8 weeks before the start of your holiday. Rest assured that we will be totally flexible with all bookings if there are any further changes in the COVID situation. If you are worried at all about booking now, just give us a call and we will talk it through with you.

Everything you need

Here at Bel-Air Gites we understand how important it is for you to get away from the everyday stresses and strains of daily life. That’s why we provide everything you need to make your stay with us as relaxing and enjoyable as possible.

Treat yourself, and book Bel-Air Gites today

returning guests relaxing in the pool

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

Cognac Tours and Tasting

Cognac Tours and Tastings for the grown-ups

Camus Cognac tours and tasting

Bel-Air Gites is based in the Charente-Maritime and less than an hour’s drive from the historical city of Cognac. And without a doubt, it is one of the favourite destinations for some of our grown-up guests. There is a varied selection of museums, chateaux and medieval buildings to explore, and boat trips along the river. But it seems the most popular adult attractions are in fact the Cognac tours and tastings. Quelle surprise !

Quality control

There are different qualities of Cognac produced by the various companies based in and around the city. And the quality of the spirit will affect the price that you pay. Since the early days of Cognac production the main consumers and producers were the British and Irish. They used some of the techniques perfected for distilling whiskey to help improve the Cognac process. Consequently, because of their involvement the different types of Cognac quality are all English terms. VS (Very Special); VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) and XO (eXtra Old). The quality control is based on the length of time the spirit is left to mature in the oak barrels. Generally, the longer the Cognac matures in the barrel the smoother it becomes.

Tours and tasting

Almost all of the great Cognac houses have regular distillery tours and tasting, but we think one of the best is perhaps one of the least famous – Camus Cognac. Founded in 1863, it’s the largest family-run, independent Cognac business and has been in the Camus family for five generations. Today they employ more than 300 people, in 8 countries, spread across 3 different continents.

In you are interested in finding out more about the distillery process and the various quality controls of this wonderful drink, then check out their website. They offer a variety or tours and tastings, but please remember to drink responsibly.

Cognac tours and tastings
Image credit – Eaters collective on Unsplash

Book for 2021

While you are taking part in your Cognac house tour, the other members of the family can enjoy their own tour. We think this lovely city will surprise you with its impressive architecture, delicious restaurants and charming boutiques. So make sure you include a day out in Cognac on your summer holiday planner.

We look forward to seeing you at Bel-Air Gites next summer

Bassins de Lumieres Bordeaux

World’s largest digital art centre

Bassins de Lumieres, Bordeaux

Unique experience

The beautiful city of Bordeaux in south west France is home to the newly opened Bassins de Lumieres. Although the original opening had to be delayed because of coronavirus, since June the venue has become a popular attraction. It’s a truly unique experience suitable for all ages. And this magical underground digital art centre, housed in a WW2 submarine base, is one of the few venues that is still open to visitors.

Enjoy a unique experience, explore limitless worlds, and allow yourself to be transported into the heart of art

www.bassins-lumieres.com

Bassins de Lumieres Exhibitions

Until the 3rd January 2021 there are four exhibitions taking place. Each one in a different arena within the art centre. Two are dedicated to the works of Gustav Klimt and Paul Klee. And the others are ‘contemporary digital design creations’ – Anitya and Ocean Data. Each exhibition is an amazing fusion of motion design, with digital projections of vibrant images and colour. All presented to a backdrop of recognisable classical tunes by composers such as Beethoven and Mozart.

bassins de lumieres bordeaux art centre

In order to ensure the safety of visitors and staff, entrance to the venue follows strict health guidelines. These include limited numbers of visitors, reservations only, the compulsory wearing of masks and temperature checks.

Booking your holiday

Instructions on how to get there are included on their website, but from Bel-Air Gites it’s about an hour’s drive. From January 2021 there will be new and exciting exhibitions on at Bassins de Lumieres. So when you are booking your family holiday at Bel-Air Gites be sure to check what’s on the agenda. And once in Bordeaux there are lots of year-round attractions for the whole family to enjoy. In fact, you could easily spend a whole day exploring the city and cruising on the river.

So what are you waiting for? If you want a fantastic, family holiday, then book with Bel-Air Gites. Our child-friendly gites have everything you need. And much, much more.

Book Bel-Air Gites for 2021

Happy children playing in a swimming pool

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

Talmont-sur-Gironde

One of the most beautiful villages in France

Talmont-sur-Gironde is recognised as one of France’s most beautiful villages. It is 15 km south of Royan, and situated on a rocky cliff overlooking the Gironde estuary. Less than 30 minutes drive from Bel-Air Gites, this pretty little village is one of our guests’ favourites.

Les plus Beaux Villages de France

White-painted houses with blue shutters and gardens filled with scented roses and multi-coloured hollyhocks. It is a photographer’s dream location. But it also has an incredible history and some of the most wonderful views of the Atlantic Coast.

Fishing huts on stilts

Along the cliffs you will also see the ‘carrelets’. These are fishing nets suspended from the fishermen’s huts built on stilts. The carrelets are part of the Charente-Maritime heritage and an incredible sight, standing tall on the coastline.


Surprisingly perhaps given its position, Talmont was founded as an English bastide town in the 13th century and the layout of the streets now is more or less the same as it has been for the last 700 years.

Francethisway.com

Exploring the village

The streets of Talmont are quite narrow so you need to park the car and explore the village on foot. Start by following the old fort ramparts around the outside of the village and finish with a stroll around the streets and the pretty whitewashed houses.

Talmont-sur-Gironde is best known for the magnificent 11th century Sainte Radegonde church, that stands right on the edge of the cliffs. The façade of the church had to be rebuilt in the 15th century after the original façade fell off into the sea. But as well as its location, the church has a beautifully ornate carved entrance, and fascinating carvings of animal heads just below the roof.

Coastal views

The views along the coast from the cemetery are very impressive, with white cliffs in both directions. After completing a tour of the ramparts take a stroll through the narrow streets of Talmont-sur-Gironde to see the little whitewashed houses.

Pink and white hollyhocks

Colourful display

From the end of spring and into the summer months, the hollyhocks dominate the village streets and the cemetery. They are a really beautiful sight and seem to grow from every little crack in the wall.

We have hollyhocks here at Bel-Air Gites as well. Incredibly tall stems that look too fragile to last a long time, but some can flower for several months. They are self-seeding so we get more and more every year. If you want to see the hollyhocks in full bloom then make sure you book your next summer holiday at Bel-Air Gites in the Charente-Maritime. We are in a great location close to beaches, woodlands, vineyards and castles. There are plenty of family attractions here as well. From theme parks to golf courses. Hiking trails to water-sports. You’ll find something to suit everyone.

Book now for Summer 2021

Cordouan lighthouse

Cordouan Lighthouse – the lighthouse of kings

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.

‘The Versailles of the sea’

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.

Lighthouse keepers

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.

cordouan lighthouse
https://www.cordouan.culture.fr/en

Spectacular views

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.

Find out more

Cruises departing from Royan
Croisière La Sirene

Cruises departing from Verdon
Vedette la Boheme
Galantaise Croisieres

Planning your holiday

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.

We pride ourselves on providing great accommodation equipped with everything you need. And we also ensure that you, your family and friends will stay safe whilst you are holidaying with us.

Start planning your next fantastic family holiday at Bel-Air Gites in the Charente-Maritime.

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