Our favourite things to do...
On your doorstep (up to 30 minutes away)
- Beautiful country walks and cycling routes (see links below).
- Fishing on the river Thouet (permit required and can be purchased locally in Gourge / St Loup Sur Thouet).
- Gourgé – character village, with shop, bakery and Romanesque church, various fetes throughout the summer, horse drawn gypsy caravan rental.
- St Loup Sur Thouet, ‘Petit Cite de Character’ – stunning medieval village with half-timbered houses and small chateau, newsagent / bar tabac, shop, bakery, restaurant, bars and auberge. There are various fetes throughout the summer.
- Airvault – beautiful medieval town with a stunning cathedral, ancient covered small market held on a Saturday, a supermarket, variety of shops, museum, bars, restaurants, bakeries and local tourist information.
- Parthenay – our principle town, with a sizeable market on a Wednesday, a historic medieval quarter, all the commerce you would expect and home to many festivals throughout the year, including the 'festival of games' in July. Also of note is the newly refurbished public swimming pool with chutes and flumes, sitting in its own beautiful public park.
- Oiron – with a renaissance chateau and church, local wine tasting and summer fetes.
Slightly further afield (up to one hour)
- Thouars – slightly north, framed with its imposing 17th century chateau – Chateau Des Ducs de la Tremoille – is well worth a visit, especially on a Friday when the town hosts the areas largest market. Also of note is the resistance museum – ‘Centre Regional Resistance et Liberte’. There is also a variety of bars, shops and restaurants.
- Bressuire - a large market town, also in the north of the Deux-Sevres, is host to the highland games world championships each year, usually held in August. There is also a ruined chateau to explore, a church with a nave that managed to survive the revolution - so well worth a visit!
- Saumur and Loire Valley – although not in the Deux-Sevres, well worth a mention due to its close proximity to Á Bois Mort . Here, sample some famous wine names, such as Ackerman, Gratien & Meyer and Veuve Amiot, to name but a few. All the beautiful chateaux of the Loire Valley are all within easy reach.
- Poitiers – the University city of Poitiers is well worth a visit, with its gorgeous old cathedrals, bustling squares and medieval architecture, as well as a wonderful selection of bars, restaurants and shops – it’s a people watching paradise. You can also catch the TGV from here (Paris is a little under 2 hours away!) You also can’t mention Poitiers, without mentioning Futuroscope. One of the world’s top rated parks, offering 25 attractions based on future technology, cinema, audio-visual and all things futuristic.
- Niort – our principle city for the Deux-Sevres, and one of the most beautiful and green. Set on the banks of the river Niortaise, and still France’s major cultivator of Angelica (and all things related), Niort has a large covered market Thursday to Sunday. It also has beautiful riverside walkways. Kayaks can also be rented here and in the summer it joins many French riverside towns and cities by creating a beach that’s open all summer long with many attractions.
- The Marais Poitevin – just outside Niort, lies this beautiful and tranquil spot. An area of marshland, stretching for miles which is made up of man-made waterways. There are many small villages along the canals, one of the better-known ones being Coulon, where you can hire barges that are tied up along the riverbanks. For a small additional charge a guide will ‘punt’ you along the canals and explain the history and bio-diversity of this fascinating area. A truly remarkable visit and one that is very cooling and relaxing on a hot summers day.
- La Rochelle – the capital of Charente-Maritime area has, as you would expect, a rich seafaring history. The bustling Vieux Port (old harbour) is dominated by the imposing two towers, the port itself is lined with seafood restaurants and lively cafés and bars. The old town has been very well preserved, and you can meander the many streets and browse the variety of goods and products on offer in the wide range of shops.
- Ile de Re – just off the coast from La Rochelle and accessible by an awe inspiring bridge, lies the chic island resort of Ile de Re, home to two ‘Plus Beau’ villages – Ars-en-Re and Flote, a truly stunning island. The island is very popular with chic Parisians who have been coming here for decades. Another popular town on the island is Saint-Martin-de Re, with a lively harbour front café-restaurant scene, where you can while a way an hour or two people watching and marveling at the beautiful yachts in the harbour.
- Cognac – the historic town of Cognac, situated next to the river Charente and close to the large towns of Angouleme and Saintes, is as the name suggests, a mecca for enthusiastic oenologists. Here you can sample and visit all the major cognac houses of France, Courvoisier, Otard and of course Hennesey, the oldest cognac producer in the town itself. The surrounding countryside is well worth exploring, here you will discover all the independent producers (and in our opinion) some of the best makers of the delicious Pineau-des-Charentes.
Nearby attractions (not in any particular order!)
A. Chateau D’Oiron (renaissance chateau and modern art gallery)
C. Zoo de la Fontaine (Zoo de Doue / Zoo de Doue la Fontaine)
D. Aquarium – La Rochelle
E. La Valee des Singes
F. Marais Potevin
G. Vouvant – ‘Plus Beau’ village
H. Puy du Fou
I. Chateau de Cherveux
J. Les Geants du Ciel