The Area & Getting Here

However you plan to get here, whether by train, plane or car, here are a few of your options:

By air

Direct flights from London Stansted to La Rochelle airport (just over 1 hour away) are operated by Ryanair. London Gatwick or Bristol to La Rochelle are operated by easyJet. Southampton, Birmingham or Manchester to La Rochelle are operated by Flybe.

Direct flights from London Stansted to Poitiers-Biard Airport (1hr 12 mins away) are operated by Ryanair.

Direct flights from London Gatwick to Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport (1 hr 41 mins away) are operated by British Airways and easyJet. Ryanair operates between London Stansted and Bordeaux.

Direct flights from London Stansted to Limoges airport (2 hours) are operated by British Airways and Ryan Air have seasonal flights from East Midlands airport to Limoges.
Direct flights from London Gatwick or Luton Airport to Nantes Atlantique airport (just over 2 hours) are operated by easyJet.

Be sure to check the dates of your flights well in advance as some airlines only operate seasonally.

Of course, you can fly into or via Paris all year round and it’s about a 4 hr 40 min drive from there!

By ferry

Brittany Ferries operate from:
Plymouth to Roscoff,
Poole to Cherbourg,
Portsmouth to Cherbourg, St Malo or Caen.

By train

Fast trains from Paris Charles de Gaulle Roissy station stop at Poitiers ( 2 hours) or you can take the train through to St Jean d’Angély (around 3 hours).

By road

French roads are very well-maintained and the péage or toll system makes journeys even easier. If you are arriving by car ferry the driving times from the various ports are:

St Malo: 3 hr 54 min
Caen (Ouistreham): 4hr 30min
Roscoff: 5hr 13min
Cherbourg: 5hr 20 min

Hire cars and taxis

Hertz are currently advertising rental rates from 23 Euros per day (as at October 2017) for a week’s rental from Bordeaux airport.

Europcar operate from all major airports (they are offering a 22 GBP per day deal for a week’s rental from Bordeaux airport (as at October 2017).

A useful website to calculate taxi fares: Taxi Fare Finder

The local taxi company is: François Gratiot, 22 Chemin de la Loubie, Aulnay. Tel: 05 46 33 33 34

However you get here we wish you a bon voyage and we look forward to seeing you very soon…

The area

The Charente Maritime is one of the nicest parts of France and the château is ideally situated to explore the local area.

Whether you have just an hour, half a day, a whole day or longer to explore, here are just a few ideas.

If you have just one hour

Aulnay de Saintonge is a charming small town.  It has a quaint square where you can grab a coffee or a stronger drink and watch the world go by.  There are markets in the square on Thursday and Sunday mornings.  The town boasts 4 bakeries, a pharmacy, post office, open air swimming pool and play area, tabac and convenience store for all your daily needs.  There’s even a fish and chip van that visits on Thursday evenings!

You could visit the pigeonnier (or dovecote) located on Rue de Salles (D129) just off the square.  It’s a fine example of a defining feature of this area.  It’s on the way to the local Intermarché supermarket which will have all that you need for your regular groceries. Twice weekly markets on Thursday and Sunday.

The UNESCO World Heritage listed church of St Peter is a must-see on the Chemin de St Jacques de Compostelle (or the Camino de Santiago de Compostela or St James’ Way) pilgrimage route and a gem of Romanesque Poitevin architecture.

If you have half a day

A visit to the Château de Dampierre-sur-Boutonne is a lovely way to spend a few hours. It’s just up the road about 10 minutes away.  Find out the story of how they recovered from a fire a few years back.

You could visit St-Jean-D’Angély, about 20 minutes away.  A walk along the river is well worth it and it also has plenty of shops including several big supermarkets on its outskirts if you need more supplies.  There is a lovely park for children to run about in and a big indoor pool with picnic benches outside.

Cognac, famous for its brandy, is only about 40 minutes away.  As is Saintes, another quaint market town on the banks of the Charente river.  Niort is also about 40 minutes away, to the north with more medieval and renaissance architecture to discover.

A little further afield (about 45 minutes) is Château de la Roche Courbon, a real Sleeping Beauty-inspired fairytale castle with an interesting history and some pre-historic caves to explore in the grounds.

Rochefort, a port town on the Charente with a strong maritime history, is about 50 minutes away.

Day trips

La Rochelle is the capital city of Charente Maritime.  Just over an hour away.  It is famous for its harbour which has loads of restaurants.  The old town is worth a stroll and has lots of shops.  An attractive town, a walled seaport with the largest Marina on the Atlantic Coast. There are museums of ceramics and paintings and a large new Aquarium.  There are many bars and restaurants overlooking the harbour to enjoy a drink and a meal and watch the world go by.  Day cruises leave the mainland for the local islands.

Île de Ré, allow a couple of hours to get there and park in one of the coastal island villages. Just off La Rochelle, accessible by a toll bridge (details on this website).  Hire a bike and cycle the maze of cycle tracks. Here you will find long sandy beaches, ideal for sunbathing, quaint villages and small harbours.  There are cycle tracks through woodlands, vineyards and nature reserves.

Île d’Oléron similar to Île de Ré and a fab day out.  Nearer to Rochefort, linked by a toll-free bridge from Marennes, where you will find the main centre in France for the farming of oysters.  The sandy beaches are ideal for children and water sports.  On the island you will also find sand dunes and pine forests.

Angoulême is about an hour away.  Famous for its museum to comic strips and its annual Classic Car Race around its ramparts (around September).

Further afield

Bordeaux where the famous wine comes from… about 1hr 45 mins away

Nantes is just over 2 hours away

Bergerac is about 2 and a half hours away

Toulouse is about 3hrs 45mins away

And, of course, there’s always Paris! About 4 and a half hours from our lovely Aulnay de Saintonge (beware, there’s another Aulnay near Paris: Aulnay sous Bois, so don’t be surprised if Google Maps tells you “Aulnay” is much nearer Paris than I have said)!

Activities

There’s plenty to do in this area but if you are in the mood for some horse riding, golf, fishing, hiking, biking, or just lazing on the beach, here is some local information:

Horse riding

Michel Lafargue’s Horse Riding School just to the north of Aulnay (only about 6 mins away).  Tel: 05 46 26 32 38

Centre Équestre de la Borderie is less than 10 minutes away near Villemorin.  They have a website with more information about opening hours and prices.  Tel: 06 44 25 95 06

Pony Découverte Riding School is 11 minutes away in Varaize and also has a website.  Tel: 05 46 26 38 83

Centre Hippique de Mazaray is just the other side of St Jean D’Angély about 25 minutes away.  Here is the website.  Tel: 09 70 35 02 30

Golf

Golf Louis Royer Guillet near Saintes (30mins away) 18holes.  A municipal course with a challenging front 9 played around the ruins of the Roman Aqueduct.  Note the spectacular view of Saintes from the 12th green.  Website Tel: 05 46 74 27 61

Golf Blue Green Niort-Romagné (40mins away) 18+4 holes.  Open all year, 8:30am – 7pm July/August Equipment hire, proshop.  Interesting course with the first 6 holes played inside a horse racing track.  Then more tree-lined holes and lots of water.  WebsiteTel: 05 49 04 64 48

Golf du Cognac (45mins away) 18 holes 6142m, par 72.  Equipment hire, proshop. 8am-8pm from May-Sept, 9am-6pm from Oct-April.  Closed Tuesday in low season.  A members’ course very challenging and nice clubhouse.  Website Tel: 05 45 32 18 17

Golf de Royan Maine Godin (1hr 15mins away) fabulous course set in woodland and well worth the trip for better golfers.  Website Tel: 05 46 23 16 24

Fishing

Lake in St Jean, the Boutonne & Charente rivers.  Info and permits from local newsagent or tourist office in Aulnay.  Details at this website.  If you are interested in having angling classes, see this website.

Hiking and biking

Go for a Petite Randonnée (PR or short hike) or a Grande Randonnée (GR or long hike) and you can easily follow the well signposted footpaths and trails.  This useful websitehelps you to search for a great hike by duration, difficulty or mode of transport (in case cycling is more your thing).  There are bicycles at the chateau.

Beaches

There are lots of good beaches along the west coast such as Fouras or Plage des Minimes (both about an hour away).

One day excursions on sea-going catamarans can be booked from the old harbour in La Rochelle.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s