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Between 10 and 30 minutes away
The Chateau de Javarzay, one of the most important Renaissance chateaux in Poitou, with park and fishing lake.
The Zoodyssée at Chize, home to around 600 animals of European origin, wild and domestic, who live in semi freedom on a 25 hectare site deep in the forest. www.zoodyssee.org
Melle, attractive market town with a ‘triad’ of Romanesque churches, silver mines of the Frankish kings dating from the 9th century, and pleasant walks along the ‘discovery trails’ through the arboretum encircling the town.
The Chateau de Dampierre, in its idyllic setting on the river Boutonne, associated with mythology and alchemy. Features include a sculpted ceiling in the ‘esoteric gallery’, a costume gallery, and the ‘Garden of Dyktynna’.
The Asinerie du Baudet de Poitou, near Dampierre, a breeding centre for the local breed of Poitevin donkey and mule. Hourly guided visits, rides in a horse-drawn carriage or on a donkey.
The Abbaye Royale at Celles sur Belle, a magnificent abbey dating from between the 11th and 17th centuries, with a museum of liturgical objects, beautiful gardens and regular exhibitions.
Within 30 – 60 minutes
The Marais Poitevin, classified ‘Grand Site de France’, offers trips along the maze of canals or ‘Green Venice’, in punts or canoes (with or without guides), cycle rides, fishing, and animal park for children.
The Musée de Rauranum at Rom offers a fun way to learn about the excavations in the gallo-roman town of Rauranum. Suitable for children. English translations available. www.musee-rauranum.com
The Valley of Monkeys at Romange brings you into direct contact with around 30 species of monkeys roaming free in a natural environment. Accessible for pushchairs and wheelchair users, picnic places for lunch. A big hit with our guests, young and old. www.la-vallee-des-singes.fr
The Tumulus de Bougon, 15 hectares of parkland with original burial chambers dating from 4500 BC, and an imaginative museum housed in the remains of a Cistercian abbey.
At Cognac, visit the mediaeval town and the warehouses of the major Cognac producers such as Hennessy and Martell.
L´Ecomusée du Cognac at Migron, on the way to Cognac, has a distillery and museum with presentations and activities for children. English spoken.
The historic town of Saintes, with its many Roman remains, including one of the oldest amphitheatres in Gaul; and Mediaeval churches such as Abbaye aux Dames. Boat trips on the river Charente.
The Paleosite at St Cesaire, near Saintes, on the site of an original Neanderthal settlement, presents the life of Neanderthal Man through an imaginative, high-tech series of presentations. Suitable for children. English translations available. www.paleosite.fr
The Mouton Village at Vasles is home to over 20 species of sheep from all over the world in 6 hectares of wooded parkland . Audio guide, picnic and play areas, mini farm for children, sheepdog demonstration. www.moutonvillage.fr
60 to 90 minutes away
La Rochelle is an old seaside town with a fine port and towers, a maritime museum and aquarium. Boats trips to Fort Boyard.
The Ile de Ré, fine beaches, cycle tracks, scenic villages, salt marshes.
Brouage, historic 17th century port with imposing ramparts,now surrounded by marshland.
The naval town of Rochefort is a must for lovers of maritime history, with its magnificent Corderie Royale and National Maritime Museum.
The Ile d´Oléron, magnificent beaches, water sports, cycle tracks, oyster farmers cabins, the chateau d´Oléron with its 17th century citadel.
Futuroscope, at Poitiers, is a vast theme park with attractions to suit all ages and special shows during the summer. www.futuroscope.com