So, what is there to do once you have arrived? If your idea of a perfect holiday is to relax in peaceful and beautiful surroundings soaking the sun, catching up on some essential reading and sampling the wonderful wines of the area, then you needn't leave the grounds. But if you feel like doing a little more, the following provides details of some of the many places and activities nearby.
Explore our Land: We have 20 acres of fields, pasture and woodland to wander within, fly kites or simple find a shady spot by the river (perhaps at one of the hammocks) and while away a couple of hours. There are pigs, chickens, bees, ducks and sheep, usually with lambs, and we encourage supervised visits and petting.
Explore our river: The river Trieux borders much of the estate proving several kilometres of river to explore. Mostly paddling depth with the occasional deeper pool to swim in, it is extremely tranquil and picturesque. Kingfishers flash by, dragonflies and mayflies hover about whilst the clean dappled water provides the perfect environment for fresh water mussels and crayfish (a clear sign of the waters cleanliness). See how many crayfish you can catch in an afternoon (our record is 28) or build a dam and shoot the rapids. An area through the woods has been cleared to provide a river walk so find a shady spot and try your luck at fishing.
St Estephe Lake: Originally a lake to provide the fish required by the monks for their table, it has recently been extensively overhauled (at a cost of E3 million). Providing a wonderful and safe beach with lifeguards (duty times are posted at the lake), free canoes and pedalos (yes, FREE), a kiddies play park, wonderful walks in the woods (with nature trails marked out) and a pontoon to traverse the lake itself, operated by the users (so get the kids to do the work) and other activities. There is a restaurant with great views over the lake and several snack bars providing simple refreshments. The lake has now been transformed to provide a fantastic local attraction – it's really worth a day out and is only 10 minutes away.
Similarly, le Grand Etang de Saint Mathieu offers visitors a beach and safe bathing area, bar and restaurant. The lake and surrounding woodland are attractive to Anglers and Walkers with several keep fit stations dotted about the trails.
Canoeing/Kayaking: This is one of our favourite activities. Montbron (20 mins) and Brantome (40 mins) are the closest and suited for half day or full day canoeing. Indestructible plastic one, two or three persons vessels are available, with life-jackets and drums to dry store your belongings. Montbron is quieter and perhaps slightly less picturesque than Brantome, but both provide miles of quiet water with the occasional weir or mini rapid to provide the adrenaline. Years of erosion has created small caves and overhangs within the limestone walls, with the occasional fairy tale chateau perched high. You have ample time to either let the gentle flow do the hard work or paddle ahead, find a private cove to picnic and explore. At the end of the day, you are collected and transported back to your car, taking 15 minutes by road to cover the 3 hours of canoeing! Children must be six or over and be able to swim. Our kinds love it and so do I!
Montbron Kayak information
Brantome Canoe information
Allo Canoes at Brantome information
Caves: Whilst the caves further south on the Dordogne river are more numerous and can be larger, we have our very own excellent caves nearby. The Grotte de Villars is a great way to spend half a day. Only half an hour away, hidden within the woods, is a cave system with the usual amazing rock formations but also some cave paintings, including an unusual prehistoric person (usually only animals were painted). A simple light show adds to the spectacle.
Tree Climbing Adventures: OK, so its called 'Accrobranche' but that doesn't have the same ring. We keep going back here as its great fun. Various routes have been created through the forest using ropes, swings, death slides and various incarnations to scare the pants off you, whilst you remain safe in harnesses with safety ropes. 3 age groups are catered for with increasing difficulty for the older ones. Have a go, or just watch your family and friends cry like babies stuck up a very tall tree! Our preference (and its closer) is the perigord-aventures version.
Walking and Cycling : Please refer to the section 'Walking and Cycling' for more information.
Karting: Hard to believe, but there is a world class Go Kart track just 15 minutes away. Set in woodland, the 2 km track is superb with chicanes, fast bends and plenty of corners to catch out the unwary. Both 4 stroke and 2 stroke (for the more experienced karters) karts are available with safety equipment provided. Prices are reasonable, especially when you buy a package. There is also a children's course for the younger one to have a go whilst your ripping up the track. A bar and seating area enables non participants to relax whilst watching the action on the track.
Horse riding: If you prefer the wind rushing through your hair on horseback, or just a sedate ride though woods, then there are numerous riding schools in the area. All provide full safety equipment and tuition if required. Half days to a full week of riding can be booked, so let us know.
Bowling: Bussiere-Badil may host the only bowling ally in the Dordogne. OK, so its just two lanes, and a little basic, but really, its great. Plenty of shoes available (with considerable less usage than your typical alley) and the alleys and balls are all in great condition. There’s a bar selling drinks and snacks, several air hockey tables and pool tables (and only 1E a session) it’s a useful distraction if ever the weather turns.
Aquarium: Limoges has an excellent aquarium. Combine it with a visit to the historic old quarters, searching for that perfect piece of pottery.
Zoo: Just outside Limoges is the Parc de Reynou, a zoological park where the animals live in relative freedom. Particularly good for younger guests.
Limoges Zoo information
Golf: there are several courses in Ecuras, Limoges, Angouleme and St Junien. I don't play, but I have been informed they are all of a good standard. We can make further enquiries/bookings if required.
Wine Tasting: OK, its a couple of hours, but that's no distance to visit some of the greatest vineyards in the world– Bordeaux, St Emilion, Monbazillac, Bergerac and many more. There are numerous caves (a local dealer of the wines) in the region where you can try the local wines and many people visit the region expressly to sample the wines. We can help you make any bookings for a visit to one of the spectacular vineyards.
Saint-Emilion wine tour information
Trip Advisor has several recommendations :
Cognac Tours: No, not a tour of Cognac the town, but the Cognac Distilleries, in Cognac! In my dreams, I live on a diet of foie gras washed down with Cognac - unfortunately my doctor has suggested this is not an ideal diet for living long or prosperous - but for a week or two whilst staying here - why not? There are Cognac Distilleries that offer tours and tastings so why not try a few. The quality of some of them is superb and some of them run tours in English in addition to French.
Trip Advisor list of top tours