Old Port of La Rochelle

Day trips

Situated in the centre of a triangle between Niort, Poitiers and Bordeaux, Vanzay offers the best of both worlds – the buzz of beautiful historic regional towns and the peaceful pace of rural France. If you fancy a day trip then you might like to consider one or more of options below and if you want to make it a special trip then you might like to hire one of our classic cars for the day and travel in comfort and style.

La Rochelle and Île de Ré

The wonderful west coast is just over an hour away from La Ferme de l’Église, offering miles of beautifully un-spoilt coastline and long sandy beaches. The jewel of the west coast is the glamorous port of La Rochelle. There are chic bars and cafés on the port-side. Boutique shopping is abundant and a vast array of attractions and excursions are readily on hand.

A trip out to the Île de Ré, reached by a new bridge from La Rochelle is a must – with beautiful sandy beaches, 10 villages to explore and many restaurants, specializing in fish.

Angoulême

With its labyrinth of narrow streets, beautiful old buildings and lovely views from the ramparts, the lovely old town of Angoulême is 45 minutes drive south. In January the town hosts Le Festival International de la Bande Dessinée (Comic strip festival) which is the rendezvous for the world’s greatest comic strip artists and scriptwriters. Each September it hosts a three day event, Circuit des Remparts when historic cars gather for a long weekend with a rally around the countryside on Saturday and a full days racing around the ramparts on Sunday.

Bordeaux

Built on the banks of the river Garonne, Bordeaux is a major port that pre-dates Roman times and is the oldest trading port in France after Marseille. Famous for its wine trade, exporting from the historic quays on the Garonne since Roman times, Bordeaux has a noble 18th-century centre with tree-lined esplanades. Along the waterfront are elegant Classical façades whilst the town behind is busy with fashionable boutiques and famous cafés. Of the many historic buildings and sites to see in Bordeaux, the Grand Théâtre is one of the finest.

Cognac

Also, to the south is the famous home of fine brandy, Cognac. This stunning, historic town with its elegant Renaissance façades and meandering cobbled streets is perfect to get lost in. It is here that the fabled nectar has been created since the 17th century and that the very air one breathes is permeated by the heavy scent of spirits evaporating from oak casks held in storage: this aroma is referred to as the angels’s share.

World famous firms such as Camus, Hennessy, Martell, Otard, Prince Hubert de Polignac, Rémy-Martin, Courvoisier, and Renault-Bisquit are located here; each distillery has its own secret and unique process for mixing the various blends of its eaux-de-vie. Join a guided tour to learn about the double-distilling process that goes on in copper stills before the ageing in oak barrels where the precious liquor will improve, taking on its final bouquet and famous golden glow. Take a barge or a small train and discover the history of cognac, its vineyards, distilleries and museums which show you not only how it is made but proudly display the oldest reserve of cognacs dating back to 1830. Then how about a taste!

Le Marias Poitevin

The Poitevin Marshes cover 198,000 acres between Niort and the sea. The area is now a national park, to the north and south of the Sèvre estuary is the fertile Marais Désséché (dry marsh), where enormous onions and other vegetables are grown. Known as the Venise Verte (Green Venice), the marshes are crossed by a labythrinth of canals, adorned by orchids and waterlilies, and shaded by poplars and beeches. Picturesque whitewashed villages are built on high ground, and the customary means of transport is a flat-bottomed boat. Plenty of fishing spots boast a variety of fish.

Oradour-sur-Glane

A village in the Limousin region of France that was destroyed on 10 June 1944, when 642 of its inhabitants – men, women and children – were murdered by a German Waffen-SS company.

After the war the village was not rebuilt. Instead, it remains as a memorial to the cruelty of Nazi occupation, to the dead and as a representative of similar sites and events. Part of the memorial includes items recovered from the burned out buildings: watches stopped at the time their owners were burned alive; glasses, melted from the intense heat; and various personal items and money. An unforgettably moving visit to a site preserved so that it should not be forgotten.

Poitiers

Poitiers has been the provincial capital since Gallo-Roman times and as such, its architectural heritage is outstanding. The Chemins de Notre Dame will guide you through ancient neighbourhoods as you discover the city’s historical treasures at your own pace. Just follow the coloured lines on the pavements starting at Notre Dame La Grande church, and read the informative signposts along the way.

On these paths you will discover exceptional monuments such as:

  • Notre Dame La Grande church (11th–12th Century) with fine Roman sculptures in the pure white stonework;
  • Saint Peter’s Cathedral (12th–13th Century) with its François Cliquot organ dating from the 17th century;
  • Saint-John’s Baptistery (4th–9th Century), the oldest example of Christian architecture in France; The law courts (12th–14th Century), one time home of the Counts of Poitou and the Dukes of Aquitaine;
  • Saint-Hilaire’s church is a World Heritage monument on the pilgrim’s road to Santiago de Compostela;
  • Saint-Radegonde’s church (11th–15th Century) is one of the oldest in Poitiers.
  • The Sainte Croix Museum and l’Espace Mendès France.

To relax take a stroll around Blossac Park, the Botanical gardens or the Promenade du Pré de l’Abbesse. Join a guided tour – professional guides will enjoy sharing their knowledge of the city’s 2000 year history with you.

Limoges

The Limoges porcelain sought by collectors today was actually produced by a number of factories in the Limoges region of France from the late 1700s until around 1930.
In Limoges you can also visit many Porcelain factories, show-rooms, factory shops and private factories museums, including the famous Haviland Factory and Collection, Bernardaud, Carpenet, Deshoulières, and Royal Limoges factories.

Belle Floral Garden

In 6 hectares of enchanted vales on the banks of the river, Belle offer a wealth of flowers, shrubs, flower beds and plants in any season. Stroll along the paths, lined with ancient trees to enjoy the hundreds of different flora. Enter a typical 19th century Poitou manor house and see how the lord lived through the recently restored: oven, greenhouse, washhouse, lord of the manor’s quarters, priest’s garden, and ornamental vegetable garden. This garden houses more than 20,000 plants, many trees and different varieties of flowers.

The lower meadows and glade are landscaped, which enhances the woods and naturally damp areas of the gardens. There are temporary and permanent exhibitions, and themed weekends, for example orchids, horticultural fair, roses, autumn scents.

There’s a large playing area and a small farm with domestic animals. There’s also an on-site restaurant. Don’t miss the Château de la Roche or Gençay and its medieval château.

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