10 Things To Do in Winter in South West France

Winter breaks in France

Life continues here in Poitou-Charentes during the winter, of course, but is there much to do without the hot sun of summer? Yes, in fact there are loads of things to do and here are 10 for starters.

A Winters Day in Vanzay

1. Visit a Sunday Morning French Market

There is a nice one in Angoulême in the Place de Victor Hugo. Even though it’s in the city it has a village feel to it  and the cafe on the corner is also open, along with the patisserie and boulangerie.

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Place Victor Hugo Market, Angoulême. Thanks to Jack Ma

2. Go Walking

Whether you set out from Gites in Charente or drive out, there are so many nice places to walk around, at this time of the year the snowdrops are coming out, as are the wild primroses.  We have a printed set of local walks we can lend you, anything from 2 – 40kms!

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Walks in the commune of Vanzay: Gites in Charente arrowed

3. Or for the more fit – go cycling around Deux-Sèvres

It’s pretty flat around here, and there are a lot of small country roads for exploring the countryside. We have partnered with Bike Hire Direct, who will deliver to and collect from your gite.  Please ask us for details.

4. Visit Poitiers

The old town is lovely for walking around, there are numerous restaurants, cafes, shops, churches, something for everyone.  And the daily market is a must.

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Lunchtime in front of Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Poitiers

5. Visit a Brocante

Sundays are quiet here, why not visit a brocante (flea market)? There are many held every Sunday throughout the region, and so pick up something to take home with you.  We have details of where they are being held.

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Antiques and bric a brac at a French Brocante

6. A Day Trip to Paris

For a special treat – why not take a day trip to Paris!  We are 35 minutes from Poitiers station, and the TGV train will get you to Paris Montparnasse in under 1 hour 45 minutes.

7. Le Festival International de la Bande Dessinée

Each January Angoulême hosts the Le Festival International de la Bande Dessinée (Comic Strip), the rendezvous for the world’s greatest comic strip artists and scriptwriters.

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Cartoon Mural, Angoulême: Le Festival International de la Bande Dessinée

8. Visit Some Churches

There are many fine churches to visit in the area: Melle has the l’Eglise Saint-Hilaire, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Pilgrim’s Road to Santiago de Compostela; there is the l’Eglise St. Martin in Brux, a 12th century Romanesque church with the charming Bar St. Martin opposite where you can have coffee, a drink, lunch and dinner; and, of course the church right next door to Gites in Charente, l’Eglise de Saint Jacques.

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L’Eglise St. Jacques, Vanzay, with Gites in Charente behind. By La Contessa Timperley, Dec 25 2010

9. Drive Out in a Classic Car

You don’t have to be going anywhere in particular, just out for a drive in one of our classic cars: the Jaguar MK2, the Citroën DS23ie or the Citroën DSuper 5. You can hire on of these from us here at Gites in Charente for the day or a few days as part of your stay with us.

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Three of our Classic Cars for hire

10. Stay In and Do Nothing

Treat yourself to a lazy day, make some mulled wine and relax in front of the fire, we have plenty of books and DVDs here – perfect for a day of vegging out!

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In Front of the Fire in La Petite Maison