TRAVEL: A rural French stay at Le Grand Pezet with Baby Friendly Boltholes

I’ve always wanted to try a holiday in rural France but never had the chance to go, so when we were invited to stay at Le Grand Pezet with Baby Friendly Boltholes my mind leapt to ideas of cheese and wine, but beyond that I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. Usually when we go on holiday we head for the coast but this trip has opened my eyes to the joys of a countryside break – Le Grand Pezet is a gorgeous Charentaise farmhouse in 10 acres of beautiful gardens and woodland. It’s so peaceful and quiet all you can hear are the birds, and at night the sky is so inky black and the stars are so bright we thought we could see the other side of the Milky Way. The house itself is also deeply restful – light streams in through large french doors into cool rooms full of beams and stone, decked with original features and little details that instil instant calm. The photos of the house look lovely, but really they don’t do the peace and beauty of the place justice, and on arrival we were completely blown away. Often I take days to unwind on trips away but here I was surprised to find the stress evaporating immediately.

There are 3 ensuite (one with a bath) super-king bedrooms in the main house (two on the ground floor, one on the first floor), and a further two (adjoining) twin bedrooms for children on the first floor. All the rooms are plenty big enough for additional cots or the trundle beds also available so the house is ideal for groups of friends or families – especially with young children in tow. And if you need more space the Pool House can be rented in addition to provide another two ensuite double bedrooms (one is super-king).

The house itself is huge – an enormous lounge, beautiful dining room, big kitchen, and large outdoor terrace with seating, dining table and massive bean bags. The gardens are vast too with plenty to keep guests young and old happy with a newly refurbished (and fenced) pool, trampoline, rope swing, table tennis table, cute playhouse, and plenty of games available including badminton, tennis and boules. There’s a gas BBQ and the kitchen is well equipped with everything you might need. Above all there is just so much space. To spread out, unwind, explore, relax. We never felt on top of each other which is so important when holidaying in a group!

We flew from London Gatwick into Bordeaux which is just a short 90 mins flight, and then around 1 hour 15mins drive from the house. We stopped at the nearest large supermarket which is in Chalais (c.15mins drive away) and stocked up on everything easily, but there is a small village Brossac nearby too with a butchers and a bakers – and there are a couple of bikes you can borrow for a quick ride to buy croissants! The butchers also offers a meal service where you can pre-order dishes from lasagne to salads to crepes, so you don’t have to cook at all if you so wish, but the gas BBQ makes it very quick and easy to rustle up dinner too.

There’s plenty to keep you amused at the house (if only we could have stayed forever!) but for the more restless traveller there’s loads to do in the surrounding area from Pineau tasting (the local tipple) to local markets and full days out. We spent a morning pottering around the small market and pretty streets of Aubeterre-Sur-Dronne – one of ‘les plus beaux villages de France’ – but otherwise we were pretty content chilling out at the house and by the pool! We were very lucky with the weather and although the pool isn’t heated (and therefore wasn’t the warmest in May!) the kids (and dads!) were happy in and out of the water. On greyer days there’s a cosy beanbag area in the lounge and a big selection of toys and dvds for a bit of quiet time, plus a record player and some vinyl for the grown-ups!

As a property part of Baby Friendly Boltholes you know that it’s going to be really set up for kids, and it was – which takes so much of the worry out of travelling with children. But because there’s so much space it’s perfect for holidaying with friends, which for me, really takes the pressure off too – we went with our lovely friends The Curious Mummy and family. The kids were off exploring together and were so happy I even had time to finish my book! Literally living the dream! Le Grand Pezet is a baby friendly place and a joy for children, but very much a parent friendly place too. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere quite so calming, so Le Grand Pezet gets a huge thumbs up from me, and the kids absolutely adored their first French holiday. It’s also given me a new appreciation for rural holidays and the absolute relaxation they can offer as opposed to busier resort-based holidays. It’s so hard to know what to expect when choosing holiday houses but this place completely exceeded our expectations and I will rave about it to anyone who asks! It was truly idyllic and I really hope we can go back sometime soon! Have a look for yourself at their Baby Friendly Boltholes listing –

We were kindly gifted our stay at Le Grand Pezet for the purpose of this review, but all words and opinions are our own.

Christina Pickworth, This Mama Does