Holiday Review – Gites de la Foye, Charente Maritime

Charmed at the idea of staying in a former Cognac distillery,  Le Manoir de la Foye also ticked many other boxes for a family holiday in the Charente Maritime in France.

What is important in a holiday with two kids?  A swimming pool, of course, and to be near some interesting attractions that will make for a great day out.

And for the parents?  Just somewhere relaxing to chill out, but perhaps have the opportunity at mingling with some other francofiles, also keen on enjoying the region’s specialities (i.e. wine and cognac!).

Five charming gites

Le Manor de la Foye describes itself as ‘a delightful collection of five gîtes situated in the beautiful Charente Maritime region of France. Each gîte has its own private patio area and shared use of the heated swimming pool, summer kitchen and games room and have all been carefully restored and upgraded into comfortable homes for your holiday and are within easy access to the coast and a wide range of activities.’

Actually, we were quick to discover that this place undersells itself.  The Manor oozes authentic French charm, but not at the expense of decor or facilities.

Our accommodation was ‘Portail’, literally being translated as ‘portal’ or ‘gate’. This probably being due to directly facing the very statuesque main gates of the property which in turn had a beautiful view over the sunflower fields facing west, which meant a great view of the sunsets each evening.

First impressions

The first impressions of Portal is that it was spacious and very well equipped.  The front door led into a large lounge, complete with TV and DVD player, then on to a large kitchen which provided everything we could have wanted (including, to my ‘chef’ husbands delight, ‘proper’ pots and pans and freshly sharpened knives).

A twisting staircase led upstairs to one giant master bedroom with ensuite plus a large twin room, with separate bathroom.   Everything was spotlessly clean with freshly made beds and clean towels.

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The perfect hosts

The owners of Le Manoir are Nick and Chania Coveyduck and you would call them the perfect hosts.  Nick gave us the guided tour of the property, then also took time to talk through the various attractions of the region.  An ex-army helicopter pilot with a distinguished and varied career, he’s a character that adds charm to the whole holiday.

One of our best evenings was a group meal that Nick and Chania prepared and hosted.  A sumptuous paella that fed twelve – the best paella we have had for a long time, complete with flowing wine and great conversation, in a communal area that became our favourite eating place for the week.  This evening cemented some friendships that went on to make the holiday.

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Fun for the kids

The children had great fun in the swimming pool, making new friends with other families we all seemed to wander down there at the same time each afternoon for a friendly game of ‘pool rugby’ or ‘pool piggy in the middle’. (Each game with it’s own set of slightly bizarre rules).

In the evening, the children also enjoyed the large games room which had a pool table, table tennis and best of all, a projector and cinema screen, complete with surround sound.  What a treat!  And all included in the price.

Nearby attractions

Days out included visiting ‘La Vallée des Singes;’  (or Monkey World as we called it), at Le Gureau, 86700 Romagne, just over an hour’s drive away, a donkey sanctuary and a visit to Remy Martin in Cognac.

The kids loved Monkey World.  But a word to the wise – some of the monkeys get a little…er…’over-excited’…. during the feeding shows.  You may get more of an understanding of the world of monkeys breeding habits that you bargained for…

The visit to Cognac was a real treat for my husband and I.  There are a few distilleries to visit, including Remy Martin, Hennessy and Martell.  Remy Martin held an informative tour, finished off with a lovely tasting session, complete with canapés – perfect!

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Beach days

The gite is within about an hour’s drive of the coast, so a day out to either the Cote Sauvage near La Palmyre or perhaps to the Île de Ré is highly recommended.

Getting there

Getting to the Manoir de Foye is fairly easy.  It’s a five hour  drive from Caen, with limited toll roads and through some beautiful Charentaise countryside.  Worth going that extra distance into France for the weather – we were very fortunate to have blue skies and sunshine for pretty much the whole duration of a week.

So in summary – a great week, lovely place with great hosts and great facilities. Highly recommended.

Find out more

Find out more about Gites de la Foye here.