Things to do and see

At Les Vieilles Ombres our style is unobtrusive, leaving you to plan your days and do as you wish – but you have the reassurance that if you need any advice or assistance, we will be on hand and be more than happy to help you. We have a tourist information centre nearby in Matha and brochures in your gite to help you plan your days and we can offer “inside information” on how to make the most of your stay.

Nearby activities in the area, The list is endless so here are a few things to wet your appetite…

Scuba Diving
During the warmer months this can be done in our nearby swimming pool. Taught by a qualified PADI instructor and a variety of options are available for children and adults depending on your abilities. Children from a very young age can start off with the BUBBLE MAKER which introduces the younger diver to the pleasures of scuba diving. There is even a chance to start your PADI OPEN WATER COURSE from age 12 upwards.

You certainly don’t have to be a strong swimmer to give this a try – it’s an ideal opportunity to try it out without being in the open water.

Prices start at 25.00 euros per hour. Lessons will be on a Monday Mornings 10am.

Cognac & Pineau Tasting
We can point you in the right direction to some of the best places to buy locally produced wine, Cognac & Pineau. There are numerous great local suppliers nearby as well as the big names like Remy Martin and Hennessy who offer tastings and explanations on their products.

Go-Karting
An outdoor track near to us. Great family fun.

Tennis
There is a court in the village. We can provide the equipment needed.

Cycling & Walking
There are numerous tracks that can be followed so that you can explore the surrounding nearby countryside without encountering too many cars.

Golf
Great courses within an hour of us, near the coast or deep in the countryside they will test your golfing skills.

Fishing
There are several lakes in the area that offer different fishing or even the picturesque Charente river.

Indian Village/Go Ape
If adventure is what you are looking for then head to one of these adventure parks and tackle the courses they have in place for all different ages.

Treasure Hunts in the local woods
Organised by us and suitable for all ages.
Further details on request

  • Visit the world famous zoo at La Palmyre
  • Laser shooting
  • Futuroscope – 3D/4D rides, a park like no other
  • Visit ancient ramparts of Angouleme
  • Drive the model boats at Saint Savien
  • Visit the historic town of La Rochelle & its famous Aquarium (Tickets can be purchased through us)
  • Visit Venice Marais Poitevint – the little Venice
  • Visit the lovely beaches of the Atlantic coast
  • Visit numerous museums in lots of differnent places
  • Horse Riding

Should you expect to arrive late in the evening, we will even arrange basic provisions so that your kitchen will not be empty when you arrive (but obviously we do need a little warning to do this for you).

Do you have a passion for red wine? Well this area is ideal for all red wine lovers as we are only 1hr 30 minutes approximately from the world famous wine growing area of Bordeaux. You will find field after field after field of vineyards growing those all important different varieties of grapes. Wine has been produced in this region since the 8th Century.

For many Bordeaux is the starting point a tour of the many famous Bordeaux vineyards with the opportunity to see the legendary chateaux of the D2 – including Margaux, Medoc, Mouton Rothschild, Pomerol, St Georges, and Yquem. Bordeaux has an annual production of approximately 960 million bottles…….so what better area to take yourself on a tour and see how its all done.

Things to do a little further afield…

La Rochelle
Worth a day’s visit in itself, Nearby La Rochelle is steeped in so much history

Worth a day’s visit in itself, La Rochelle is steeped in so much history. Featuring the old fortified port as well as the Old Town which houses the lively shopping area around the town hall.

No wonder nearby La Rochelle is a favourite haunt of painters with so much around to capture on canvas. Wander through the cobbled streets, discover the secret passages, historic buildings, ancient wooden houses and stately mansions. You will find an array of interesting shops & boutiques and an abundance of seafood restaurants overlooking the Old Port where you can sit and watch the world go by.

Make sure that you visit the Tour St Nicholas, La Tour de la Lanterne and the Musée du Histoire Naturelle. There are several other Museums suitable for all ages.

La Rochelle gives you access to explore the Atlantic Coast and its wonderful long sandy beaches. Catch a boat and hop across to one of the other islands like Ile de Ré, Il de Oléron or Ile d’Aix. Watersports are also available close by. The very well known Aquarium with hundreds of different types of fish is a fantastic place for the children to explore.

You can do horse riding along the Cote Sauvage, or play a round of golf or even pop along to Royan and the Zoo Palmyre, known as one of the best zoos in Europe. A visit to the local vignerons is a must to try a glass or two of the local aperitifs, wine and Cognac.

Distance: 90km – 55miles – aprox 1hr 10mins

Saintes
Saintes is proud of its rich heritage and the Tourist Informaton centre can provide a suggested walk which gives you the opportunity to stroll around the historic streets and discover the hidden glories of Saintes history dating back to the Roman era

Rarely on the main tourist routes. Saintes is proud of its rich heritage and the Tourist Informaton centre can provide a suggested walk which gives you the opportunity to stroll around the historic streets and discover the hidden glories of Saintes history dating back to the Roman era. It has many fabulous buildings to visit including the Gallo Romain Amphitheatre built in the year 40 and was home for the great bloody spectacles that the Romans loved to attend. Park on the market square and then discover the Old Town district around the cathedral. There is plenty to do in Saintes – not least of which is exploring one of the best selection of shops in the region.

In addition to the Cathédrale St-Pierre, there is a museum of fine arts (mainly devoted to paintings from the 15th to the 18th century) in the Presidial Museum of Fine Arts, and a further museum of fine arts in the Ancien Echevinage.

There is also the Jardins Publique which are decorated with Roman ruins; the Arc de Germanicus, a fine Roman ruin and the Abbaye aux Dames. The picturesque River Charente runs through the town so is an ideal place for a boat trip or for the more energetic a canoe.

30 minutes from the gorgeous beaches of the Atlantic coast and some of the lovely nearby towns and villages situated along coast. Paléosite, the story of pre-historic man, a great interactive place to visit for all ages. The Adventure Park at Abbaye Fonduce for those who like to swing between trees and experience adventure, it is home to many classical concerts also.

Lots of golf courses all within in 1 hours drive.

Distance: 49km – 30miles – aprox 30mins

Rochefort
Nearby Rochefort is famous for its grand architecture, excellent museums and its illustrious maritime past

Rochefort is famous for its grand architecture, excellent museums and its illustrious maritime past. Visit the Arsenal district where the great expeditions of the time were masterminded as well as the Musée de la Marine, the Hotel de la Marine, the Jardin de la Marine and the rope factory – the Corderie Royale.
Close by is the wonderful Chateau de la Roche Courbon, a fairy tale chateau with formal French gardens and grottos.

Distance: 59km – 36miles – aprox 50mins

Angouleme
Angouleme - With a labyrinth of narrow streets, wonderfully preserved ancient buildings and excellent views from the castle ramparts

With a labyrinth of narrow streets, wonderfully preserved ancient buildings and excellent views from the castle ramparts, Angouleme is one of those places you just like to stroll around simply to discover what’s at the next turn. Go to the upper town and walk around the fortifications to admire some stunning views and make sure you visit the Cathédrale St Pierre with its impressive façade.

If you are feeling sporty the Base Nautique Eric Tabarly offers not only canoeing and sailing but also a supervised area where children can play or swim in the water.

Distance: 50km – 31miles – aprox 40min

Cognac
Approximately 30 minutes drive from your gites, the nearby Cognac region

Approximately 30 minutes drive from your gites. The nearby Cognac region owes a large part of its wealth and fame to the magnificent River Charente – the main means of communication for the salt and eau de vie trade from the 16 th Century.

Park in Place Baulieu or alongside the river near the Musée de Cognac and then walk in to the old town. In particular visit Rue Grande, once the main street in Cognac and now lined with typical medieval 15 th century houses.

No visit to this area is complete without a visit to one of the Cognac houses, whether it be a well known name such as Remy or one of the smaller suppliers – both offer a fantanstic view on this world famous drink. Camus provides a tour which concentrates on the history of Cognac. You can also visit the cellars of Hennessy, Martell (the oldest of all the cognac distilleries) and Remy Martin where a miniature train takes visitors on a tour of the plant. Do visit the smaller Cognac makers also.

A visit to nearby Cognac would not be complete without a walk along the river banks or hiring a small boat to either fish or simply lie back and watch the world go by.

On the banks of the Charente you will find the splendid Parque Francoise 1, which has 3 “Circuits de Sante” – nature and activity walks. Situated next to the park is the Andre Mermet outdoor activity centre where, free of charge, parents and children can take part in numerous types of games. In July and August the centre holds special activity courses.

There are numerous walks that can be enjoyed in Cognac and its surrounding areas such as Ars, Boutiers, Saint Trojan and Breville. It is a superb way to explore the areas rich religious and architectural heritage.

Atlantic Coast
The Atlantic Coast from Arcachon (famous for its oysters and the Dune du Pilat) to Le Verdon-sur-Mer has miles and miles of unspoilt beaches facing the mighty Atlantic

The Atlantic Coast from Arcachon (famous for its oysters and the Dune du Pilat) to Le Verdon-sur-Mer has miles and miles of unspoilt beaches facing the mighty Atlantic – but make sure that you only swim where there are lifeguards, the power of the Ocean can be as unpredictable as it is impressive.

Visit Lacanau-Ocean for its pine forests, sand dunes and nature reserves, or Royan where you can visit the Cote Sauvage. Nearby bike paths wind through the woodlands and lead to the beaches.

Phare de la Coubre is one of the most powerful lighthouses in France, while for children the Zoo de la Palmyre is one of the most visited in France.

Vineyards Tours
This area is ideal for all red wine lovers as we are only 1hr 30 minutes approximately from the world famous wine growing area of Bordeaux

Do you have a passion for red wine? Well this area is ideal for all red wine lovers as we are only 1hr 30 minutes approximately from the world famous wine growing area of Bordeaux. You will find field after field after field of vineyards growing those all important different varieties of grapes. Wine has been produced in this region since the 8th Century.

For many Bordeaux is the starting point a tour of the many famous Bordeaux vineyards with the opportunity to see the legendary chateaux of the D2 – including Margaux, Medoc, Mouton Rothschild, Pomerol, St Georges, and Yquem. Bordeaux has an annual production of approximately 960 million bottles…….so what better area to take yourself on a tour and see how its all done.

Lake Beaches

Why not visit one of the many beautiful lakes in Poitou-Charentes. They offer plenty of opportunities to swim, boat, fish and generally enjoy splashing about in water and are a welcoming change to the busy beaches in summer.

This summer why not swap the regular trip to the beach for a trip to one of the many lakes dotted throughout the region. A lot of people do not tend to think about visiting a lake in the same way they dream about the beach. Yet there’s every reason to enjoy being at the lakeside as much as the seaside. For a start, there is a natural beauty in a grassy-banked, tree-lined lake just waiting to be discovered in its hidden dell among the fields and hills. The tranquility that you can find in these secret, nestling oases is far from the hustle and bustle of the beach.

St Estephe (1 hour 30 minute drive)

The Lac Saint Estèphe has much to offer families, especially in the summer. Different playgrounds for different ages, very clean, picnic tables, refreshments shop (and a very good ice cream shop), lovely paved walk all the way around the lake with a little foot ferry at the end which the children all love. It has a lovely beach too. It also offers access to swimming for the disabled.

Le Plan d’Eau de Saint Yrieix, Angouleme

Just a few kilometres from the restaurants, shops and museums in the bustling centre of Angouleme there’s a welcoming 26-hectare tranquil oasis just a 40 minute drive away from Les Vieilles Ombres: Le Plan d’Eau de Saint Yrieix.

As well as a sandy beach for swimming there are small boats to hire and, for the more ambitious, a sailing school and windsurfing club where instruction is provided. Tennis, volleyball, petanque, walking and cycling are among the land bound activities at hand while for the less athletic there are constantly changing exhibitions of paintings, photography and sculpture at the Tourist Office. An added bonus is the handy lakeside cafe. Right next door is Nautilis which has an Olympic size swimming pool and water slides.

Aubeterre-sur-Dronne
Auberterre is one of the finest villages in France with steep, narrow streets huddled at the foot of its castle

Auberterre is one of the finest villages in France with steep, narrow streets huddled at the foot of its castle while its church, dedicated to St John, has been hewed from a single solid block of rock. No mean feat

considering the 12 th Century nave is almost 70ft high!

Distance: 105km – 65miles – aprox 1hr 24mins

Brossac

Further south, 80 minutes in the car, near the point where Charente links arms with Charente-Maritime, Dordogne and Aquitaine, a couple of kilometres outside Brossac. There’s a sandy beach with a lifeguard on duty allowing safe bathing in the 4-hectare lake; there’s also a separate pool. Children have a games area, mini golf, bike hire and pony riding and there’s a cyber cafe with WiFi.

Anglers will love the lake, while 3km away is a quad bike and jet ski centre. Right by the lake is the Quai Sud restaurant where, apart from a varied menu including tapas, the speciality is the ‘Cucaracha’ – a mixture of coffee liqueur, vodka and vanilla set alight by owner Fabrice.

There are Thursday evening open air concerts in Brossac, and a visit to Chalais should take in the 12th century Church St Martial and its cloisters.

Bordeaux
Nearby Bordeaux is a large thriving modern city providing a shopping experience

Bordeaux is a large thriving modern city providing a shopping experience that combines the unusual, the charming and the downright expensive, but there is plenty of sightseeing as well:

Don’t miss a walk around Old Bordeaux, and in particular the Grand Theatre, Eglise Notre Dame, Place de la Bourse and the Porte de la Grosse Cloche. However, extensive restoration work is currently in hand so be prepared to see some scaffolding.

Distance: 1640km – 102miles – aprox 1hr 40mins

St Emilion
St Emilion - One of France’s finest wine centres and one of the country’s finest medieval villages.

One of France’s finest wine centres and one of the country’s finest medieval villages. Walk along its ancient ramparts and ancient cobbled streets or climb the Château du Roi for a view of the entire town. Visit the catacombs and the famous monolithic church or just drink in the sights of vineyard after vineyard butting right up to the village walls.

Visits to nearby vineyards can be arranged by the Tourist Information office and there is a tourist train for those who want to see some famous chateaux and have a short tour of the town but don’t feel like climbing the steep hills.

Distance: 170km – 105miles – aprox 1hr 45mins

Perfect holidays in France with our renovated French Holiday Gites location
Les Vieilles Ombres - 5 Stunning French Holiday Gites - for perfect family holidays in France

Bookings
For Bookings and Enquiries, Please Contact Les Vieilles Ombres

Telephone: 05 46 32 52 60