December Cookie Days

December is a feast of Cookie Days

Cookie Recipes

Cookie Day December 4th

For most English-speaking countries, except the U.S and Canada, we sometimes call big chewier biscuits ‘cookies’ and the smaller crunchy biscuits would be, well.. just ‘biscuits’. But we are not going to argue over terminology when there is a special day for celebrating a good, chunky choc chip cookie. So on December 4th let’s all celebrate Cookie Day!

Different shapes and sizes

Cookies come in all shapes, sizes and they’re really easy to bake. So easy that even the kids can join in. And what could be more fun than making some lovely biscuity treats with your children? Eating them of course!

Here in France we have some lovely, moreish, crispy cookies, like Crêpes Dentelles, which means ‘lace crepes’. They are very thin crepes with have been folded over, so you have a deliciously thin, layered crunchy texture. They were invented over 200 years ago in Brittany by Marie-Catherine Cornie. She developed a secret recipe for making the paper thin crepes, but luckily it isn’t a secret any more. So now you can find artisans all over France who specialize in making crêpes dentelles.

langue de chat cookies

Another favourite of ours is Langue de Chat. These are small, thin, crispy French cookies and you can get them dipped in chocolate for extra scrumptiousness. Or flavoured with lemon, orange or vanilla. Langue de Chat means ‘cat’s tongue’.

It’s probably where the saying comes from ‘has the cat got your tongue?’ when someone is very quiet or doesn’t answer a question

genoise cookies

Up next is the Genoise Sandwich which is surprising similar to the popular McVitie’s Jaffa cake (is it a cake or is it a biscuit?).

These French biscuits come in three layers – a soft, Genoise sponge base, a jelly filling, and a thin chocolate layer on the top. It’s a delicious blend and a Genoise Sandwich is lovely with afternoon tea.

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Speculoos are a crunchy dark brown cookies that originated in northern France and Belgium. They are flavoured with cinnamon and and taste like caramel because of the special dark brown sugar that’s used, called vergeoise brune. These biscuits are delicious with coffee, which is why you will find them served in cafes all over the world. There is also a famous brand of ice cream that makes a whole range of speculoo-flavoured ice cream treats. And they’re very, very difficult to resist!

Image credit – Jonathan Taylor on Unsplash

Bake a Cookie Day 18th December

So there’s also Bake Cookie Day this month as well. So on the 4th we can just choose to eat our favourite cookie or biscuits. But on the 18th December, you can’t put it off any longer, and you have to bake some cookies. And in case you are stuck for ideas, here’s a few simple cookie recipes that all the family will enjoy making and eating.

Image credit - Antevasin Nguyen- on Unsplash
Image credit – Antevasin Nguyen- on Unsplash

A cuppa and a cookie

A biscuit and a brew. Same thing but different. Whatever you call them, they’re delicious. So sit down with your favourite biscuit or cookie and put your feet up. And while you are relaxing and thinking about where to go, when travel restrictions and lockdown are a thing of the past, remember Bel-Air Gites. Your favourite family holiday destination and all those great memories. Do you remember that wonderful pool, the play barn, and the playground that kept the kids totally entertained all holiday? So what are you waiting for?

Book your next family holiday at Bel-Air Gites

Know your Boules from your Bowls

Boules – contender for the Paris Olympics?

The French are very passionate about their beloved game of Pétanque. And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t only played by old men drinking Pastis. Women take part too, and it’s also popular with the younger generation. In fact, Pétanque (or boules) can be played by anyone, young or old, male or female. And with the 2024 Olympic games due to be held in Paris, it couldn’t be a more perfect time for petanque to be recognised as an Olympic event.

The ‘Confédération Mondiale des Sports de Boules’ have been lobbying for inclusion in the games since 1985. But sadly, the organising committee for the Paris games have already decided that it isn’t to be. Instead the new events could include break-dancing, skateboarding, climbing and surfing.

Origins of the game

Most French people would probably like you to believe that they invented the game of boules. However, its origins can be traced back a very long way. The people of ancient Greece and Egypt used to play games tossing coins and stones. But it was the Romans who came up with the idea of aiming at a target. In this case, the boules target is called a ‘cochonnet’ or piglet. It’s very similar to the jack used in crown green bowling.

Image credit – Egor Mizynik on Unsplash

The name comes from the french words pieds tanqués, meaning ‘feet planted’ (on the ground). This has gradually evolved into the current name, pétanque. It is also commonly referred to as boules, which is the name for the set of three metal balls used to play it. Boules are much smaller and lighter than the typical bowl used in crown green bowling.

The ‘terrain’

Unlike bowls, pétanque can be played on almost any flat, open space. When an area is constructed specifically for playing petanque, the ‘terrain’ is usually just loose gravel. Sandy beaches are not really suitable for playing with the heavy metal boules, but lighter, plastic boules are available. These are great for the beach, and of course we have a set at Bel-Air Gites that our guests can use during their stay.

In France, you will quite often see village squares and park pathways being used as pétanque playing areas. In addition, a lot of towns have recreational facilities (boulodromes) built especially for playing the game.


How to Play

Our advice for playing boules is don’t take it too seriously. Anyone can play and as it’s generally a team game, have a mix of ages and abilities on each team. Flip a coin to see who plays first. A member from the team that won the toss should toss the jack in any direction. It should be about 6 – 10 metres away from them. And a couple of metres from any object that might interfere with someone’s throw, a tree for example.

After throwing the jack a member of the same team throws the first boule. They have to try to get it as close to the jack as possible. Then a member from the second team throws. They either try and knock their opponents boule out of the way, or throw to get closer to the jack. If they succeed in either of these then they have the lead. The team that isn’t closest to the jack must play the next boule. And so on until they are closest to the jack, or run out of boules.

Count the scores

After all boules have been thrown, the team whose best boule is closest to the jack wins the round. The winning team gets one point for each of their boules that is closer to the jack than the losing team’s closest boule. The losing team don’t score any points. The winning team starts the next round in the same way as the first one, tossing the jack and throwing the first boule.

Don’t worry, if you don’t understand the rules. We will happily show you how to play when you come over for your next holiday.

Way of life

The reason why we love playing boules is because it is a great game for all the family. There’s no running around after a ball, and it can be played almost anywhere. When it’s hot, as it is now in the sunny Charente-Maritime, then play boules under the trees in the shade.

For the adults, why not try it with a glass of Pastis? Who knows, maybe you will enjoy the french way of life as much as we do. And you will want to come back to Bel-Air child-friendly gites year after year, for more fantastic, fun-filled family holidays.

Bel-Air Gites now taking bookings for 2021


#childfriendlyholidays #belairgites #charentemaritime #bestfamilyholiday

Go wild at Zoodyssee

The emphasis at Zoodysee is on conservation.

If there is one thing that visitors to the Zoodysee park comment on the most it’s the park’s commitment to conservation. And the reintroduction of endangered species back into their natural habitats.

Located in the Deux-Sevres department, in the Forest of Chizé, this amazing park is home to over 800 animals. It’s just over an hour’s drive from Bel-Air Gites and it’s well worth a day out. In fact, you only have to read the reviews on TripAdvisor to see that it’s one of the area’s top family attractions.

The Enchanted Village

This year they have opened the new Enchanted Village playground, with games and equipment suitable for children from 1 year upwards. With lots of slides, distorting mirrors, climbing walls, and swings. In addition, the park’s owners have put a lot of effort into ensuring that the playground is accessible for everyone.

Because the park is in the forest it means that even in the summer, it’s lovely and cool in the shade of the trees. So, that’s good for you, good for the kids, and ultimately, good for the animals too. Get up close and personal with some of the animals, and take part in lots more family-orientated activities.

Snowy owl

Safety conscious

If you don’t fancy walking why not ride in a horse-drawn carriage? Or watch the various animal shows presented every day from 11 am? The animals taking part include bears, otters, bustards, deer, wolves, and vultures! And every Monday afternoon, park rangers explain to visitors all about the science, environment and the future of Zoodyssee.

Check out the Zoodyssee website for prices, opening hours and safety procedures.

Book Bel-Air Gites For 2021

We happy to say that we are now taking bookings for next summer, but don’t miss out. Dates are booking up fast, and we’d love to see you at Bel-Air Gites. Child-friendly family accommodation in the Charente-Maritime.

Wish you were here? Book now for 2021

We’ve booked Bel-Air Gites!

It’s been very quiet at Bel-Air Gites recently. We have spent a lot of time in the garden, tidying up the gites, the pool area and Play barn. It still feels very strange that we are not busy with guests, check-ins and change-overs. Like so many families, the last few months have helped us to appreciate what we have got. And to learn not to take anyone, or anything for granted. We especially appreciated all the calls and video chats that lifted our spirits and made us smile. It made us we wish you were here.

Even though we have had enquiries for this summer, as a family we have decided to ease ourselves very slowly back into a more normal routine.

Now we are happy to report that Bel-Air Gites is open for business, and taking bookings for 2021. In fact, we have had so many enquiries already, it looks like it’s going to be an incredibly busy summer!

If you are planning your next holiday, here are a few very good reasons for you to get in touch. Make sure you don’t miss out.

Family-friendly

You only have to check out our reviews to see that we are recognised as one of the best, family-friendly holiday businesses in the Charente-Maritime.

At Bel-Air gites you will have everything that you need to make this your family’s home-from-home. Wish you were here?


And we mean ‘everything’

We want it to be your best family holiday ever and we start by providing all the basic kiddie essentials. Whether you have babies, toddlers or bigger kids, twins, triplets or even quads, at Bel-Air gites we provide everything.

  • Cots and linen, high-chairs, pushchairs, baby baths, stair gates, changing mats, baby monitors, booster seats, potties and toilet trainer seats.
  • Steriliser bags, child steps, bath/shower non-slip mats, child proof cupboard and window locks, bath toys and children’s cutlery
  • A hand blender, night lights, blackout blinds
  • Bath towels, hand towels and pool towels, even for the babies

If you can think of something that we haven’t listed let us know. We will do our very best to provide it for you. You can rest-assured that all of these items will be completely sanitised between check-ins. Our guests’ health and safety has, and always will be, our top priority.

Child-friendly means more than just providing a cot and high chair.

Accommodation

At Bel-Air we have four individual gîtes (holiday cottages) and a large farmhouse. They sleep between 4 to 6 guests, so they’re ideal for small families, or for bigger groups that want to holiday together.

All the gîtes are fully furnished and well-equipped, including TVs showing UK and French TV channels and DVD players. We also provide Free WiFi so you can keep in touch with friends, and share your wonderful holiday experience!

Each gîte has it’s own private patio area with barbecue and garden furniture. Large enough for you to dine ‘al fresco’, the patio area is the perfect place to wind down. Enjoy a chilled glass of wine, and watch the sun setting across the fields. I bet you wish you were here now.

Our Facilities

As if the accommodation wasn’t enough, we have created a safe and secure environment for children of all ages. They can play, have fun and create happy childhood memories.

We have a large playground full of swings, a slide, a climbing frame,  trampoline and tunnels. The large, heated outdoor pool is fenced in, and securely gated so your little ones can’t get in or out unsupervised. You can relax and enjoy your holiday, while the kids have fun being pirates and little mermaids.



The Playbarn at Bel-Air Gites is a massive hit with children of all ages, and the adults too. There is a large selection of toys, books, DVD’s and games, including a pool table, footballs, and other outdoor games.

Health & Safety

Our guests’ health and safety has, and always will be, our top priority. And we pride ourselves on keeping all the activity areas safe, clean and as up-to-date as possible.

From next year we are introducing more flexible arrival and departure dates. This will ensure that we have a full 24 hours in between all bookings. The extra hours will enable the team at Bel-Air to more thoroughly cleanse the property inside and out, and to ventilate the rooms. Hand sanitisers will also be provided in each gite.

If you have any questions regarding the cleaning process or products used, especially related to allergens, then please contact us before booking.

Location

Your Bel-Air holiday retreat is perfectly located in the beautiful sunny Charente-Maritime. Surrounded by a wide variety of exciting, and fascinating attractions you will find something to suit all ages.

Beautiful seaside villages of Saint Georges de Didonne, Talmont, Meschers sur Gironde and Royan. The picturesque islands of Ile de Re and Ile d’Oleron. All these are at the top of the favourite family holiday destination list. And they are all only a short drive from Bel-Air Gites.

We’ve put together our list of the most popular family attractions in the area. But there are so many nearby, you will need to stay longer to fit them all in. 

Do you need any more reasons? We don’t want you to miss out. Book with us today and have the family holiday of a lifetime.

Bel-Air Gites, child-friendly holidays in the sunny Charente-Maritime.

We wish you were here

Where on earth will we go today?

family of frogs in a caravan

Virtually explore the world – from the comfort of your own home

Following the announcement from the French Prime Minister yesterday, it would seem that from May 11th France will be slowly coming out of confinement. The plan still all depends on there being no more than than 3,000 new cases a day by that date. Unfortunately, holiday businesses like Bel-Air Gites are not included in the first stage. We have to wait until the beginning of June, to see if more businesses will be allowed to open.

Travel into France is still strictly regulated – for essential reasons only – and there’s no mention of a plan to change this. The EU’s borders to non-EU countries will not reopen on May 11th.

Google Earth

So, in the meantime, when we can’t work out in the garden and all the other jobs at Bel-Air gites are complete we go out and explore the world!

You can use Google Earth to virtually view almost anywhere in the world. We started off searching for Bel-Air Gites. Then we searched for the homes of all our family and friends in their various locations around the world. It’s really quite fascinating and so many unusual things show up on these aerial views.

explore the world
Explore the world from the comfort of your home

But now, our virtual tours are taking us to the tops of iconic buildings, like the Taj Mahal, and private viewings inside closed museums. 360° videos of streets, art, space and natural history. It really is quite incredible.

Entertaining as it is though, it’s not the same as sharing the perfect family holiday experience and making unforgettable memories with the ones you love.

So, after a quick virtual trip to Bel-Air Gites where you will be heading to next when you go and explore the world?

Have a safe trip and come back soon.

A young boy playing in the swimming pool

From Bel-Air Gites

We wish you were here x

Family fun for Easter

Have some Easter Family Fun!

The Easter countdown has begun! If you are not quite sure what to do for Easter, don’t panic. And don’t let coronavirus spoil the fun. There’s still plenty of time to collect a few ideas for activities for the little ones, that all the family can join in. With clues to solve and tasks to complete, they’re guaranteed to keep the kids entertained (and stop them eating all the chocolate in one go!)

Easter Egg hunting

This can be a great indoor or outdoor activity, depending on the weather. There are a couple of options too. The ‘treasure’ could be an Easter egg or a small gift. The fun for the kids is taking part! Like treasure hunts you can create a few clues. They have to work out the clues to find their way to the treasure. If you have more than one child then you will need more than one set of clues and treasure for each one too. Or a bigger treasure trove that they can hunt for together!

Alternatively, hide lots of little Easter eggs or small, wrapped presents, such as pocket-sized colouring books, around the house and garden for them to find. Don’t make it too easy though.

They will love pretending to be explorers or pirates looking for lost treasure so let them make up their own fancy dress to make it even more fun!

Craft Ideas with CDs and DVDs

If you have any old CDs and DVDs there are lots of great things that the children can make with scratched discs and ones you don’t use anymore. You can use almost anything for decoration but for painting them, acrylic paint is best. And lots of glitter! With the shiny discs and bright, colourful glitter, buttons and beads these would make wonderful, shiny wind-chimes for the garden.

For some fantastic, inexpensive ideas, check out these cute shiny fish and 25 recycled cd kids crafts

Egg and Spoon Race

All you need is eggs, spoons and somewhere to run. And don’t forget a prize for the winner. Use hard-boiled eggs, chocolate eggs or even marshmallows. If there are smaller children involved, maybe use something to stick the eggs on so they don’t fall off straight away. For more games to play for different ages go to – Kids Activities.

There are so many games you could even have your own Easter Olympics!

Crispy Chocolate Easter Nests

white tray displaying crispy easter nest cakes

It wouldn’t be Easter without crispy Easter nests.

If you haven’t got rice krispies, cornflakes or shredded wheat lightly crushed are just as good. The amount of the cereal will vary depending on their size and texture, so add a little bit at first to get the right consistency. And if you have any cake-cases these are great for displaying the finished cakes in.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice krispies
  • 100 g chocolate
  • 30 g butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup or honey
  • veg or sunflower oil for brushing
  • mini chocolate eggs for decorating
  1. Melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water.
  2. Remove from the heat, add the rice krispies and syrup, then mix it all together.
  3. Lightly oil a 6 or 9 hole muffin tin, divide the warm mixture evenly, pressing gently with your fingers to make a bird’s nest.
  4. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  5. Use a knife to ease the chocolate nests out of the tin, then fill with chocolate eggs.

I hope this has given you a few ideas for Easter family fun, and some of these can be adapted to use any time of the year. But whatever you do this Easter, please remember to stay safe.

Happy Easter from Bel-Air Gites

If you have any crafting or games ideas for children of all ages, we would love to hear them. Just get in touch or comment below.

Mysterra Labyrinth world

Step into a unique labyrinth park in the forest

This stunning park is set in 11 hectares of pine forest at the edge of the Baron-Desqueyroux Lake in Montendre. Mysterra adventure park is less than an hour’s drive from Bel-Air Gites and it’s a fantastic family fun day out.

There is a wide selection of activities, 7 different labyrinths for various ages and capabilities, games and competitions. Or you can just stroll, take in the peace and quiet of nature and admire the works of art.

There are scenarios to play where you will have to search for clues and work out the signs so you can find your way out. And you can use your smartphone or tablet (with the park’s free Wi-Fi) to help solve the puzzles.

The heart of the Mysterra leisure park

Because the park is in a forest and walking amongst nature. you must wear full and comfortable footwear. You’re advised to take bottles of water, a sunhat and plenty of sun-cream. Some of the unusual and unique labyrinth games can take up to 2 hours so be prepared for an exciting, entertaining day out.

For more details about seasonal opening times and prices, as well as buying tickets online go to – Mysterra Official Website. Or check out the TripAdvisor reviews

Or to see some of our other recommendations you can view our Top 10 List. There are so many places to visit near Bel-Air Gites that you will want to come back year after year. We look forward to seeing you soon.

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