Things to Do

One of the attractions of staying at "Les Balcons" is the fact that we are so handily located to reach lots of towns, attractions and things to do whilst also being within easy reach of the main airports, roads and rail routes serving the south west of France and Spain.

We've noted below some examples of the things to do and places to see during your stay but please note that the list is far from exhaustive!

Pons

- A climb to the top of the Donjon, a tour of the medieval sites scattered around the town, guided by clearly marked signs and a visit to the UNESCO world heritage site of the "Hopital des Pelerins" are all a must. Children of all ages will enjoy a visit to the Chateau des Enigmes (Chateau d'Usson) to try to unravel riddles and puzzles based around a theme of the Knights Templar.(www.chateau-enigmes.com)

 

Restaurants

-  Our favourite is "L'Arriere Cour" which is just off the main square in rue Emile Combes. However, there are  two bar/brasseries in the main square which also serve lunches and evening meals, for more formal dining the Hotel de Bordeaux has an a la carte menu. All are within easy walking distance of Les Balcons.

 

Golf

-  There are 18 hole courses at Saintes, Cognac and Royan. Our favourite is Royan - this attractive course winds through pine trees and is a challenge for golfers of any level. Cognac golf course is set amongst vines and trees whilst the course at Saintes is a bit of a challenge physically with some steep inclines after the first 3 holes! 

 

GOLF DE ROYAN GOLF DU COGNAC  VILLE-SAINTES GOLF

 

Jonzac

-  (about 20 minutes by car) A good family day out at Les Antilles de Jonzac. (www.lesantillesdejonzac.com) This is a big water park with outdoor and indoor pools, beaches, jacuzzis and even a hammam. It's open all year round. This pretty town is is famed for it's thermal springs and the centre is a nice place to stroll around and perhaps enjoy a leisurely lunch. The covered market was designed by the same guy that built that tower in Paris - Monsieur Eiffel.

 

Saintes

-  (about 20 minutes by car) Established by the Romans, Saintes was once the commercial centre of the Charente-Maritime. Today it's a pretty market town with its own amphitheatre built in 40AD and an impressive Roman stone arch which once sat astride one of the bridges across the river but now sits safely on the river bank - next door to the tourist office.

 

Cognac

-  (about 25 minutes by car) Set on the River Charente, this is the heart of the cognac industry with names such as Hennessy, Martell, Remy Martin and Otard all based here. All of them offer guided tours with the costs ranging from around €7 up to €900 (for a couple to have lunch with the Camus family). The old part of the town is definitely worth a visit to see some medieval timbered houses and the newer, grander merchants' houses dating from the 16th century.

 

HENNESSY  MARTELL  REMY MARTIN  
COURVOISIER  CAMUS  OTARD

 

Royan

-  (about 45 minutes by car) Probably the most popular attraction is the Zoo de La Palmyre which has over 1,600 animals and attracts around 750,000 visitors a year (www.zoo-palmyre.com). And of course - the beaches and dunes of fine white sand and small ports dotted along the coast are all within easy reach. You can even take a boat out to the lighthouse - Le Phare de Cordouan - France's oldest, and climb the 300 steps to the top for an unforgettable view.

 

La Rochelle

-  (about an hour by car) Well worth a day out with lots to see and do in this spectacular port on the Altantic coast. Great seafood restaurants, the old port and shopping for those inclined... The waterfront is dominated by two huge towers which protect the inner harbour and around which numerous cafes and restaurants are set out to enjoy the views and watch the world go by. A must for the kids is the Aquarium which is one of Europe's best. (www.aquarium-larochelle.com)

 

Bordeaux

- (about an hour by car - add an extra 10 minutes if your heading for the airport as opposed to the city centre) Awarded Word Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 2007 this city has something to offer everyone. This bustling river based port city is well worth at least a day's visit and probably more - there's so much to see and do.

 

Local Markets

Pons - Wednesday, and Saturday with a larger market on the first Saturday of each month.

Saintes - Daily at various locations with an extra large market on the first Monday of every month.

Cognac - Daily