Activities Week: Marans (near La Rochelle) - 2nd to 9th June 2018

Update: 7 apartments are now booked but there is room for one or two more couples. If you want to come, please book direct with Ted and Jenny as soon as possible but by the end of January at the latest !

Park and Suites

This year Ted and Jenny are proposing a week at Marans, a small town about 20 minutes north-east of La Rochelle and near the Marais Poitevin.

We will be staying at Park & Suites:  Parks and Suites at Marans-la- Rochelle

Details of the Marais Poitevin regional nature resereve are here:

Park and Suites is a complex of groups of two storey apartments set in a park.  You reach the top floor apartments by an outside staircase.  Each apartment has a bedroom with large double bed leading to a shower room and on to a kitchen/dining area with large fridge, dishwasher, hob and microwave (no oven) with a sofa bed, table and chairs.  Outside there is a small balcony or patio.  In the case of the downstairs apartments the patios are covered.  The apartment is well equipped and the bed made up.

Outside for your use a large heated pool, sauna, ping pong and a boules court.

There are several blocks of apartments with large spaces in between which makes it feel very spacious.  A few minutes walk brings you into the little town where you will find shops, a small marina, bars restaurants. There is also a Super U easily accessible.

Excursions and relaxation

We are planning excursions to the Marais Poitevin, visits to ruined abbeys, chateaux, walks along the coast and of course La Rochelle and Ile de Re.  There is an opportunity to play golf at Pree la Rochelle.  There is certainly a lot to do in the area, but maybe you would just like to relax around the pool and not join in the activities.  That’s OK too!

Price and Payment

The price of all this is 49€ per couple per night, 343€ for the week.  They will require 50% on booking then the rest before arrival.  There is a reasonable cancellation policy.  Cheques must be made out to Park and Suites and sent to Brian M as soon as possible.  Please note that this type of activity is not covered by the BBC insurance policy. Hence the booking and all payments are made direct between the attendees and Park and Suites .

Anyone interested should email Ted and Jenny. We do need to have time to organise numbers and bookings, so we must operate on first come first served basis.

La Rochelle


Activities Week in the Gers : 4th June until 11th June

relaxFor the last two years, we have had an activities week in the Gers, which has been organized by Ted and Jenny. Having organized it twice already, with all the difficulties that entails, they have decided to step down for this year. In the absence of a ready alternative volunteer, we are hoping, for simplicity, to revisit the same site, which is ideal and available for the first week of June.

‘Les Tournesols’ is an excellent rural location 6 minutes from the lovely market town of Eauze. The accommodation consists of small independent chalets with double bedroom, kitchen/diner and shower room. The site includes a heated swimming pool and there is a lake and it is adjacent to a golf course.

Each day we would either go on walks (which are gentle) or visit places of interest and villages around. In the evenings we often get together for a meal and drink and there are plenty of places to eat in the area. Lunches are usually picnics on a walk or you may decide to just do your own thing.

The cost will be in the same order as last year (about 41 euro per day per couple) and it is possible for anyone to stay for just half the week if they wish.

If you are interested, please contact John, our President, as soon as possible so that he can make provisional arrangements with the chalet owners. John’s contact details are in the Members Area here


Activities week in the Gers


By mid afternoon on Saturday members started gathering at les Tournasols, a collection of Gites spread out adjacent to a lovely lake close to Eauze. We were greeted by Florence and Michel, the owners, and assigned our new homes. That evening we enjoyed drinks and an enjoyable meal courtesy of Pam and John, and Piet in one of the larger Gites.

We all enjoyed our surroundings, and a half hour walk round the lake revealed that it contained a lot of fish, those which jumped were quite large. A number of large Terrapins were basking on fallen trees on the edge of the lake, and several Coypus were seen, together with a large (1 metre plus) snake (fortunately dead). As well as the lake, there was a large heated/covered swimming pool which a number of us made use of, especially when the weather warmed up!

On Sunday we visited the beautiful Palmeraie du Sarthou, a large, well stocked and landscaped, tropical garden, containing many surprises. These included a well preserved farmhouse complete with furniture, furnishings and farm implements from18th century. There were several ‘crashed’ light aircraft in the grounds, an old boat, elevated and inverted to form a sunshade and a little gazebo/library. There was a strange incised downhill track, which turned out to be a fossil excavation site where mussels dating from when the Gers was under the sea, these and many other finds were on display. These were not the only ‘prehistoric’ creatures on display – at every corner we were confronted by imaginative animal and bird metal sculptures all beautifully welded and displayed. Following our tour we enjoyed our picnic in cosy tropical surroundings.

We then drove to a nearby, but not so easy to find, rose garden. The English owners who had created it in only 12 years, ship their roses around the world, and are the sole supplier of some varieties. Sadly we timed our visit between the two flowering seasons, but still the size and variety of roses was most impressive, and it was still colourful with lovely scents. That evening, as our group size had grown, we split our dinner, and those in the lakeside Gites enjoyed a ‘Safari Supper’ with aperos, plat (a tagine), and dessert outside different Gites.

Monday, The first day of June saw the golfing ‘crocks’ back in action, Ted, John and Phil played nine holes on the nearby golf course. An electric fence around the edge of the fairways, as well as deterring animals, deterred us from looking for errant balls, but surprisingly our lost ball count was an improvement over our previous excursion ! We managed to draw, each winning three holes, and each managing some good shots (eg Ted holing in one from off the green !) Our best ‘hole’ was the 10th where we enjoyed an excellent lunch at the clubhouse ! Whilst the golfers had been having fun, the rest enjoyed a healthy walk to and around Eauze, which provided some navigation challenges ! Our evening was spent eating and drinking all together in two ‘Tonnelles’, courtesy of Ted, Jenny, Valerie and Liz.

On Tuesday most of us enjoyed an excellent walk,an 8km figure eight around a lovely ruined hilltop castle and village (la Gardere). Our picnic lunch, offering great views beside the hilltop carpark was rather spoilt by a local, playing nasty music at full volume – he clearly objected to our presence! That evening Pam curried our leftovers, enjoyed by all in the tonnelles, especially on the warm evening. We saw a magnificent ‘Moonrise’, rounding off a most enjoyable evening.

There was a splinter group on the Tuesday with Liz, Piet, Deirdre and Chris going off for the day to see old friends of many longer term members, Marion and Michel Lapadu, who have a lovely house near Monein in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Marion used to lead the Choir and conduct other musical events and comes originally from the north of England but has lived in France since meeting Michel all those years ago in the north of France where they were both teaching. Michel speaks English perfectly and they are both such fun to be with.

Michel has a collection of vintage cars and we were privileged to be driven by their daughter in a 1932 Ford Shooting Break to a wine tasting in a local vineyard known to Michel where, as usual, we all learnt something new. This is Domaine Montesquiou where we tasted five wines and made some purchases. It was particularly interesting to hear about the history, the interplanting between the vines and the fact that “blending” is done at harvesting rather than an assemblage after the vinification. We returned to their house for a sumptuous lunch in their beautiful garden with views over the countryside. Some photos tell the story.

And the second half of the week ……..  One might say that “Tick, done it” would sum up the second half of the week. Some went to the Pharmacy to be issued with small implements to safely remove the beasts plus antiseptic cream while another discovered that a cold tub of ice cream caused the beast to let go immediately and drop to the floor (of the boat). There was much debate as to the source of the invaders which remains undiscovered.

Moving swiftly on: A nice walk of Wednesday morning ending up in Larressangle which is a very pretty fortified village with 2 cafés, one firmly closed and the other closed while we were there having only just opened. Madame had more important things to do. Some of us had our picnics there while others found a brasserie not too far away where it had been ascertained under duress that lunch was available. Very good it was reported to be. Funny people round there! The afternoon saw us with an appointment at Chateau Cassaigne to taste Armagnac, wine, Floc, prunes in Armagnac and other local products. An invitation to explore the gardens and the vineyards was well worth taking up. The traditional barbecue took place in the evening taking the form of an Aussie sausage sizzle.

Thursday is the day of the market in Eauze and, as last year, there was a walk to Eauze in the morning along the old railway track. During this walk, a new restaurant was discovered in a beautiful rustic setting. Plans were quickly changed and we booked in there for the evening. The boat trip from Condom took place in the afternoon. Very pleasant and mainly amusing although getting delayed in the lock became rather tedious. It was unclear whether this was due to mechanical failure or the absence of the lock keeper! We did get through eventually and fortunately there was ice cream to cool us down and remove ticks.

(See above).

On Friday Jenny conducted us on a lovely walk round the outside of Eauze. This had been done last year in the rain but we had beautiful sunshine. The afternoon was relaxing back at base with communal evening meal of left-overs including delicious fish pie for starters and sausage curry for mains.

In conclusion, it was a lovely week and many thanks are due to Jenny and Ted for discovering Les Tournasols in the first place and all their organisation for this second visit. The weather was so much better than last year and the lovely pool had good use.

Report and also photos by Phil C and Chris R, photos also by Pamela P


Pre-Event Summary:

We will be staying at the same place as last year which is Les Tournesols, 6 minutes away from the lovely market town of Eauze. The accommodation is in small independent chalets with double bedroom, simple kitchen (two ring burner), fridge, microwave and shower room. On site there is a heated swimming pool.

Each day we go on walks or visit the interesting villages and sites around. There is also a golf course minutes away. In the evenings we often get together for a meal and we will probably have a meal out. Lunches are usually ‘bring your own picnic’ and in the evenings we often get together for a meal and we will probably also have a meal out. Of course, you may decide to do your own thing!

The cost is 41 euros per couple per day and if anyone prefers to stay for just the second half of a week, that may be possible.