We visited La Chêne as two families holidaying together. Our group comprised of two couples and five children, aged 3-8.
Our friends & their two children took the two upstairs bedrooms (both en-suite) & my husband & I and our three children slept in the downstairs three bedrooms (two of which are en-suite). Our eldest daughter had her own room but there is an option of putting three single beds in one of the rooms, which would have freed up a further bedroom downstairs, should you wish to fit more people in; and there is also the option of opening up an additional sixth bedroom upstairs for an additional fee, making it totally possible to conceive of three families making this space work.
The rooms were spacious and the beds very comfortable. The luxury of en-suites in all bedrooms was so convenient, especially as two families sharing; and the twin room that didn’t have an en-suite was directly opposite a bathroom, which could be accessed on two sides, as well as next door to a single downstairs loo, meaning no one was left without bathroom facilities when needed.
The living space is really generous, with a huge, comfortable lounge with three sofas and plenty of extra seating/table space. If we were to visit in the autumn/ winter, we would definitely make use of the fireplace. There are books and games on the shelves & a large television with FreeSat & a DVD player. It was so handy to be able to get CBeebies for any early morning wake-ups with the children; or to put a film on if they needed a bit of downtime.
At La Charrière you feel as if you needn’t go anywhere. There is plenty to keep you entertained on site. We enjoyed the wonderful clean, heated, salt-water swimming pool every day - usually twice a day. It has about 12 sun loungers around the outside, so plenty for groups. The pool is shared with La Charrière’s other gîte but that is no imposition. It is spacious even when everyone is in at once and if you’re staying a week or longer you soon find a group dynamic; besides there are always spaces in the day when the pool is empty and one can steal a quiet swim alone.
The games barn is a real boon. The kids loved having all that space to run around in, play ball games in, scoot in etc. There are basketball hoops on either end, drawn on football goals on both walls, a badminton net that can be set up, a table football table and a tennis table. Everything has been thought of!
There is also a huge collection of bicycles of different sizes - from little trikes for toddlers, through to children’s bicycles and adult bikes with child seats attached.
We had a very enjoyable bike ride, following the Argenton les Vallées sign-posted route, as a family of five - with 8 year-old riding on her own and my husband and I each carrying our 5 & 3 year-old children in a seat on the back. It worked really well and was so lovely exploring the local area this way. There were even enough helmets for five of us.
My husband likes to run and was able to follow a simple 3.6km circular track straight from the entrance to La Charrière, which he could complete as many times as he wanted, depending on how far he wanted to run!
We enjoyed the expansive field behind the gîtes. There is a large pond where the frogs appear as soon as you walk nearby and leap in to the water as you circle around. Lovely to take the children there. As we explored together we found a tyre swing and a little wooden den, which they enjoyed sitting in. We had fun on wheelbarrow rides, too!
There are lots of benches spaced out around the pound and I enjoyed a quiet time to myself with a cup of tea in the morning, sitting beneath some recently planted trees and looking over at the splendid, sturdy oak tree standing tall and proud in the middle by the pond.
The planting of trees all around is beautiful and thoughtful; and the garden, too, in front of the gîtes and the games barn is lovely. I particularly enjoyed seeing the bright coral/orange climbing rose from the kitchen window each day.
The kitchen is a real hub and well equipped. It has a huge table, easily seating our group of 9, with room for more.
The large hallway area at the front of the gîte is an ideal place to come in from the pool and place shoes and hang towels and swim things etc. - with plenty of coat pegs; and a washing machine just across the hall.
It is a real home-from-home in terms of having everything you might need: adapters on many of the sockets already in place, cafetières, espresso machine, microwave, tea towels, etc. etc. The hob is large and there are two ovens, ideal for large groups.
You will find towels in all rooms and twin bath robes for adult/couples’ rooms. Don’t forget your swimming towels (you will be reminded upon booking!)
There is an outdoor bbq, which we used on the first evening. The nearest superstore - for charcoal, firefighters, groceries and swimming shorts If you forget your own(!) is a 15-minute drive away and we were easily able to top up our shopping when needed throughout the week. There is also a recycling centre there, which we used whenever we went shopping; or there is one in the neighbouring town.
After a warm welcome, you will see Paul and Charlotte round and about: on hand but never imposing. They live in between the two gîtes & La Charrière is their home. There is nothing commercial about this place; it is relaxed and homely and has a warmth and ease about it. Paul tends to the grounds: busying himself with jobs, such as watering shrubs, mowing the field, clearing the pond. Charlotte takes care of the allotment and we found little packages arriving throughout the week: the most beautifully ripe & tasty tomatoes & a pack of lovely little potatoes, for example. They keep chickens and a few days after we’d settled in they were allowed free range again, which was lovely.
On one of the days, Paul drove us to the local winery, Domaine du Petit Clocher, where we had a wine-tasting and were able to hear about how this 99-year-old family-run vineyard made their wine - and to taste it of course! They have plans for a centenary celebration next year, so 2020 may be the year to go! :-)
I particularly loved their sparkling wine, a Crémant de Loire, their dry rosé & Chardonnay and their Anjou rouge. Il y a très bon! Go along and decide for yourself!
I could go on and on about this wonderful place. My husband and I - indeed our whole family - have fallen in love with La Charrière and feel as though it is a place we would love to return to again and again. (Or even live forever! Yes, my husband did snap a pic of a property for sale nearby! Ha!)
Year after year - or at least every other - we would love to holiday here! We are already exploring dates for our return! It was the children’s first trip abroad and they all want to come back to Paul & Charlotte’s place.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for welcoming us to your beautiful home and for providing such a perfect space for our family holiday. What a wonderful escape it was!