This area has some wonderful way marked tracks for both amblers and ramblers. Discover tumble down bread ovens, stone wells, quaint bridges, ancient chapels and if ever you feel the need to cool down- bearing in mind this region is second only to the Côte d’Azur for it’s sunshine scores - just dip your feet into the icy cold water of any of the beautiful stone ‘lavoirs’ at river sources. It’s also an ideal area for gentle cycling especially as there’s so little traffic on the roads, lots of interconnecting lanes through fields and woodland… lovely spots for picnics. For aspiring and experienced equestrians alike, the best way to enjoy the countryside here is on horseback, so why not go for a hack ‘en famille’ with our highly regarded local Riding School, ‘Les Ecuries du Breuil’ just 3km from us.
For water lovers, there’s the sea near La Rochelle for beach combing, swimming and body boarding and there’s a wide choice of open air pools, man-made lakes with sandy beaches and river swimming all nearby, that’s if you can tear yourselves away from the gardens and pool at ‘Le Clos des Jardins’! There’s the ’Lac du Lambon’ set in an extensive park of natural woodland, which has a floating swimming pool on the lake itself, ‘acro-branche’ activities, boating and fishing. There’s several other lakes for fishing nearby; no need to cast your line too far to find a good one.
The ‘undiscovered’ Deux-Sèvres, offers wonderful possibilites for budding artists. There’s something special about the quality of light here; the way it seems to transform the banal. Francis & Alison, whose background is in Art & Design, will always make time to help and support guests, if requested, with drawing and painting on an informal basis…any excuse to take a break from weeding the vegetables!
There’s an enormous diversity of wildlife to discover and identify during your stay here. Woodpeckers, Hoopoes, Kingfishers, Nightingales, Barn Owls, Montague’s Harriers – just to name a few! There’s a fascinating array of Wall Lizards, Praying Mantis, Stick Insects, Mole Crickets, Glow Worms, Stag Beetles, Emperor Dragonflies, Swallowtail Butterflies and Hummingbird Hawk Moths and all these identified within our grounds! Staying within the animal kingdom, there’s always the hens and sheep ‘at home’ who always relish attention.
There’s a wide range of 18 hole golf courses, mostly under an hour’s drive from Mandegault. The closest is Niort with a good restaurant and only 40 minutes drive, followed by St.Cyr & Beauvoir near Poitiers, Angoulême, Saintes and Cognac with a 27 hole course at Le Forges, Ménigoute.
There are many pleasures to be had from simple everyday rural living. Markets of wonderfully fresh local produce are still a joy in this region of France and there’s a range of good local restaurants offering excellent value ‘menu du jour’. We’re delighted to give a few pointers and to share our knowledge whatever your budget or preferences.
As well as the numerous and acclaimed ‘festivals de musique’ of the Poitou-Charentes, several villages in the region stage festivals during the Summer months where everyday life and customs of the past are re-enacted; bread ovens are relit for baking, lavoirs (washhouses) bubble once again with ‘savon de Marseille’ and yes, the waters of the Marais Poitevin are really set on fire!
In short, plenty to do but according to many of our guests, ‘ just not enough time to do everything!’